With Family Weekend arriving, we’re feeling another opportunity to reflect on a favorite theme of so many collections of the Norwich University Archives … that our students (and their families!) remain in some essential ways very similar to their counterparts from over a hundred years ago.
Our Digital Collections now includes several examples of letters between young cadets and their parents from the 1820s to 1850s. A particular favorite to check out is Samuel Pitkin, whose detailed messages to his mother, father, and sister included drawings and news for “no one excepting our family.”
Letter from Samuel Pitkin — “To be seen and read by no one excepting our family” — to his mother, 13 July 1822 (click on the image to view in our Digital Collections)
Other early NU families to discover include parents and relatives of James Ashton Hall, Edward Crowell, Edward Kelleran Harris, George Olcott, and Elijah Kent Hubbard. When our students read these letters, they often find that the sentiments and experiences are surprisingly similar to their own. We think their parents would likely say the same!
As a bonus example–and one that we hope is not quite as applicable to modern families–here’s a quote from a father’s letter to Alden Partridge that often gets heads nodding and people smiling:
My son whom I intend to send to your school is now at home … he is lazy, I depend on you to break him of that – he is tall and crooked, straighten him …
– David Porter, 2 September 1820
Curious to know how much has (or has not) changed over the last 200 years? Check out some of these letters and let us know if any of their concerns or complaints sound familiar.
The University Archives will be open from 1:00 – 6:00 PM on Thursday and Friday of Family Weekend. We are here to serve the entire Norwich community, and we hope that the parents and families will take the time to become as engaged as their students are in the Norwich story!