Rebecca Singer Collins papers

Date created 1824-1886
Creator Collins, Rebecca, 1805-1892
Abstract Letters and diaries of Rebecca Singer Collins (1804-1892), a nineteenth-century Quaker well known for her religious and philanthropic work. The collection contains many letters between Rebecca and Isaac Collins during his extended business trip to London in 1845. Rebecca's diaries in the form of booklets and individual pages are dated 1824-1847. Entries are not in order; some are on stray pages rather than in books, and some of the entries in books have been copied from stray scraps. Most entries concern Rebecca's religious feelings and her often-repeated desire to dedicate herself more and more fully to her faith. Some later entries describe her charitable visits to prisoners, the poor, the sick, and the patients of an insane asylum. One diary is dedicated to the illness and death of Rebecca's brother Henry, including accounts of the remedies offered by doctors, and of Henry's mental and spiritual condition.
Additional Description Collins's main interlocutor was her husband; her letters to him largely concern religion, family, her and others' health, and her daily activities. The most interesting parts of this collection are diaries from the 1840s. While earlier writings focus on Collins's religious journey, later diaries describe her visits to prisons and almshouses in some detail, including descriptions of her interactions with prisoners. Visits include several trips to Blockley Almshouse, including one with Dorothy Dix , as well as to the Moral Reform Retreat for Coloured Women, Moyamensing Prison, the Magdalen Asylum, and the House of Refuge.
Research Interest While not about women's rights per se, Collins's writings show how religion pushed women to be involved in public life. Like her friend Dorothy Dix, Collins felt that she had a right and a duty to enter spaces like almshouses and prisons, ministering to both women and men. Papers also offer a glimpse of how an elite Quaker woman viewed prisoners, the poor, women of immoral character (her emphasis) and more.
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Local identifier HC.MC-1196
Contributing institution Haverford College Libraries, Quaker & Special Collections
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