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Postmark Syracuse, addressed to Mary E Knickerbocker, Tooker’s Female Academy, Poughkeepsie N. York, Care of J. C. Tooker

This letter is written in pencil, which is unusual and Emma excuses herself for doing so. She closes with a cryptic post-script, signed with another name but in the same handwriting. There do not appear to be any traces of invisible ink, rather, a reference to Immanuel Kant’s idea that if you wear green glasses, you think the whole world is green – that what you perceive is not necessarily what is true (my apologies to philosophy majors for probably getting that wrong). As Emma and Mary were both well-educated at the Poughkeepsie Female Academy it’s not unreasonably to expect that they would have learned of Kant.

Her full name is derived from the fourth letter in this series from Almira Culver

Syracuse Feb 18th [probably 1854]

My dearest Mary,

1 know that you have reason for being displeased at my negligence but “not having time” must be my plea again, a rather poor one I suppose you think but were you in my place you would think differently.

Poor dear Nelli how unfortunate she is to be ill so many times away from home but I presume she had the best of care. I feel rejoiced that it did not prove fatal as I feared it would when I received your dear acceptable letter.

Maria’s letter I received this morning I will answer it in a day or two, meanwhile give her my best love.

Is Miss Platt still there and does she act just as usual? Is Mary Pulver there? and did she receive my letter?

How is your dear brother I hope better if not we will rely on the promises of our Heavenly Father “who doeth all things well.”

Has Miss Jessop returned home? I am sorry that I could not find time to write her before she returned, but it was impossible I suppose she is much “hurt” (?) as she terms it.

Do not forget to give my very best love to Misses Noyes and Dickson Culver & all that inquire for me.

Dear Lizzie on the first of April we are going to remove to Elbridge 15 miles west of this place, and next summer you must come and make me a visit.

I have been there visiting for a long time.

I think you must be very much surprised that I write with a pencil, but it is twilight and it is so much more handy so pray, excuse me for being so impolite. The library must now be a source of comfort to you girls, but I don’t think it got any more than it needed. Now Lizzie write directly and then I will answer it as soon as I get it, so that we can hear often from each other and send me your home direction please.

Yours true,


Perhaps you cannot read all of this but you must put on your green glasses.

Minnie Marvin