Emeline Larcom was the sister of Lucy Larcom (a well known New England poet, essayist, and editor). One of ten children, she grew up in the Massachusetts coastal town of Beverly -- located just north of Boston. Her father was a sea captain who was often away from home. With his untimely death in 1832, his wife, Lois Larcom, was forced to seek out employment to maintain her large family; she found it in the mill town of Lowell. She relocated to the community with her younger children in 1835, and took charge of a boardinghouse, working for the Lawrence Manufacturing Company. Soon, four of her daughters also took up employment with the firm – working inside the mills. Emiline was one of them. Sometime between 1837 and 1840, Lois Larcom returned to Beverly. Several of her daughters, including Emiline, remained in the mill. Emiline worked for the Lawrence Company until her marriage in 1843.


The following letters were written by Emeline to her mother.

Lowell l0th

Dear Mother


You will perhaps be surprised to hear from me now but I do not write on my own account. I must come right to the point as I am in a great hurry. Sarah Merrill has been sick several weeks but is now recovering. I have watched with her twin. She has sent word of her sickness to her aunt Larcom but has never recieved any word in return, which has caused her a great deal of unhappiness, for she fears her aunt has some hardness towards her, and she thinks it possible she may have heard something to give her wrong impressions, from Cordelia Smith for she has said things in Lowell which were incorrect.

To relieve I told her I would write to you and ask you to see her aunt and learn if there was any cause for her silence. I think very highly of Sarah and would do any thing to relieve her anxiety. I do not think that she has done anything that her aunt would not perfectly approve, and if she has heard a false report, it is cruel that Sarah should be suffering so much in her mind on account of it. I think she did not send for assistance for she told me she was laying up ten dollars a month before she was taken sick. Her friends think she had better leave Lowell for a while, but she would not of course like to go to her aunts until she knows that she still feels kindly towards her. So ma[,] you please to see her as soon as you recieve this and send a letter directly and oblige all [?] next week and you will hear from us by return.



Lowell Nov 6 Friday night 1840


Dear Mother

I write tonight to inquire if you have recieved a bundle from me. I am afraid you have not because I have not yet recieved an answer to a letter which was in the bundle, and which I was very desirous should be answerered immediately. The bundle was some merino [a choice variety of wool from Spanish Merino sheep] to make Octavia a cloak. Inclosed in the letter was a small sum of money 1.75. But the most important item, at least to me, was the request that you would let Octavia come to Lowell as soon as you could get her ready. I sent the bundle by Mr Adams stage, directed to aunt Day, and I sent her a note requesting her to send it to you by Mr Floyd so if you have not recieved it you may obtain it I presume by sending to Salem. I feel some anxiety to hear if it has arrived, and hope you will write and relieve me. If You have not recieved it you must think very hard of me by this time for not answering your letter. However I am not so neglectful as you may think me. I said some things in regard to your circumstances it will be unnecessary for me to repeat if you get that letter. Give my love to every one of the family. If they knew how I valued letters from them I do believe they would write. Tell the children aunt Emeline dont want to be forgotten."' She would give all her old shoes to see them. I have not seen Jonathan but once since Abby left Lowell, and dont expect to unless I go to see him." Accept this with the love and sympathy of your daughter

Give my love to grandsir. [Thomas Barrett]




Dear Mother, Lowell Nov 9th Monday night 1840


I recieved your letter a few hours ago, and at your request will answer it speedily. Many thanks to brother Benja[min] for his kind invitation, to make him a visit at Thanksgiving, and did I consult inclination merely, I would surely accept it; but as it is I can only say my heart will be with on while the poor (not very poor either) body must stay in Lowell. I am extremely happy to think of having Octavia so soon. Shall expect to see her on Friday. So we are not to be favoured with Lucy['s] society this winter. Well, I hope and presume others are to be made happy by her presence, if we are not. I will tell you how I got the impression that Lydia was to stay with Louisa. I understood by someone that Adeline thought of spending the winter in Plaistow [N.H.], and I likewise understood from Lucy last summer that she perhaps might come to Lowell this winter, and it come into my mind that Lydia would take her place; thats all. I am very sorry to hear of brother Harringtons ilness. Remember me to him with much affection. I do not think it your duty to stay with grandfather if he can be well-suited in any other way, seeing you are made so unhappy with him. Hope you will be relieved before long. Of course I do not think you ungrateful. It is a great pity that he makes himself so much trouble. I take it very kindly in you, to spend your time to knit me stockings, they will be very acceptable.

I am glad that Abby is coming to Lowell after Thanksgiving. Perhaps she will have Jonathan's company. I was favoured with a visit from him the first of this evening. He will not go to Beverly before Thanksgiving because he has accepted of an invitation to go to Woburn, but he intends to visit you the day after and stay the remainder of the week. He took your letter from the post office as he was coming to Lowell, so we read it together. After he was gone I went down to our office and found one there for me. I want to hear from you often. I believe that Lucy wrote to me last, but do tell her not to be particular but write again the very next opportunity. I often ask Sarah Hough to write her. She would be very happy to send a letter to her if it would write itself. Tell brother Harrington his old maid sister would think very much of a letter from him if he is able to write. I mention hirtz because he does not think it such a task to write as the others, and because it is a long time since I have heard a word from him directly. But perhaps I am too presumptions to think of such thing, and indeed, on the whole I would rather they would not write, if it is any trouble. However my love to all yourself included.




Jany [15] friday night 1841


My own mother

I received your letter the first of this week and should have answered it immediately had I not wished to have something to send beside words, and for that reason was obliged to wait till pay-day. But I am exceedingly grieved to have no more to send. After this month Octavia [Emeline’s sister] will be in the mill, and then I shall not have her board to pay and she will be earning, then we shall be able to send more. Dear mother dont say you are poor or dependent. You are no more so than any other one. "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof." To some of his dependent children he gives money, to some lands, to you he has given children. So from his bounty we are all supplied and surely ma we will never repine while we have such a provider. You will not of course have money enough to get every thing you want this month, so perhaps you will have to take goods on credit of Caleb, or of whoever you think best, but I hope to send you enough so that you can pay as you go along. I think it a much better way. I am glad to have you write every particular[;] do always. All our debts are paid excepting John Paul's. I should love to take a peep at you in your new home. It seems to me that I should like it much. We are all well and quite at home. All attend Mr. Blanchards meeting [Blanchard was minister of the First Congregational Church in Lowell] and sabbath school, and ma, as you are poor in this world's goods, perhaps it will all be for our good, for as you love your children and cannot express it by bestowing on us the riches of earth, you will pray for us more earnestly that we may have true riches." I hope you will often remember us in this way. I feel very anxious that Abba should be benefited by her privileges, and I know that God so often answers the prayers of his people, that I sometimes dare to hope a great deal, for I know that she has friends that often pray for her. Octavia is not forgotten, though I am talking so much more about Abba. She is doing pretty well though you know she needs much cultivation. I do not forget that you have given her to me with a charge. I hope I shall always be to her what you wish me to be. She has gone to an anti-slavery fair this evening with the Hough girls. Abby gave her the money for entrance. Give my love to all. Tell Brother Harrington I sympathize with him in his misfortune and have a mind to write him a good long letter, so as to keep him quiet for one while.

I have scratched away and have not saif half I wish to but you must think the rest if you can.

Your Emeline


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