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English Letters and Indian Literacies

Reading, Writing, and New England Missionary Schools, 1750-1830

Hilary E. Wyss

Publication Year: 2012

Published by: University of Pennsylvania Press

Series: Haney Foundation Series

Cover, Title Page, Copyright

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p. vii

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pp. ix-xii

Early Native American studies have blossomed in recent decades, and it has been a privilege to engage with this field at such an exciting moment. Ten or fifteen years ago extraordinary work on Native Americans in colonial New England was emerging...

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Introduction: Technologies of Literacy

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pp. 1-32

Written to the headmaster of the Cornwall Mission School in Connecticut by a young Ojibwe student in the mid- 1820s, this letter is a dizzying spin through the broader issues of charity education at the center of this book. The student signs this letter...

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1. Narratives and Counternarratives: Producing Readerly Indians in Eighteenth-Century New England

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pp. 33-73

Eleazar Wheelock’s account books for Moor’s Charity School in the 1760s are a welter of detail. From buttons (small and large, horn, metal, and wood) to buckles (knee and shoe), pins, needles, combs (ivory and horn), sealing wax, razors, “barber’s scissors,” tea, handkerchiefs...

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2. The Writerly Worlds of Joseph Johnson

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pp. 74-108

References to the pocket watches owned by a number of students and teachers affiliated with Moor’s Charity School are scattered among Eleazar Wheelock’s accounts. Throughout the eighteenth century, watches were markers of bourgeois status...

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3. Brainerd’s Missionary Legacy: Death and the Writing of Cherokee Salvation

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pp. 109-149

In January 1770 Eleazar Wheelock wrote to a correspondent in New York, thanking him for some books he had recently sent, including one on David Brainerd. He added, “But You made one Mistake, dear Sir. You sent me Mr. Brainerd’s Life instead of his Journal among...

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4. The Foreign Mission School and the Writerly Indian

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pp. 150-189

John Ridge bought a watch in 1818, on his journey from the Cherokee Nation to the Cornwall Foreign Mission School in Connecticut. When he arrived at the school that was to be his home for the next four years, the missionaries criticized this purchase...

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After Words: Native Literacy and Autonomy

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pp. 190-210

From the seventeenth century onward there is a clear pattern to missionary benevolence; an aggressive charity drive (usually with an accompanying pamphlet or petition touting the promise of a particular situation) drums up funds for people, buildings...


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pp. 211-230

Works Cited

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pp. 231-241


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pp. 243-248

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pp. 249-251

This project has been more than a decade in the making, and along the way I have benefited from the support of both institutions and individuals. The American Antiquarian Society (AAS), the Connecticut Historical Society, the Cornwall...

E-ISBN-13: 9780812206036
Print-ISBN-13: 9780812244137

Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Haney Foundation Series
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OCLC Number: 822017938
MUSE Marc Record: Download for English Letters and Indian Literacies

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Indians of North America -- Education -- New England.
  • Indians of North America -- New England -- Intellectual life.
  • Indians of North America -- Missions -- New England.
  • Written communication -- New England -- History.
  • Literacy -- New England -- History.
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