Affectionately, Rachel: Letters from India, 1860-1884

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Kent State University Press, 1992 - Literary Collections - 351 pages
Rachel Kerr Johnson's lifetime collection of letters offers the unique perspective of a 19th-century woman, wife, mother, and American abroad. Besides showcasing her talent for lively storytelling, they portray both the ordinary and extraordinary observations of a woman who spent more than 20 years travelling in India with her missionary husband and their children. In 1856, Rachel attended the Female Seminary in Steubenville, Ohio, where she began her correspondence with family members in Hookstown, Pennsylvania. She married Will Johnson in 1860 and, after a much-noted 120-day sea voyage, established herself as a homemaker in various Presbyterian missions throughout the Northwestern Provinces of India until 1884. Her countless personal letters reveal the closeness she felt to her family despite the distance and speak of the hardships of disease and the difficulties of raising children in a foreign culture. They provide colorful descriptions of the landscape, keen insights about India and the customs of its people, and day-to-day details of mission life. Her letters are additionally illuminating for their perspective on the Civil War in America and the social relationship between American missionaries and British officials. News of the war reached India months late, anguishing the distanced Americans, and expressed the anti-Union sentiments of the British press. This alienated Rachel and other Union sympathizers, demonstrating the reserve between British and American communities in India at the time. Rachel's final letters recount her time in Charlotte, North Carolina, where Will served as president of Biddle University. An epilogue gives a brief description of the activities of Will andtheir children after Rachel's accidental death in 1888. Affectionately, Rachel has been edited to provide ease of reading and understanding for a contemporary audience. Its focus is on Rachel's observations, descriptions, feelings, and relationships rather than a scholarly reproduction of her literary style. Thus contemporary punctuation and paragraph markings have been inserted to produce a smoother narrative flow. Stunning 19th-century photographs of Indian servants, monuments, landscapes, and marketplaces, among others depicting fellow missionaries and family members in Hookstown, enhance Rachel's letters. Readers with a special interest in mission literature and letters will find this collection fascinating, as will historians of 19th-century America, British Empire, and India.

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Affectionately, Rachel: letters from India, 1860-1884

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Johnson (1837-88) lived in northern India with her husband, a Presbyterian missionary, from 1860 to 1883. As the title to this work implies, her letters to family members in Pennsylvania express the ... Read full review


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December 186oAugust 1861
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Page 343 - Brice. — A ROMANIZED HINDUSTANI AND ENGLISH DICTIONARY. Designed for the use of Schools and for Vernacular Students of the Language.

About the author (1992)

Barbara Mitchell Tull is the great-granddaughter of Rachel Kerr Johnson. She is a coordinator of Delaware (Ohio) Home Share and the author of 150 Years of Excellence, a Pictorial History of Ohio Wesleyan University. Her former positions include superintendent of an Ohio Board of Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities, assistant professor at Ohio Wesleyan University, and communicative disorders clinicians.

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