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Briggs Family Papers

Identifier: Midwest-MS-072

Scope and Content of the Collection

Letters from Elijah Briggs to parents Benjamin and Susanna Briggs and brothers Alexander and Benjamin. Also letters from Elijah Briggs' wife Helen Briggs to her mother-in-law, two essays written by Elijah Briggs, a few miscellaneous letters, and one photo, possibly of Benjamin and Susanna Briggs.

Elijah Briggs' letters describe life in Indiana and the changes taking place in the Wabash Valley during the late 1830s to the early 1850s. Briggs takes various jobs, chronicles the price of grain, pork, and whiskey, and talks of starting his own business. In one letter from 1939 Briggs expresses frustration over President Andrew Jackson's "Bank War" and the economic collapse that took place in its wake. Briggs' wife Helen describes an isolated domestic life, and her great sadness at the loss of her children. One of Briggs' essays, entitled "Priest Craft" derides the role of priests in society, which he says, "seeks to keep people in religious darkness," a view which may indicate that Briggs was a Quaker.


  • Creation: 1837-1910



Materials are in English.

Conditions Governing Access

The Briggs Family Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).

Ownership and Literary Rights

The Briggs Family Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.

Biography of Elijah Briggs

Elijah Briggs was born in 1810 in Vermont. He wrote to his parents Benjamin and Susanna Briggs, who are residing in Ohio, from various towns in the Wabash Valley area of Indiana, including Table Rock, Lafayette, and Attica. He seems to have been employed as a laborer, and in shipping and receiving at an area dry goods store. He was married to Helen M. Briggs and they had several children, at least two of whom died in infancy. Three daughters appear to have survived, Mary, Emma, and Julia. He died in 1854.


0.1 Linear Feet (1 folder)


Letters from Elijah Briggs of Indiana to parents Benjamin and Susanna Briggs of Ohio and brothers Alexander and Benjamin; letters from Elijah Briggs' wife Helen Briggs to her mother-in-law; two essays written by Elijah Briggs; a few miscellaneous letters; and one photo, possibly of Benjamin and Susanna Briggs.


Materials arranged chronologically.

Collection Stack Location

1 1 2



Processed by

Lisa Janssen, 2010.


This inventory was created with the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this inventory do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Inventory of the Briggs Family Papers, 1837-1910
Lisa Janssen
Language of description
Script of description

Revision Statements

  • 08/17/2011: Revisions, additions, and updates were made.

Repository Details

Part of the The Newberry Library - Modern Manuscripts and Archives Repository

60 West Walton Street
Chicago Illinois 60610 United States