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Abigail Mason and Colgate Family correspondence collection

 Collection 2017-088-MASON

Abigail Gregory Mason (1797-1889), wife of prolific hymn composer and music educator Lowell Mason, was born into one of the most influential families in the nineteenth century. After marrying Lowell Mason in Savannah, Georgia, the family moved to Boston and were highly involved in the music education efforts in the city schools. Throughout their lifetimes, Mr. and Mrs. Lowell Mason were in contact with a third prominent family, the Colgates. This collection includes two notecards and their original envelopes, as well as a longer autograph letter signed by Abigail Mason, in correspondence with three members of the Colgate family.


  • June 1888 - circa 1900
  • Majority of material found in 1888

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use. Materials from this collection must be used in the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library's Irving and Margery Morgan Lowens Special Collections Room during SCPA’s operating hours. Please contact the curator for an appointment or if you have questions related to digital access of the materials.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Copyright was not transferred to the University of Maryland with the physical gift of any copyrighted materials. The copyright holder maintains possession of any copyrighted materials in the collection. The University of Maryland Libraries is granted permission for the use in scholarly research by the Libraries’ patrons under fair use in Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act.

To inquire about duplication of materials for research or for publication, please contact SCPA’s curator.


6 Items

Content Description

The Abigail Mason and Colgate Family Correspondence is solely from the year 1888, with the exception of the unknown date for the label, written later by another family member. The collection consists of personal correspondence in the form of notecards, their original envelopes, and a letter. These items revolve around the occasion of Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Colgate’s marriage and include two notecards addressed to the newlyweds, as well as a letter to Gilbert Colgate’s mother, Elizabeth Ann Morse Colgate. The letter to Elizabeth Colgate is written in the last year of Abigail’s life, and, according to the letter, during a time of poor health.

Historical Note

Abigail Gregory Mason was the wife of Lowell Mason (1792-1872), a prolific hymn composer and music educator. She married and resided in Savannah, Georgia before moving to Boston for her husband’s growing musical career. Abigail was the mother of four sons, one of whom, Henry Mason, went on to be a co-founder of the successful Mason and Hamlin Company. These letters were sent from their last residence, Silverspring, in Orange, New Jersey.

Lowell Mason was a successful composer and music educator, establishing the first music curriculum in American public schools. While his compositional and educational output was geared toward American congregations and students, his compositional style reflected that of established European composers such as Mozart and Haydn. He is recognized as the founding father of music education in America and many of his compositions, especially his hymns, are still performed today.

Arrangement of Collection

This collection is organized into one series.

  1. Correspondence

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

Purchased from a manuscript dealer by Vincent Novara, Curator for Special Collections in Performing Arts in May 2017.

Related Materials

Lowell Mason collection, Special Collections in Performing Arts, University of Maryland (finding aid)

Mason, Lowell, and Michael Broyles. A Yankee Musician in Europe : The 1837 Journals of Lowell Mason. Studies in Music, No. 110. Rochester, N.Y.: University of Rochester Press, 2010. (Available from Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library)

Abigail Mason and Colgate Family correspondence collection
Evangeline Athanasiou
May 2017
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Library Details

Part of the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library

University of Maryland Libraries
8270 Alumni Drive
College Park MD 20742 United States