restricted access Deceased but Not Forgotten: Obituaries for Herman Melville in the Upstate Press
Abstract

Obituaries of major writers are valuable documents sometimes revealing new information. For a number of years, the only newspaper obituaries of Melville known to scholars were those found in large city papers. Newspapers from Albany, Lansingburgh, and Troy, New York, or Pittsfield, Massachusetts—locations important in Melville’s biography—have rarely been consulted. I studied newspapers from these communities and others in a fifty-mile radius, resulting in the discovery of eleven newly identified obituaries. Some of these, particularly one found in a Troy newspaper, reveal new insights into Melville’s family activities and social life. We can now document that Melville revisited his boyhood home of Lansingburgh, meeting former Lansingburgh Academy schoolmates in 1886, a year when the contents of the Gansevoort mansion in Gansevoort, Saratoga County, were being inventoried, following the death of his sister Frances. In addition, we now know that young Herman was a frequent visitor to Waterford, New York, in the 1830s and 1840s, there to see his cousins, the family of the widow Mary [Chandonette] Gansevoort.


pdf