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Collection Number: 00847

Collection Title: Mordecai Family Papers, 1649-1947

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This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the FAQ section for more information.


This collection was processed with support from the Randleigh Foundation Trust.

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Size 4.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 1900 items)
Abstract Mordecai family of Warrenton and Raleigh, N.C., and Richmond, Va. Prominent family members included Jacob Mordecai (1762-1838); his sons Samuel (1786-1865), Solomon (1792-1869), and George W. (1801-1871); and his daughters Ellen (1790-1884), Emma (1812-1906), and Rachel Mordecai Lazarus (1788-1838). The collection consists of primarily personal letters (bulk 1810-1850) containing detailed information about family, social, and local events in Richmond and Petersburg, Va.; Raleigh, Warrenton, and Wilmington, N.C.; and Mobile, Ala. Subjects include the Mordecai Female Academy at Warrenton, N.C., 1809-1818; the Richmond Theater fire of 1811; correspondence between Rachel Mordecai Lazarus and novelist Maria Edgeworth; activities in Virginia, North Carolina, and New Orleans during the War of 1812; travels of family members; Judaism; Ellen Mordecai's writing and publishing; and births, deaths, and domestic activities. Emma Mordecai's journal, 1864-1865, chronicles the fall of Richmond, Va. The Addition of January 2007 includes personal letters between family members; 1816 letters by Maria Edgeworth and Richard Lovell Edgeworth responding to Rachel Mordecai Lazarus's letter concerning Edgeworth's literary treatment of Jews; and reminiscences, song lyrics, and fragments. The Addition of September 2007 includes letters written to and by Mordecai family members, 1865 and 1916-1917, and a poem dated 1945. The Addition of December 2007 contains the three-volume "A Memoir of Maria Edgeworth with a Selection from Her Letters by the late Mrs. Edgeworth" (unpublished) with accompanying notes tipped in. The Addition of April 2011 includes a volume of typewritten copies of correspondence between Rachel Mordecai Lazarus and Maria Edgeworth, 1815-1838, with one 1816 letter to Lazarus from Edgeworth's father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth. The first entry is a copy of the 1815 letter written to Maria Edgeworth by Rachel Mordecai Lazarus, in which Lazarus questioned Edgeworth's treatment of Jewish characters in earlier works (see the Addition of January 2007). In a September 1823 letter, Maria Edgeworth described her friendship with Sir Walter Scott. There are also several 1831 letters that reference the Southampton, Va., slave insurrection led by Nat Turner; correspondence between Maria Edgeworth and Rachel Mordecai Lazarus and Alfred Mordecai following Rachel Mordecai Lazarus's death in 1838; a sketch of Edgeworthstown, Maria Edgeworth's residence in Ireland; a lithograph of Richard Lovell Edgeworth; and two 1907 letters between Rosa Mordecai and Civil War author Morris Schaff. The Addition of May 2012 contains a small handmade account book with manuscript entries, presumably made by Ellen Mordecai. The account book was laid in a published copy of History of a Heart, written by Ellen Mordecai and published in 1845. Entries document contributions to charities and for religious purposes from the proceeds of sales of History of a Heart.
Creator Mordecai family.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
This collection contains additional materials that are not processed and are currently not available to researchers. For information about access to these materials, contact Research and Instructional Services staff. Please be advised that preparing unprocessed materials for access can be a lengthy process.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Mordecai Family Papers #847, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Microfilm copy of most items except additions available.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Patty Mordecai of Raleigh, N.C., in 1939, 1943, 1944, and 1949; of her niece, Mrs. Gavin Dortch, 1956; of the Warren County Historical Society, Warrenton, N.C., in 1979; from Betty Blumquist Matthews in 2007 (Acc. #100746 and #100813); from Joe Sager in 2007 (Acc. #100823); from Mary Miley Theobald of Richmond, Va., in April 2011 (Acc. #101417); and from Carla M. Schwab in May 2012 (Acc. #101588).
Manuscript essay entitled "Josephine" was the gift of Elsie Mordecai of Blowing Rock, N.C., in 1977. Fading Scenes Recalled by Ellen Mordecai is on loan from the Warren County Historical Society.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Jacob Mordecai (1762-1838) of Philadelphia settled at Warrenton, N.C., in 1794 where he was a merchant and later conducted, with his family, a non-sectarian female seminary from 1809 to 1818.

The Mordecais were prominent in the establishment and support of the Jewish community in any town where they lived. They were related by blood and marriage to other prominent Jewish families in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Md., Richmond, Va., and Raleigh, N.C.

Jacob's first wife was Judith Myers (1762-1796), with whom he had six children: Moses, Rachel, Samuel, Ellen, Solomon, and Caroline. With his second wife, Rebecca Myers, half-sister of Judith, he had seven more: Julia Judith, George W., Alfred, Augustus, Eliza Kennon, Emma, and Laura.

Moses (1785-1824) was a lawyer and judge of Raleigh, N.C. He married first Margaret Lane (d. 1821), a Gentile, with whom her had three children: Henry, Judith Ellen (called Ellen by the family), and Jacob. He married second Ann Wilson (Nancy) Land (d. 1854), Margaret's sister, with whom he had a fourth child, Margaret.

Rachel (1788-1838) married Aaron Lazarus of Wilmington, N.C., a widower with seven children. Rachel bore him four more: Marx Edgeworth, Ellen, Mary Catherine (called either Mary, Kate, or Min), and Julia Judith.

Solomon (1792-1869) studied medicine in Philadelphia, before moving to Mobile, Ala. in 1823. In 1824 he married a Gentile, Caroline Waller, and had many children, including Edward, William, Samuel Fox, Ellen, Susan, Jacob, Thompson, Caroline, and Waller.

Caroline (1794?-1862) married a Gentile, Achilles Plunkett (d. 1824), who had been a teacher at her father's school and who continued the Warrenton Academy after the Mordecais moved to Richmond, Va. Caroline and Achilles had three children. Two, Charles Edward (called Frank) and Alfred Charles, died in 1823. The other, born after Achilles' death, died in 1825. After the death of her husband, Caroline tried to run the Academy. Failing at that, she moved to Raleigh to teach her brother Moses' children. Unhappy there, she moved next to Tennessee in 1833, and then to Mobile, Ala., in 1836. There she remained, running a small school, until returning to Richmond just prior to the Civil War. She died in the insane asylum in Raleigh, N.C., in 1862.

Samuel (1786-1865) was a merchant at Petersburg, Va., and Richmond, Va., and author of Richmond in By-Gone Days. He was charged with the handling of the family's investments. Apparently few of his schemes proved successful. He never married.

Ellen (1790-1884) also never married. She worked as a teacher in the family school and later as a private governess. She also wrote several books, including The History of a Heart describing her conversion to Christianity.

George W. (1801-1871) was a lawyer, banker, businessman, and Episcopal layman of Raleigh, N.C. He married late in life to Margaret B. Cameron (1811-1886).

Alfred (1804-1887) attended West Point and became a career army officer. He married Sara Ann Hays of Philadelphia and raised a large family, including Laura, Rosa, Alfred, Miriam, Augustus, and Gratz. He resigned his commission at the outbreak of the Civil War and refused to fight for either side, although there is evidence that his sympathies lay with the Confederacy. He settled in Philadelphia near his wife's family.

Augustus (1806-1847) married Rosina Ursula Young and lived at "Rosewood," a farm near Richmond, Va. Rosina, although never in robust health, continued to live on the farm and raise her children after Augustus' death. The children included William Young, John Brooke, Rebecca, George Washington, and Augusta.

Eliza Kennon (1809-1861) married Samuel Hays Myers (1798?-1849) of Richmond, Va., and settled with him in Petersburg, Va. They had two children, Edmund Trowbridge Dana (b. 1830) and Caroline (b. 1844). After Samuel's death Eliza apparently resided with her mother, sisters, and brother Samuel in Richmond.

Julia (1799-1852) and Emma (1812-1906) never married. Laura (1818-1839) was engaged to John Young, Augustus' brother-in-law, at the time of her death.

In 1819 the Mordecais retired from teaching, having put aside what they thought was enough to support the family. Jacob, Rebecca, and his unmarried daughters moved to "Spring Farm" outside of Richmond, Va. The farm never proved profitable and as a result of several business reversals the family was soon in financial straits. In 1831 the farm was sold and the family moved into town with the intention of starting another school. It is unclear from the papers whether such a school actually existed, but several of the daughters apparently did teach, either privately or within an existing school.

From 1815 until her death in 1838, Rachel Mordecai Lazarus developed a friendly regular correspondence with the English writer Maria Edgeworth (1767-1849). Edgeworth was born in England, but spent the majority of her life at Edgeworthstown, her father's estate in Ireland. Along with her father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth (1744-1817), Maria Edgeworth authored several popular children's stories and tales of morality. She was also a successful novelist and edited Richard Lovell Edgeworth's memoirs following his death in 1817.

Both Jacob Mordecai and Rachel Mordecai Lazarus died in 1838. After this the family formed two distinct groups. One, headed by Samuel, was based in Richmond, Va., and included at various times Ellen, Emma, Julia, Laura, Eliza (after her husband's death), and Rosina (Young) Mordecai and her children. The children of Aaron and Rachel Mordecai Lazarus apparently lived in Richmond after their father's death in 1841. The second family group was in Raleigh, North Carolina, and consisted of George W. Mordecai and his sister-in-law Nancy (Lane) Mordecai, his sisters Harriet and Temperance Lane, the children of Moses and Margaret (Lane) Mordecai, and Nancy's daughter Margaret. Mary Lazarus joined the group sometime in the mid-1840s. After George's marriage in 1853 the family also included Margaret (Cameron) Mordecai and her invalid sister, Millie Cameron. Satellite groups in Mobile, Ala., included Caroline (Mordecai) Plunkett and the family of Solomon Mordecai. Alfred and his family wrote from wherever they happened to be stationed--primarily Washington, D.C., and Watervliet, N.Y.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

These papers consist chiefly of family letters from the 1790s through the early 1860s. Correspondence of the family with outsiders had been almost entirely excluded from the collection but family letters were deliberately preserved as a "family record" (see Ellen Mordecai's letters of October-November 1854).

In the Mordecai family the regular interchange of letters was a duty; definite rules or traditions governed the compositions; all were written to be read aloud to the receiving household and passed on to affiliated families. The letters contain detailed chronological accounts of the lives of the members of the family and their households and communities. Primary correspondence are Jacob Mordecai, Rachel Mordecai Lazarus, Samuel Mordecai, Solomon Mordecai, Ellen Mordecai, and Emma Mordecai.

After the deaths of Jacob Mordecai and his daughter Rachel Mordecai Lazarus in 1838, the volume of letters decreases noticeably, though in the 1840s and 1850s there is added the correspondence of the third generation. Also included in these later years are papers of Ellen Mordecai (1790-1884), consisting of personal letters from scattered friends and correspondence in connection with her writing and publishing.

Business papers are few and belong primarily to Ellen or concern the Mordecai Female Academy. There are also scattered diaries and other writings.

The Addition of January 2007 includes personal letters between family members; 1816 letters by Maria Edgeworth and Richard Lovell Edgeworth responding to Rachel Mordecai Lazarus's letter concerning Edgeworth's literary treatment of Jews; and reminiscences, song lyrics, and fragments. The Addition of September 2007 includes letters written to and by Mordecai family members, 1865 and 1916-1917, and a poem dated 1945. The Addition of December 2007 contains the three-volume "A Memoir of Maria Edgeworth with a Selection from Her Letters by the late Mrs. Edgeworth" (unpublished) with accompanying notes tipped in.

The Addition of April 2011 includes a volume of typewritten copies of correspondence between Rachel Mordecai Lazarus and Maria Edgeworth, 1815-1838, with one 1816 letter to Lazarus from Edgeworth's father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth. The first entry is a copy of the 1815 letter written to Maria Edgeworth by Rachel Mordecai Lazarus, in which Lazarus questioned Edgeworth's treatment of Jewish characters in earlier works (see the Addition of January 2007). In a September 1823 letter, Maria Edgeworth described her friendship with Sir Walter Scott. There are also several 1831 letters that reference the Southampton, Va., slave insurrection led by Nat Turner; correspondence between Maria Edgeworth and Rachel Mordecai Lazarus and Alfred Mordecai following Rachel Mordecai Lazarus's death in 1838; a sketch of Edgeworthstown, Maria Edgeworth's residence in Ireland; a lithograph of Richard Lovell Edgeworth; and two 1907 letters between Rosa Mordecai and Civil War author Morris Schaff.

The Addition of May 2012 contains a small handmade account book with manuscript entries, presumably made by Ellen Mordecai. The account book was laid in a published copy of History of a Heart, written by Ellen Mordecai and published in 1845. Entries document contributions to charities and for religious purposes from the proceeds of sales of History of a Heart.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1783-1947 and undated.

About 1800 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Family correspondence with a few letters from friends and business associates. The bulk of the letters fall between 1810 and 1850.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. 1783-1808.

About 50 items.

Family correspondence including letters to Esther Cohen, Jacob Mordecai's mother; Judith Myers Mordecai's family in New York; and letters to and from Jacob and Judith, Jacob and Rebecca, and Jacob and his children, including Rachel, Ellen, and Samuel. Judith's letters to her parents describe her family and Warrenton, North Carolina. Letters between Jacob and Judith and Jacob and Rebecca were written primarily during his absences from home and reflect family news. Many of the letters for the early 1800s were to Rachel Mordecai at Warrenton from relatives in Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia. By 1808 Samuel was in Petersburg and there were many letters exchanged between him and his sisters Rachel and Ellen discussing social life and the well-being of Richmond and Petersburg family and friends; and plans for the opening of the Mordecai Female Academy in 1809.

Folder 1

1783-1807 #00847, Subseries: "1.1. 1783-1808." Folder 1

Folder 2

1808 #00847, Subseries: "1.1. 1783-1808." Folder 2

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. 1809-1819.

About 250 items.

Many letters refer to the running of the Mordecai Female Academy, including the burning and rebuilding of the main building in 1811. Rachel, Ellen, and later Solomon all taught at the school, and their letters mention their work and students. Other letter topics include the Richmond Theater fire tragedy of 1811; the progress of the War of 1812 in Virginia, North Carolina, and New Orleans; Samuel's travels in the United States and Europe, 1812-1813 and 1815 (see also his account of his travels in Subseries 3.2); and Samuel's service during the war in the Richmond Light Infantry Blues. In August 1815 Rachel Mordecai wrote to popular English novelist Maria Edgeworth concerning Miss Edgeworth's unflattering portrayal of Jews in her writings (this is the beginning of the Edgeworth correspondence, which is referred to frequently in the family letters, and included in the Addition of April 2011). In 1817 Solomon travelled to Philadelphia, New York City, Saratoga Springs and Ballston Spa, New York, and White Sulphur Springs, Virginia. His letters contain his impressions of these places. Also in 1817 Moses married a Gentile, Margaret Lane (d. 1821), of whom the family disapproved. There are letters exchanges between Moses and his sisters Rachel and Caroline, the former expressing her concern that Moses was making a mistake and the latter expressing her support. In 1819 the family sold the school to Achilles Plunkett and associates and moved to "Spring Farm" outside of Richmond. Solomon left to attend medical school in Philadelphia and wrote frequently to his sisters Ellen and Rachel describing his studies.

Folder 3

1809-1810 #00847, Subseries: "1.2. 1809-1819." Folder 3

Folder 4-5

Folder 4

Folder 5

1811 #00847, Subseries: "1.2. 1809-1819." Folder 4-5

A letter dated 27 December 1811 describes the Richmond Theater fire tragedy

Folder 6

1812 #00847, Subseries: "1.2. 1809-1819." Folder 6

Folder 7

1813 #00847, Subseries: "1.2. 1809-1819." Folder 7

Folder 8-9

Folder 8

Folder 9

1814 #00847, Subseries: "1.2. 1809-1819." Folder 8-9

Folder 10

1815 #00847, Subseries: "1.2. 1809-1819." Folder 10

Folder 11

1816 #00847, Subseries: "1.2. 1809-1819." Folder 11

Folder 12-13

Folder 12

Folder 13

1817 #00847, Subseries: "1.2. 1809-1819." Folder 12-13

Folder 14-15

Folder 14

Folder 15

1818 #00847, Subseries: "1.2. 1809-1819." Folder 14-15

Folder 16

1819 #00847, Subseries: "1.2. 1809-1819." Folder 16

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3. 1820-1824.

About 300 items.

Correspondence includes letters from Solomon while attending medical school in Philadelphia and from his brother Alfred at West Point, discussing their respective studies. Other events discussed in the family correspondence include: Rachel's marriage to Aaron Lazarus of Wilmington, North Carolina, and her life and family there; the death of Margaret (Lane) Mordecai; Solomon's move to Mobile, Alabama, in 1823 to establish his medical practice and his marriage in 1824 to Caroline Waller, a Gentile; the death of Caroline Mordecai Plunkett's two children in 1823, of her husband in 1824, and of her third child in late 1824 or early 1825; Julia Mordecai's visit to Fayetteville, North Carolina; Moses' ill health, travels to various medicinal springs, and eventual death in 1824; and Samuel's business and social life in Petersburg, Virginia.

Folder 17-18

Folder 17

Folder 18

1820 #00847, Subseries: "1.3. 1820-1824." Folder 17-18

Folder 19-21

Folder 19

Folder 20

Folder 21

1821 #00847, Subseries: "1.3. 1820-1824." Folder 19-21

Folder 22-25

Folder 22

Folder 23

Folder 24

Folder 25

1822 #00847, Subseries: "1.3. 1820-1824." Folder 22-25

Folder 26-31

Folder 26

Folder 27

Folder 28

Folder 29

Folder 30

Folder 31

1823 #00847, Subseries: "1.3. 1820-1824." Folder 26-31

Folder 32-37

Folder 32

Folder 33

Folder 34

Folder 35

Folder 36

Folder 37

1824 #00847, Subseries: "1.3. 1820-1824." Folder 32-37

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.4. 1825-1838.

About 700 items.

During this time members of the family lived in Wilmington and Raleigh, North Carolina; Richmond and Petersburg, Virginia; and Mobile, Alabama; and letters were exchanged among all branches. The main branch at "Spring Farm" near Richmond included Jacob and Rebecca, Ellen, Emma, Laura, Augustua, and Julia. Topics of letters include: Alfred's life in the army and at the various places where he was stationed, including Fortress Monroe, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; Frankford Arsenal, Pennsylvania; and Troy, New York; Ellen's visit to Solomon in Mobile in 1831; the Southampton County, Virginia, insurrection, September, 1831; the selling of "Spring Farm" and the family's move into Richmond, 1831; Caroline Mordecai Plunkett's move to Fayette County, Tennessee, in 1833 and emigration to Mobile, Alabama, in 1836; and Rachel Mordecai Lazarus' growing Christian sentiments, 1835, which created a family conflict.

Rachel's letters to Ellen at this time reveal great emotional distress. Not only did she face her father's displeasure, but Rachel's husband, Aaron Lazarus, apparently threatened to take her children away from her if she tried to convert him to her heretical beliefs.

By 1833 George W. Mordecai was living in Raleigh, North Carolina, with his sister-in-law Nancy; his letters to his father and brothers primarily discuss family business matters. Rachel Mordecai Lazarus died suddenly in 1838, having been baptized on her deathbed. Her father Jacob died shortly thereafter, following an extended illness. Both deaths are described in great detail by family members present at the time.

Folder 38-40

Folder 38

Folder 39

Folder 40

1825 #00847, Subseries: "1.4. 1825-1838." Folder 38-40

Folder 41-44

Folder 41

Folder 42

Folder 43

Folder 44

1826 #00847, Subseries: "1.4. 1825-1838." Folder 41-44

Folder 45-47

Folder 45

Folder 46

Folder 47

1827 #00847, Subseries: "1.4. 1825-1838." Folder 45-47

Folder 48-50

Folder 48

Folder 49

Folder 50

1828 #00847, Subseries: "1.4. 1825-1838." Folder 48-50

Folder 51-52

Folder 51

Folder 52

1829 #00847, Subseries: "1.4. 1825-1838." Folder 51-52

Folder 53-54

Folder 53

Folder 54

1830 #00847, Subseries: "1.4. 1825-1838." Folder 53-54

Folder 55-56

Folder 55

Folder 56

1831 #00847, Subseries: "1.4. 1825-1838." Folder 55-56

Folder 57-59

Folder 57

Folder 58

Folder 59

1832 #00847, Subseries: "1.4. 1825-1838." Folder 57-59

Folder 60-62

Folder 60

Folder 61

Folder 62

1833 #00847, Subseries: "1.4. 1825-1838." Folder 60-62

Folder 63-64

Folder 63

Folder 64

1834 #00847, Subseries: "1.4. 1825-1838." Folder 63-64

Folder 65-66

Folder 65

Folder 66

1835 #00847, Subseries: "1.4. 1825-1838." Folder 65-66

Folder 67-68

Folder 67

Folder 68

1836 #00847, Subseries: "1.4. 1825-1838." Folder 67-68

Folder 69-70

Folder 69

Folder 70

1837 #00847, Subseries: "1.4. 1825-1838." Folder 69-70

Folder 71

1838 #00847, Subseries: "1.4. 1825-1838." Folder 71

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.5. 1839-1851.

About 300 items.

Topics of discussion include George's trip to England, 1839, and his visit with Maria Edgeworth's family; the sudden death of sister Laura Mordecai in July 1839; Ellen's writing and publishing (see especially letters from W. S. Simpson of Petersburg) and her book, The History of a Heart, the story of a Jewess who converts to Christianity; the death of Aaron Lazarus in 1841 and guardianship of the Lazarus children. The children, Marx, Ellen, Mary, and Julia lived primarily in RIchmond. In the late 1840s Mary moved to live with her aunt Nancy's family in Raleigh, after it was revealed that the Jewish members of the femily in Richmond were uncomfortable with her Christian beliefs.

Beginning in 1844 there is correspondence between Ellen and her nieces Ellen Mordecai of Raleigh (daughter of Moses and Margaret (Lane) Mordecai) and Mary Catherine Lazarus about religious matters. Other subjects of interest include Ellen's employment as a governess in the Duer family of Weehawken, New York, 1848-1849; the marriage of Ellen of Raleigh to her younger cousin Samuel Fox Mordecai of Mobile; and the sudden engagement, miserable marriage and untimely death, in 1850, of Mary Catherine Lazarus, who had married Drury Thompson of Mobile, Alabama, her uncle Solomon's business partner.

Folder 72

1839 #00847, Subseries: "1.5. 1839-1851." Folder 72

Folder 73-74

Folder 73

Folder 74

1840 #00847, Subseries: "1.5. 1839-1851." Folder 73-74

Folder 75

1841 #00847, Subseries: "1.5. 1839-1851." Folder 75

Folder 76-77

Folder 76

Folder 77

1842 #00847, Subseries: "1.5. 1839-1851." Folder 76-77

Folder 78

1843-1844 #00847, Subseries: "1.5. 1839-1851." Folder 78

Folder 79

1845 #00847, Subseries: "1.5. 1839-1851." Folder 79

Folder 80

1846 #00847, Subseries: "1.5. 1839-1851." Folder 80

Folder 81

1847 #00847, Subseries: "1.5. 1839-1851." Folder 81

Folder 82

1848 #00847, Subseries: "1.5. 1839-1851." Folder 82

Folder 83

1849 #00847, Subseries: "1.5. 1839-1851." Folder 83

Folder 84

1850-1851 #00847, Subseries: "1.5. 1839-1851." Folder 84

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.6. 1852-1861.

About 75 items.

Scattered family correspondence contains comments on George's marriage to Margaret B. Cameron in 1853, and Solomon and Ellen's trip to Philadelphia in 1854 so that Solomon could have a cataract operation. In 1859 Ellen began writing her "Christian letters" (marked with a + at the top of the pages), inserts into family letters that were to be kept separate and secret from Jewish members of the family who would find them unpleasant. The letters reflect her personal religious philosophy, the ways in which her beliefs had helped her to accept the limitations and disappointments of her life, and her wish that various other members of the family would convert. She also frequently referred to reading she had done and to sermons and lectures she had attended.

Folder 85

1852-1855 #00847, Subseries: "1.6. 1852-1861." Folder 85

Folder 86

1856-1859 #00847, Subseries: "1.6. 1852-1861." Folder 86

Folder 87

1860-1861 #00847, Subseries: "1.6. 1852-1861." Folder 87

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.7. 1862-1947.

About 50 items.

Scattered family letters from Mobile and Richmond with references to the war and to family members serving in the Confederate Amry. All three of Rosina's sons as well as William Mordecai of Mobile saw action in Virginia. Rebecca Myers Mordecai died in 1863; in 1864 the family home in Richmond was broken up. Emma stayed primarily with Rosina at Rosewood and her letters describe the ravages of the armies, Confederate and Union, on the property of local farmers.

Folder 88

1862-1868 #00847, Subseries: "1.7. 1862-1947." Folder 88

Folder 89

1874-1947 #00847, Subseries: "1.7. 1862-1947." Folder 89

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.8. Undated.

About 75 items.

Three folders of undated material arranged loosely by recipient (many letters were written by more than one person). Most appear to be directed to Ellen Mordecai (1790-1884), but are difficult to separate from letters written to her niece Ellen of Raleigh.

Folder 90-91

Folder 90

Folder 91

Undated: To Ellen Mordecai #00847, Subseries: "1.8. Undated." Folder 90-91

Folder 92

Undated: To various family members #00847, Subseries: "1.8. Undated." Folder 92

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1649-1865.

About 30 items.

Arrangement: Divided between papers relating to Ellen Mordecai (1790-1884) and papers relating to other members of the Mordecai family.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.1. Ellen Mordecai Financial Papers, 1842-1847.

11 items.

Mostly accounts of the sales of Ellen's book The History of a Heart.

Folder 93

Ellen Mordecai financial papers #00847, Subseries: "2.1. Ellen Mordecai Financial Papers, 1842-1847." Folder 93

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.2. Miscellaneous Financial and Legal Papers, 1649-1865.

18 items.

A miscellany of deeds; land grants; ships' registry certificates; accounts (primarily between Jacob Mordecai and his son Samuel); purchase agreement for the ship Alliance; division of slaves, 1853, belonging to Samuel Simpson of Craven County, North Carolina; and an agreement to form the Lockville Mining Company, ca. 1865. Included in this are a few Lane family items that may have had to do with the marriage of Moses Mordecai to Margaret Lane of Raleigh.

Folder 94

Miscellaneous financial and legal papers #00847, Subseries: "2.2. Miscellaneous Financial and Legal Papers, 1649-1865." Folder 94

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Writings.

About 40 items.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.1. Diaries and Travel Accounts, 1815-1865.

19 items.

Account of Samuel's travels from New York to New Orleans, 1815, and diaries of Ellen and Emma Mordecai. Ellen's diary for 1819-1820 is essentially a long letter to her brother Solomon while he was studying medicine in Philadelphia. Emma's 1864-1865 diary was written in retrospect from notes and letters of the time period.

Folder 95

Samuel Mordecai travel diary, March-June 1815, 26 pages #00847, Subseries: "3.1. Diaries and Travel Accounts, 1815-1865." Folder 95

Folder 96

Ellen Mordecai personal journal, October 1817-August 1819, 74 pages #00847, Subseries: "3.1. Diaries and Travel Accounts, 1815-1865." Folder 96

Folder 97

Loose pages from volume in folder 96. #00847, Subseries: "3.1. Diaries and Travel Accounts, 1815-1865." Folder 97

Included are a letter from Caroline Mordecai to Moses Mordecai concerning the family's negative reaction to his intention to marry a Gentile; and a note, undated, concerning Rachel's correspondence with novelist Maria Edgeworth.

Folder 98

Ellen Mordecai personal journal, October 1819-September 1920, 46 pages #00847, Subseries: "3.1. Diaries and Travel Accounts, 1815-1865." Folder 98

Folder 99

Loose materials from volume in folder 98. #00847, Subseries: "3.1. Diaries and Travel Accounts, 1815-1865." Folder 99

Included are an undated letter requesting that Rachel Mordecai's name not be used in connection with Maria Edgeworth; a letter, 1839, from Ellen to Rachel on the anniversary of Rachel's death; and a newspaper announcement of the marriage of Solomon Mordecai and Caroline Waller, 1824.

Folder 100

Emma Mordecai diary, January-August 1838, 50 pages #00847, Subseries: "3.1. Diaries and Travel Accounts, 1815-1865." Folder 100

Folder 101

Diary fragments, 1842, 40 pages #00847, Subseries: "3.1. Diaries and Travel Accounts, 1815-1865." Folder 101

Folder 102

Ellen Mordecai diary, 1847, 20 pages #00847, Subseries: "3.1. Diaries and Travel Accounts, 1815-1865." Folder 102

Included is a brief noted in a Virginia and North Carolina almanac for 1847.

Folder 103

Emma Mordecai diary, 1864-1865, 115 pages #00847, Subseries: "3.1. Diaries and Travel Accounts, 1815-1865." Folder 103

Folder 104

Typescript of diary in folder 103 #00847, Subseries: "3.1. Diaries and Travel Accounts, 1815-1865." Folder 104

Folder 105

Diary fragments, undated, 15 pages #00847, Subseries: "3.1. Diaries and Travel Accounts, 1815-1865." Folder 105

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.2. Other Writings.

About 20 items.

Poetry and prose, most apparently original, of various members of the Mordecai family. Included are an account in letter form by Jacob Mordecai of his first wife, Judith; manuscript versions of Ellen Mordecai's The History of a Heart and Fading Scenes Remembered, as well as an unpublished work, "Alicia Warburton, or the Tried Heart," the story of a man and woman who marry against her father's wishes only to find out afterwards that they are brother and sister; the story of a doll, "Josephine," by Rosa Mordecai (daughter of Alfred) that describes childhood in antebellum Washington, D.C.; an essay by Rachel Mordecai Lazarus on coquetry; and "A Discourse in the Synagogue in the City of Richmond, January 1, 1812, in consequence of the loss of life occasioned by the burning of the Theatre on 26 December 1811," by Samuel Mordecai.

Folder 106

Jacob Mordecai letter, 1796, 25 pages #00847, Subseries: "3.2. Other Writings." Folder 106

Letter describes his wife, Judith (Myers) Mordecai

Folder 107

Ellen Mordecai's, History of a Heart, undated, 17 pages #00847, Subseries: "3.2. Other Writings." Folder 107

Folder 108

Ellen Mordecai's, Fading Scenes Recalled, undated, 130 pages #00847, Subseries: "3.2. Other Writings." Folder 108

Part 1

Folder 109a

Ellen Mordecai's, Fading Scenes Recalled, undated, 130 pages #00847, Subseries: "3.2. Other Writings." Folder 109a

Part 2

Folder 109b

Fading Scenes Recalled, undated #00847, Subseries: "3.2. Other Writings." Folder 109b

Typed copy

Folder 110

Esther Whitlock (pseudonym of Ellen Mordecai), "Alicia Warburton, or the Tried Heart," undated, 18 pages #00847, Subseries: "3.2. Other Writings." Folder 110

Folder 111

Attributed to Rosa Mordecai (daughter of Alfred), "Josephine," undated, 18 pages #00847, Subseries: "3.2. Other Writings." Folder 111

Manuscript and typescript

Folder 112

Other writings, undated #00847, Subseries: "3.2. Other Writings." Folder 112

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Other Papers, 1802-1947.

About 70 items.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 4.1. Mordecai School Papers, 1802-1819.

33 items.

Insurance papers, advertisements for the school, lists of students, financial accounts, accounts of the burning of the school building in 1811, and a geography copybook.

Folder 113

Mordecai school miscellaneous papers #00847, Subseries: "4.1. Mordecai School Papers, 1802-1819." Folder 113

Folder 114

Copybook, undated, 40 pages #00847, Subseries: "4.1. Mordecai School Papers, 1802-1819." Folder 114

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 4.2. Miscellaneous Papers, 1811-1947.

16 items.

Printed invitations and announcements; obituaries; broadside announcing a performance of The Belle's Stratagem; crayon drawing used to illustrate The History of the Heart; and the commission of Thomas D. Hogg to serve as a delegate to the national Nicaraguan Canal Convention, 1892.

Folder 115

Miscellaneous papers #00847, Subseries: "4.2. Miscellaneous Papers, 1811-1947." Folder 115

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 4.3. Scrapbook, 1880s.

21 items.

Collection of newpaper clippings pasted in an old music book. Subjects include manners and customs, household hints, clothing styles, and Confederate history.

Folder 116

Loose items from volume in folder 117. #00847, Subseries: "4.3. Scrapbook, 1880s." Folder 116

Primarily invitations.

Folder 117

Scrapbook, undated, 117 pages #00847, Subseries: "4.3. Scrapbook, 1880s." Folder 117

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Additions.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Addition of January 2007: Letters and Other Papers, 1798-1896 and undated.

50 items.

Letters written to and by Mordecai family members, 1798-1896 and undated, as well as reminiscences, song lyrics, and fragments. Letters are chiefly to Ellen Mordecai of Raleigh, N.C., but there are also other family members represented in correspondence, including Emma Mordecai, Eliza Mordecai, Jacob Mordecai, and Rachel Mordecai Lazarus. Some letters were later annotated by Martha Mordecai.

Of particular interest is Irish novelist Maria Edgeworth's 1816 response letter to Rachel Mordecai Lazarus and a letter from Maria's father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth, to Rachel. The Mordecais were interested both in the Edgeworths' approach to education and Maria Edgeworth's unflattering treatment of Jews in at least one of her novels. See also Addition of April 2011.

Folder 118

Correspondence, 1798-1896 #00847, Subseries: "Addition of January 2007: Letters and Other Papers, 1798-1896 and undated." Folder 118

Folder 119

Correspondence, undated #00847, Subseries: "Addition of January 2007: Letters and Other Papers, 1798-1896 and undated." Folder 119

Folder 120

Reminiscences, Song Lyrics, and Fragments #00847, Subseries: "Addition of January 2007: Letters and Other Papers, 1798-1896 and undated." Folder 120

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Addition of September 2007: Letters and Poem, 1865-1945 and undated.

17 items.

Letters written to and by Mordecai family members, 1865 and 1916-1917, and one poem dated 1945. Correspondence includes letters to Emma Mordecai, 1865; letters from Rosa Mordecai to Samuel Mordecai, 1916-1917; two 1917 condolence telegrams to Samuel Mordecai, then professor at Trinity College, Durham, N.C.; and other family letters.

Folder 121

Correspondence, 1865, 1916-1917, and 1945 #00847, Subseries: "Addition of September 2007: Letters and Poem, 1865-1945 and undated." Folder 121

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Addition of December 2007: A Memoir of Maria Edgeworth with a Selection from Her Letters by the late Mrs. Edgeworth, 1867-1868.

3 items.

Three volumes of the unpublished memoir of Maria Edgeworth entitled "A Memoir of Maria Edgeworth with a Selection from Her Letters by the late Mrs. Edgeworth." Printed by Joseph Masters and Son in 1867, the volumes are marked "Not Published" and their circulation was carefully limited by Maria Edgeworth's family. All three volumes bear the inscription "Ellen Mordecai from the Editors."

Each volume contains a tipped-in letter entitled "Extract of a letter from Mrs. Butler dated from the Observatory, Arnaugh, Ireland, 25 June 1868 and 9 December 1867." Presumably the letters were written by Ellen Mordecai, copying portions of letters sent by Maria Edgeworth's sister Harriet (Mrs. Butler) to the Mordecais. These additions express the desire that Maria's letters and memoir remain unpublished. Also included in volume 1 are a tipped-in sheet listing Maria Edgeworth's brothers and sisters and a poem entitled "From Maria Edgeworth to Marx Edgeworth Lazarus." Marx Edgeworth Lazarus was the son of Rachel Mordecai Lazarus.

Folder 122-124

Folder 122

Folder 123

Folder 124

"A Memoir of Maria Edgeworth with a Selection from Her Letters by the late Mrs. Edgeworth," volumes 1-3 #00847, Subseries: "Addition of December 2007: A Memoir of Maria Edgeworth with a Selection from Her Letters by the late Mrs. Edgeworth, 1867-1868." Folder 122-124

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Addition of April 2011: Rachel Mordecai Lazarus Correspondence with Maria Edgeworth and Richard Lovell Edgeworth, 1815-1907.

16 items.

The Addition of April 2011 includes a volume of typewritten copies of correspondence between Rachel Mordecai Lazarus and Maria Edgeworth from 1815 to 1838, with one 1816 letter to Lazarus from Edgeworth's father, Richard Lovell Edgeworth. The first entry is a copy of the 1815 letter written to Maria Edgeworth by Rachel Mordecai Lazarus, in which Lazarus questioned Edgeworth's treatment of Jewish characters in earlier works (see the Addition of January 2007). In a September 1823 letter, Maria Edgeworth described her friendship with Sir Walter Scott. There are also several letters, from November and December 1831, that reference the Southampton, Va., slave insurrection led by Nat Turner.

The addition also includes correspondence between Maria Edgeworth and Rachel Mordecai Lazarus and Alfred Mordecai following Rachel Mordecai Lazarus's death in 1838. There is also a sketch of Edgeworthstown, Maria Edgeworth's residence in Ireland; a lithograph of Richard Lovell Edgeworth; and two 1907 letters between Rosa Mordecai and Civil War author Morris Schaff.

Folder 125

"Correspondence of Maria Edgeworth with Rachel Lazarus (nee Mordecai)": Typscript volume, 1815-1838 #00847, Subseries: "Addition of April 2011: Rachel Mordecai Lazarus Correspondence with Maria Edgeworth and Richard Lovell Edgeworth, 1815-1907." Folder 125

Folder 126

Correspondence and related materials, 1816-1907 #00847, Subseries: "Addition of April 2011: Rachel Mordecai Lazarus Correspondence with Maria Edgeworth and Richard Lovell Edgeworth, 1815-1907." Folder 126

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Addition of May 2012: Ellen Mordecai Account Book, 1846.

1 item.

The Addition of May 2012 contains a small handmade account book with manuscript entries, presumably made by Ellen Mordecai. The account book was laid in a published copy of History of a Heart, written by Ellen Mordecai and published in 1845. It is made up of eight pages, five with handwriting, plus paper wrappers, and is labeled on the cover, "Charity book 1846." Entries document contributions to charities and for religious purposes from the proceeds of sales of History of a Heart. Among the entries are contributions to poor women and children, a Jewish missionary, an orphan asylum, and repairs to an old church. (See also Subseries 2.1 and 3.2.)

Folder 127

Ellen Mordecai account book, 1846 #00847, Subseries: "Addition of May 2012: Ellen Mordecai Account Book, 1846." Folder 127

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

Oversized Papers (OP-847/1-7)

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Processing Information

Processed by: L. Eileen Parris, April 1990; Suzanne Ruffing, February 1996; Amanda Ross, February 2008; Martin Gengenbach, July 2011; and Armando Suarez, June 2012.

Encoded by: Devon Lee, February 2006

Genealogical charts available upon request from the control file.

This collection was processed with support from the Randleigh Foundation Trust.

Additions received after 1979 have not been integrated into the original deposits. Researchers should always check additions to be sure they have identified all files of interest to them.

Finding aid updated in February 2008 by Amanda Ross because of addition.

Finding aid updated in July 2011 by Martin Gengenbach because of addition.

Finding aid updated in September 2011 by Nancy Kaiser because of edits to the finding aid.

Finding aid updated in June 2012 by Armando Suarez because of addition.

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