Mordecai family papers, 1649-1947 (bulk 1810-1850).

Creator: Mordecai family.
Collection number: 847
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Abstract: Mordecai family of Warrenton and Raleigh, N.C., and Richmond, Va. Prominent family members included Jacob Mordecai (1762-1838); his sons Samuel (1786-1865), Solomon (1792-1869), and George W. (1801-1871); and his daughters Ellen (1790-1884), Emma (1812-1906), and Rachel Mordecai Lazarus (1788-1838). The collection consists of primarily personal letters (bulk 1810-1850) containing detailed information about family, social, and local events in Richmond and Petersburg, Va.; Raleigh, Warrenton, and Wilmington, N.C.; and Mobile, Ala. Subjects include the Mordecai Female Academy at Warrenton, N.C., 1809-1818; the Richmond Theater fire of 1811; correspondence between Rachel Mordecai Lazarus and novelist Maria Edgeworth; activities in Virginia, North Carolina, and New Orleans during the War of 1812; travels of family members; Judaism; Ellen Mordecai’s writing and publishing; and births, deaths, and domestic activities. Emma Mordecai’s journal, 1864-1865, chronicles the fall of Richmond, Va. The Addition of January 2007 includes personal letters between family members; 1816 letters by Maria Edgeworth and Richard Lovell Edgeworth responding to Rachel Mordecai Lazarus’s letter concerning Edgeworth’s literary treatment of Jews; and reminiscences, song lyrics, and fragments. The Addition of September 2007 includes letters written to and by Mordecai family members, 1865 and 1916-1917, and a poem dated 1945. The Addition of December 2007 contains the three-volume “A Memoir of Maria Edgeworth with a Selection from Her Letters by the late Mrs. Edgeworth” (unpublished) with accompanying notes tipped in. The Addition of April 2011 includes a volume of typewritten copies of correspondence between Rachel Mordecai Lazarus and Maria Edgeworth, 1815-1838, with one 1816 letter to Lazarus from Edgeworth’s father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth. The first entry is a copy of the 1815 letter written to Maria Edgeworth by Rachel Mordecai Lazarus, in which Lazarus questioned Edgeworth’s treatment of Jewish characters in earlier works (see the Addition of January 2007). In a September 1823 letter, Maria Edgeworth described her friendship with Sir Walter Scott. There are also several 1831 letters that reference the Southampton, Va., slave insurrection led by Nat Turner; correspondence between Maria Edgeworth and Rachel Mordecai Lazarus and Alfred Mordecai following Rachel Mordecai Lazarus’s death in 1838; a sketch of Edgeworthstown, Maria Edgeworth’s residence in Ireland; a lithograph of Richard Lovell Edgeworth; and two 1907 letters between Rosa Mordecai and Civil War author Morris Schaff. The Addition of May 2012 contains a small handmade account book with manuscript entries, presumably made by Ellen Mordecai. The account book was laid in a published copy of History of a Heart, written by Ellen Mordecai and published in 1845. Entries document contributions to charities and for religious purposes from the proceeds of sales of History of a Heart.

Repository: Southern Historical Collection

Collection Highlights: Suberies 2.2 Miscellaneous Financial and Legal Papers contains an 1853 document discussing the division of slaves belonging to Samuel Simpson of Craven County, North Carolina (see Folder 94).

There are also several 1831 letters that refer to Nat Turner’s rebellion in Southampton County, Va. (See Folder 126).