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Elias W. Hale to Jane Hale letter

 Unprocessed Material — Folder: 1
Identifier: ViU-2023-0020

Content Description

This collection includes a single letter written by Elias White Hale, addressed to his mother, Jane Hale of Mifflin County, Pennsylvania. Dated February 8, 1842, Elias wrote the letter as a student at the Fairfax Institute in Herndon, Virginia. He discusses daily life at the school and the smallpox outbreak prevalent in Washington, D.C., at the time and expresses his thoughts about family news, including various losses and sicknesses. Elias discusses being vaccinated for smallpox but is worried about complications after he witnessed "one of the boys faint when he was done." The letter mentions the death of a classmate named Heywood, who "died last week after being sick for some time"; although they "did not think him [Heywood] dangerous at all." He shares another story about a student named Landon Eliason whose mother's house was set on fire. Elias writes that he can see the fire from the window as he writes the letter. Because of this death and the prevalence of the disease in the city, Elias tells his mother that he no longer plans to visit Washington. Elias Hale was eighteen when he wrote this letter to his mother. The son of a Yale-educated Pennsylvania lawyer, Elias attended the prestigious Fairfax Institute near Washington, D.C. Both northerners and southerners, particularly affluent Virginia families, attended. For example, a year after Hale wrote this letter, eleven-year-old George Washington Custis Lee, eldest son of Captain Robert E. Lee, enrolled at the Institute, where he studied classics under the headmaster, Mr. Smith. Hale graduated and attended medical school.

Acquisition Type



Purchased from Michael Brown Rare Books, 20 January 2023.

Restrictions Apply



  • Creation: 8 February 1842


0.03 Cubic Feet (1 letter-sized file folder)


One letter