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In the New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library
Deborah Smith (1796-1882) was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, the daughter of Quakers Abraham Howland Smith (1749-1826) and Zerviah Smith (1751-1817). In 1821, Deborah married Joseph Taber (1796-1882), but out of their five offspring, Edward (1826-1899), Sarah (1827-1845), Anna (1829-1843), Caroline (1831-1832), and Caroline (1834-1899), only Edward (1826-1899), and their youngest daughter, Caroline (1834-1899), gave birth to any children. Caroline married Samuel Henry Morgan (1832-1894) of Albany, New York, in 1859 and four children of her own: Joseph (1861-1866), Henrietta (1863-1914), Walter (b. 1865), and Caroline (b. 1868). Due to an unfortunate illness, Joseph passed away at the age of five.
The family papers of Deborah Smith Taber consist primarily of correspondence from Deborah and Joseph to their children and grandchildren. Deborah’s correspondence contains letters written in 1844, 1866, and 1871 to her daughter, Caroline, and granddaughter, Henrietta (“Nettie”), providing updates on family matters and Deborah’s daily activities. In one 1866 letter addressed to Caroline, Deborah expresses concern over Joseph (“Josie”), Caroline’s sick son who eventually passed away shortly after Caroline received the letter. Letters written by Joseph Taber span the dates 1873 – 1874, 1882 and are addressed to his daughter, Caroline, and her husband, Samuel, informing both of them of his daily activities in addition to providing updates on other family members and mutual acquaintances. One letter of note, dated 1874, discusses the temperance movement. On occasion, Joseph and Deborah wrote letters together, resulting in two separate letters in two distinct hands that share the same piece of paper. Letters of this variety are written to Caroline and offer both parents’ perspectives. Additional correspondence includes letters written by Caroline addressed to her mother and cousin. Caroline wrote one particular letter when she was ten years old and described school and her studies. The collection also contains a letter written by Samuel to his son, Josie, while he was visiting Joseph and Deborah in New Bedford during the summer of 1866. Shortly after this trip, Josie took ill and passed away.
In addition to family correspondence, this collection also contains Deborah’s personal sketchbook, containing over 100 original illustrations on 28 pages. The finely detailed artwork in Deborah’s sketchbook includes depictions of animals, flowers, people, and vessels, as well as calligraphic letters and text. In addition to the correspondence and sketchbook, this collection also contains a note written by Deborah concerning Josie’s death in 1866 and an undated graphic drawing of a decorative floral pattern designed by Deborah.
This collection also includes 19 Farmers’ Almanacs owned and annotated with marginalia by various members of Deborah’s family. The almanacs span the years 1816–1820, 1831–1836, and 1857–1864. Almanacs from 1816–1820 were owned and annotated by Abraham Smith, Deborah’s father. Almanacs from 1831–1836 were owned and annotated by Joseph Taber, and almanacs from 1857–1864 were owned and annotated by Deborah. All almanacs in the collection are Robert B. Thomas’ The (Old) Farmer’s Almanack, with the exception of 1834, which is Thomas Green Fessenden’s The New England Farmer’s Almanac. Researchers should note that these almanacs have been individually cataloged with the appropriate Library of Congress call numbers and shelved with the Library’s Rare Books.
Arrangement of Collection
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New Bedford Whaling Museum Research Library Mss 127, [sub-group, series, sub-series, folder/volume as appropriate], [item]
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Related Manuscript Collections
Mss 15: Taber Family Business Records
Mss 36: Taber Family Papers
Materials in this collection were donated to the New Bedford Whaling Museum on June 12, 2013 by Mrs. Stephanie Hughes as part of Accession #2013.19
Processed by: Mark Procknik, 2014
Encoded by: Mark Procknik, 31 January 2014
Daily life--New Bedford (Mass.)--19th century
Morgan, Caroline Taber, 1834-1899
Morgan, Joseph, 1861-1866
Morgan, Samuel Henry, 1832-1894
New Bedford (Mass.)--19th century
Smith, Abraham Howland, 1749-1826
Society of Friends
Taber, Deborah Smith, 1796-1882
Taber, Joseph, 1796-1882