Reading and Writing Ourselves into Being

The Literacy of Certain 19th Century Young Women

Edited by:
Claire White Putala, SUNY Oswego

A volume in the series: Literacy, Language and Learning. Editor(s): Claudia Finkbeiner, Universitaet Kassel. Wen Ma, Le Moyne College.

Published 2004

This text is a study of literacy based upon a set of correspondence, the Osborne Family Papers, 1812–1968, housed in the Special Collections Research Center of Syracuse University. A collection of some 358 boxes, it is particularly well suited for a study on literacy. In addition to the voluminous public and private correspondence of prison reformer Thomas Mott Osborne (1859–1926), a vast and rich store of the family’s literacy "works" have been carefully preserved. In addition to hundreds of letters, many between and among the women of the family, it also abounds with other literacy documents of interest such as ledgers, account books, travelogues, verse, diaries, and notes. Unusually and quite valuably, even scraps of children’s writing have been preserved, making possible studies regarding emergent literacy practices of the times.

Foreword, Joan N. Burstyn. Chapter I: Beginning to Contextualize Eliza Wright Osborne in Her Literacy. Chapter II: Wherein the Problem is Set. Chapter III: Reading the Writing of “The Particular”: A Methodology. Chapter IV: On Their Own: Women Reading (Mostly) Women. Chapter V: Not on Their Own: Mothers and Men Prescribe Their Reading. Chapter VI: Writing Well: In Search of “The Particular”. Chapter VII: “Fixed Very Nicely Indeed!”: A Focus on Gender. Chapter VIII: Endings. Conclusion: Healing the Split Subject. References. Appendix A: Documentation of Primary Sources: Osborne Family Papers. Appendix B: Part One: Osborne Non-Correspondence Documentation. Appendix B: Part Two: Non-Osborne Documentation. Appendix C: Coding Categories for Content Analysis of 1988 Paper. Appendix D: Annotated Bibliography of Reading Citations in the Letters. Appendix E: Two Transcribed Letters from the Osborne Family Papers.