Guide to the Amy Morris Bradley Papers, 1806-1921 (bulk 1841-1921)
Amy Morris Bradley was a nurse and agent of the U.S. Sanitary Commission during the Civil War as well as an educator in Maine, 1840s-1850s, and Wilmington, N.C., 1865-1890s. Collection comprises correspondence, diaries, record books, and photographs documenting Bradley's family life and teaching in Maine during the 1840s, her travels throughout the South and Costa Rica in the 1850s, her duties as a nurse at several U.S. Sanitary Commission convalescent camps during the Civil War, and her post-war work in Wilmington, N.C., where she founded free schools for white children in 1866 and 1872 under the auspices of the Soldiers' Memorial Society and worked as an administrator in the public school system until 1891. The collection includes two salted paper prints and several albumen photographs of Civil War relief camps, some by noted photographer Alexander Gardner.
- Collection Number
- Amy Morris Bradley papers
- 1806-1921, bulk 1841-1921
- Bradley, Amy Morris
- 3 Linear Feet
- David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
- Materials in English
Collection comprises correspondence, diaries, record books, and photographs documenting Bradley's family life and teaching in Maine during the 1840s, her travels throughout the South and Costa Rica in the 1850s, her duties as a nurse at several U.S. Sanitary Commission convalescent camps during the Civil War, and her post-war work in Wilmington, N.C., where she founded free schools for white children in 1866 and 1872 under the auspices of the Soldiers' Memorial Society and worked as an administrator in the public school system until 1891. The collection includes two salted paper prints and several albumen photographs of Civil War relief camps, some by noted photographer Alexander Gardner.
Organized into the following series: Correspondence and related materials, Bound volumes, Photographs.
Access to the Collection
Collection is open for research.
Researchers must register and agree to copyright and privacy laws before using this collection.
All or portions of this collection may be housed off-site in Duke University's Library Service Center. The library may require up to 48-hours to retrieve these materials for research use.
Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.
Use & Permissions
The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.
How to Cite
[Identification of item], Amy Morris Bradley Papers, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.
Series contains letters to and from Amy Morris Bradley, related ephemera, notes and receipts, third-party correspondence about Bradley, and one folder of newspaper clippings. The majority of material relates to Bradley's time in Costa Rica, her work as a field nurse and for the U.S. Sanitary Commission during the Civil War, and her time as an educator in Wilmington, N.C.
In addition to family letters, there are several letters with soldiers and their relatives thanking her for her service. Included is a petition from 1865 signed by 320 soldiers recommended to the Secretary of War that Bradley be commissioned to major in the U.S. Army for her service. Clippings relate primarily to the Tileston Normal School, although some are also about Mary Hemenway, a benefactress of Tileston. Later correspondence comes from parents of students in Wilmington and from former students, many of whom maintained a close friendship with Bradley over many years. Ephemera includes programs of events at Tileston.
Arranged in chronological order.
The bound volumes in this series document Bradley's life and work, particularly during the Civil War and as an educator in Boston in the 1840s and in Wilmington, NC in the 1860s-1880s. A memo book for 1862 to 1863 gives daily details on camp life, numbers of soldiers treated, lists of supplies used, and medical treatments. Two volumes from 1861 to 1865 include several albumen photographs and focus on her work as a field nurse for the 3rd and 5th Maine regiments, at a home for invalid soldiers in Washington, D.C., and running convalescent camps for the U.S. Sanitary Commission.
Arranged in chronological order.
The series includes two salted paper prints and several albumen photographs of Civil War relief camps in in Pennsylvania, Virgina and North Carolina, including some by noted Scottish hotographer Alexander Gardner. Many of the images are similiar to or duplicates of those that appear in Bradley's record book and journal of her time with the U.S. Sanitary Commission (see the Bound Volume series). There are also images of a Maine residence and the Tileston Normal School, founded by Bradley in Wilmington, N.C., and portraits of Amy Morris Bradley.
Two 1863 color lithographs are of Federal hospitals near Alexandria.
Alphabetical within subject groupings (Civil War, Wilmington, portraits).
Amy Morris Bradley was born in East Vassalboro, Maine on September 12, 1823, the youngest of several children. In 1840, she began work as a school teacher, first in her hometown and later in Charlestown and East Cambridge, Massachusetts. After several years of suffering from respiratory illness, she elected to leave New England in late 1853 for San Jose, Costa Rica, where she served as a governess and teacher. She established the first English-langauge school in Central America and taught there for three year, returning to the states in 1857 when her elderly father fell ill. After his passing she relocated to the Boston area where she served as a translator.
The day after the first Battle of Bull Run, on July 22, 1861, Bradley wrote to George Brickett, the acting surgeon for the Third Maine Regiment, volunteering her services. She began employment as his field nurse in late August 1861, and by October was serving under him as matron of the regiment for the Fifth Maine. The following spring she joined the U.S. Sanitary Commission, serving on transport boats and later running a home for invalid soldiers in Washington, DC. From Decemer 17, 1862 to September 12, 1865, Bradley served as a special relief agent at the Convalescent Camp in Alexandria, Virginia. She served for the entire life of the camp, arriving before the barracks had been erected and remaining until the hospital was decommissioned.
Following the war, the Soldier's Memoiral Society and the American Unitarian Association recruited Bradley for missionary work in Wilmington, North Carolina. Once there, she determined the greatest need was for a school for poor white children, which she opened in January 1867 to three children. Within a week, more than sixty had enrolled. Bradley founded a number of schools over the next few years. Within five years, Bradley with support from Boston philantropist Mary Tileston Hemenway raise the funds necessary to construct a modern school building. Opened in 1872 and known as the Tileston School, this was the first free public school in Wilmington. Bradley continued to teach there 1891. She passed away on January 15, 1904 in her small cottage located on the school's grounds.
Click to find related materials at Duke University Libraries.
- Bradley family
- Bradley, Amy Morris
- Gardner, Alexander
- Hemenway, Mary
- Soldiers' Memorial Society (Boston, Mass.)
- Sellers, David
- United States Sanitary Commission
- United States. Army. Maine Infantry Regiment, 5th (1861-1864)
- United States. Army. Maine Infantry Regiment, 3rd (1861-1865)
The Amy Morris Bradley Papers were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase between 1970 and 1981.
Processed by: Kat Stefko, September 2012