Project Launch: Sarah Underwood digital collection

The newly digitized Sarah Underwood papers are now available online through our Iowa Connections page. As Kim Anderson described in a previous blog post which focused on Underwood’s experiences with being a new mother, her papers are a revealing window into the life of a mid-19th century woman living in eastern Iowa.

Scan of a letter written by Sarah Underwood

Letter from Sarah Underwood to her sister Ann Tefft,
September 28, 1859
. This letter is an example of the
variety of topics Sarah covers in her letters: soap making,
herbal remedies, and farm work (original from Box 1,
Folder 9).

Primarily containing Underwood’s correspondence to family back east in Rhode Island, her letters contain vivid descriptions of life in her new home outside of Princeton, Iowa (just north of Davenport). Topics cover a wide variety of areas, including her neighbors and community, harvesting and other farm work, observations of the flora and fauna of the area, local schools and churches, the weather’s effects on the landscape, treatments used for illnesses, motherhood, her loneliness in her new surroundings, and missing friends and relatives.

Colored image of dried flowers sent in an envelope

Dried flowers sent in an envelope by Sarah Underwood to her sister, Ann Tefft
(original from MS 294, Sarah Underwood papers, Artifact 2012-285.001)

Full of energy, observations, and opinions, the new digital collection will hopefully provide enjoyment and enhanced research value to online readers. Please take a look! The originals are housed on the 4th floor of Parks Library, in the Special Collections and University Archives Department (Sarah Underwood papers, MS 694).