Collection Title: Elizabeth Fish Alexander Darlington Papers
Collection Number: 198
Dates of Collection: 1856-1903
Box Numbers: 1 box, 10 folders
Repository: Chester County Historical Society
Project Archivist: Jasmine Smith
Elizabeth Fish Alexander’s papers begin in 1856, when she was a student at the Ercildoun Boarding School, in Ercildoun, Pennsylvania. Through her letters to her mother, she details her life as a student at the girls’ boarding school. Elizabeth Alexander graduated valedictorian of her class in 1858, and was offered a position to remain at the school as a helper, and then promoted to a teaching role. As she assumed her professional role, she also met Richard Darlington, who came to work permanently at the school in 1859. He purchased the school from Smedley Darlington in 1861. Richard and Elizabeth married in 1861 and had five girls: Ella, Marian, Sara, Alice, and Grace. Elizabeth discusses her daughters, home life, and the running of the school in her letters to her mother in the 1860s. During this time, she was also preoccupied with the welfare of her brother, Robert Alexander, who was a Union soldier in the Civil War. Later in her life, Elizabeth Fish Alexander Darlington traveled, visiting Canada, the Western US, and California. She died during the trip to California in 1903.
This collection primarily consists of correspondence from Elizabeth Fish Alexander Darlington to her mother, Sarah Fish Alexander. Letters to and from Elizabeth Darlington’s children, written to and from her husband, and written to and from her brother are included. A few ephemera items and papers related to earlier family generations are present.
Letters are arranged chronologically and grouped by writer, with recipient as a secondary guideline. Undated letters have be placed into chronological order through matching references to events in dated letters and discussion of historic events.
Many letters are tagged with notes created by Elizabeth Fish Alexander Darlington’s granddaughter. While many of these notes are helpful, some dates and events listed in the notes do not correspond correctly to the letters themselves. Researchers are encouraged to read both notes and letters in full.
See the CCHC Schools Collection for more information on the Ercildoun Boarding School (later Darlington Seminary).
Folder 1: Elizabeth F. A. Darlington to Sarah Fish Alexander, 1856 – 1857
Folder 2: Elizabeth F. A. Darlington to Sarah Fish Alexander, 1858 and 1859
Folder 3: Elizabeth F. A. Darlington to Sarah Fish Alexander, 1860-1862
Folder 4: Elizabeth F. A. Darlington to Sarah Fish Alexander, 1863-1868
Folder 5: Elizabeth F.A. Darlington’s Late Life Travels and Death
Folder 6: Correspondence of Elizabeth F.A. Darlington’s daughters and granddaughters
Folder 7: Letters and Documents of Extended Family
Folder 8: Miscellaneous
Includes mementos, invitations, news clippings, poems. Items of note include a listing of important marriage, birth, and death dates for Elizabeth F. A. Darlington’s immediate family and a notebook listing all her books and to whom she wished to will them at her death.
Folder 9: Richard Darlington Letters
Folder 10: Robert Alexander Letters