Portia: The World of Abigail Adams

By Edith B. Gelles | Go to book overview
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Notes

Introduction
1.
Massachusetts Historical Society, Adams Papers, microfilm edition, 608 reels, Reel 122, June 26, 1818.
2.
L. H. Butterfield et al., eds., Adams Family Correspondence, 4 volumes (Cam- bridge, Mass.: 1963, 1973), I, 154, Sept. 16, 1774.
3.
Library of Congress, Shaw Papers, microfilm edition, 4 reels, Reel 1, Feb. 1814.
4.
Stewart Mitchell, ed., New Letters of Abigail Adams, 1788-1801 (Westport, Conn.: 1947), p. 182, May 26, 1798.

1. The Abigail Industry
1.
Charles Francis Adams, "Memoir of Mrs. Adams," Letters of Mrs. Adams, Wife of John Adams (Boston: 1848), p. xxxi.
2.
Charles Francis Adams edited liberally to present his family in the most favorable light. He suppressed passages, even destroyed whole letters that he considered unimportant or in poor taste, and changed spelling, grammar, and punctuation. The full corpus of family papers remained in the family library at Quincy until 1905, when the Adams Trust was created and the papers were moved for safekeeping to the Massachusetts Historical Society. In 1952 the trust transferred ownership from the Adams descendants to the society and appointed Lyman H. Butterfield editor. Under his stewardship, the full corpus of papers—which span three generations from the time of Abigail and John to the year 1890—became available for the first time on 608 reels of microfilm. More than one hundred reels cover Abigail-related correspondence. Since then, four volumes of Adams Family Correspondence, including Abigail's letters to the year 1782, have been made available in a letterpress edition, L. H. Butterfield et al., eds., The Adams Family Correspondence, 4 volumes (Cambridge, Mass.: 1963, 1973). Hereafter cited as AFC. For the full story of the Adams Papers, see L. H. Butterfield, "Introduction," The Adams Papers: Diary and Autobiography of John Adams, 4 volumes (Cambridge, Mass.: 1961), I, xiii-lxxiv, and "The Papers of the Adams Family: Some Account of Their History," Massachusetts Historical Society, Proceedings 71 (1959), pp. 328-56. For additional Abigail correspondence, see Charles Francis Adams, ed., Correspondence between John Adams and Mercy Warren (New York: 1972); L. H. Butterfield et al., eds., The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family 1762-1784 (Cambridge, Mass.: 1975); Lester Cappon, ed., The Adams-Jefferson Letters: The Complete Correspon- dence between Thomas Jefferson and Abigail and John Adams (Chapel Hill: 1959); Caroline Smith DeWindt, ed., The Journal and Correspondence of Miss Adams, Daughter of John Adams, 2 volumes (New York: 1841-42); and Stewart Mitchell, ed., New Letters of Abigail Adams, 1788-1801 (Westport, Conn.: 1947).
3.
The Abigail industry embraces much more than I show here, and includes children's books, graduate theses, patriotic memorabilia such as a recent collectors' coin, and a 1985 postage stamp.
4.
In a typically newsy and chatty letter Abigail wrote to John in Philadelphia,

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