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Mary Eliza Bradbury papers

 Collection 0062-MDHC

This collection consists of the correspondence of Mary Eliza Bradbury, an Elkton, Maryland, schoolteacher who established and taught at her own school, and tutored African-American children on Sundays. The letters, written to Lewis H. Jackson, her friend, suitor, and husband after 1856, offer glimpses of everyday life in mid-19th century Maryland and chronicle local events, Bradbury's school, her family, and her religious experiences in the Methodist Church.


  • January 8, 1855-November 26, 1855

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Photocopies or digital surrogates may be provided in accordance with Special Collections and University Archives duplication policy.

Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs unless otherwise specified. It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission to publish materials from the appropriate copyright holder.

Archival materials may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal and/or state right to privacy laws or other regulations. While we make a good faith effort to identify and remove such materials, some may be missed during our processing. If a researcher finds sensitive personal information in a collection, please bring it to the attention of the reading room staff.


1 Folders

Scope and Content of Collection

The Mary Eliza Bradbury papers consist of letters written by Mary Eliza Bradbury to Lewis H. Jackson in the course of the year 1855. Letters were exchanged approximately every week. Dates range from January 8, 1855 to November 26, 1855. There are 12 signed letters and one undated manuscript item.

The courtship of Bradbury and Lewis is carried on through these letters and religious devotion and emotional commitment are closely intertwined. Bradbury expresses her desire to grow spiritually and describes her profound religious experiences in the Methodist Church. News of local events, family notes, and details of the happenings in her school are also included.


Mary Eliza Bradbury was born in Maine on May 14, 1830. She spent several years in the town of Elkton, in Cecil County, Maryland. Her father, Joseph P. Bradbury, was a farmer and livery stable owner.

Bradbury was a schoolteacher who established her own school. She also taught African-American children on occasion on Sundays. A devoutly religious woman, Bradbury devoted much of her time to prayer and spiritual inquiry at the First Methodist Church in Elkton. In 1853, Bradbury met Lewis [Louis] H. Jackson of Wilmington, Delaware. Jackson's family may have lived in Elkton at one time. Jackson was born in 1837 in Pennsylvania. Bradbury married Jackson on March 3, 1856, in Elkton. The couple remained in Elkton, where Jackson worked as a schoolteacher, and they had their first child, Fannie [Fanny], in 1857. Jackson was also a certified Methodist Episcopal Exhorter, or, lay preacher. Jackson became an Episcopal minister, and served as the rector at the St. Mary Anne's Parish, also known as North Elk Parish, from 1861 to 1868. From 1869 to 1871, he preached at Christ Church in Port Republic, Calvert County, Maryland. The couple had two more daughters, Mary [Mamie] L. (born ca. 1868) and Harriet [Hattie] E. (born 1869). In 1874, Jackson obtained the post of rector at Trinity Parish, Charles County, Maryland, where he remained until 1881. Mary Eliza Bradbury Jackson died at the Rectory in Trinity Parish on October 23, 1875.


The collection is organized as one series.

Series 1

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries purchased the Papers of Mary Eliza Bradbury from Scott Peterson, a manuscripts dealer, in 1987.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital copies of the letters in this collection are available at in the University of Maryland's Digital Collections.

Processing Information

The collection was arranged chronologically by date and placed in acid-free folders.

Guide to the Mary Eliza Bradbury papers
Processed by Mary A. Stevanus.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742