Lamb, Martha J. (Martha Joanna), 1829-1893

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American historian, author, owner and editor of Magazine of American History.

From the description of Martha J. Lamb letters [manuscript], 1887-1892. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 212376748

Historian, author, and magazine editor, New York City.

From the description of Letterbooks, 1884-1895. (New York University, Group Batchload). WorldCat record id: 58670246

From the description of Papers, 1756-1892 (bulk 1876-1892). (New York University). WorldCat record id: 476970616

From the description of Papers, 1882-1883. (New York University, Group Batchload). WorldCat record id: 58758410

Martha J. Nash was born in Plainfield, Massachusetts on 13 August 1826, the third of the four children of Arvin Nash and Lucinda Vinton. Her mother died when Martha was a child and her father remarried and with his second wife had two more children. Martha Nash was educated at several schools in Massachusetts: in Goshen, at the Williston Seminary in Easthampton (1844-45), and at the Northampton High School. She did especially well in mathematics and taught that subject at schools in Newark, New Jersey and Maumee, Ohio.

On 8 September 1852 she married Charles A. Lamb in Maumee. He was a mechanic who had two daughters from an earlier marriage. The Lambs moved to Chicago in 1857 and Martha became involved in charity work. She was a founder of the Home for the Friendless and the Half-Orphan Asylum. In 1863 she served as secretary of Chicago's first Sanitary Fair, held to raise money for soldiers' relief.

Martha Lamb, n.d.

Shortly after the Civil War, Martha Lamb's marriage ended in divorce and it became necessary for her to support herself financially. She moved to New York City after 1866 and acted upon her belief that a woman "with any brains or any sort of intellectual capacity" should work at a significant occupation. She decided to follow her literary aspirations (first manifested in 1847 when she published an article in her local newspaper, The Daily Hampshire Gazette, Northampton, Massachusetts) and published a series of children's stories in 1869 and 1870. In the 1870s she also wrote Spicy, a romance novel featuring the Sanitary Fair and the Chicago Fire; several Christmas annuals; and articles on a wide array of subjects for Harper's and other periodicals. She also edited The Homes of America . In the course of this writing she realized writing history was her true calling and she began extensive research for History of the City of New York: Its Origin, Rise, and Progress . The first volume on the colonial period was published in 1877; the second volume appeared in 1880. Although she was not trained as a professional historian and favored a narrative rather than analytical approach, her work was praised by the renowned contemporary historian, George Bancroft. In 1883, Lamb purchased the Magazine of American History, a financially struggling monthly founded in 1877. She devoted herself to editing the magazine for the last decade of her life, producing over fifty signed articles and more that were unsigned. She also published articles by others, original documents, book reviews, and other standard components of a professional historical journal at a time when there was little precedent for such an endeavor. The magazine ceased publication shortly after her death in 1893.

Lamb was a fixture in New York social circles; she had connections with many of the old families she chronicled in her historical writings. She also belonged to numerous historical and patriotic societies. She was twice invited to the White House: President Grover Cleveland gave a dinner in her honor in 1886; in 1889 President Benjamin Harrison recognized her contributions to the centennial celebration of Washington's inauguration with an invitation.

Martha Lamb died of pneumonia in January 1893. Her funeral service was held at the Madison Square Presbyterian Church and she was buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Florence, Massachusetts.

From the guide to the Martha J. Lamb Papers MS 88., 1838-1969, 1862-1893, (Sophia Smith Collection)

Author; Historian; Editor.

Born Martha J. Nash, Plainfield, MA, 1826; reared in Goshen, MA; attended Williston Seminary and Northampton High School, 1840s; taught mathematics in Newark, NJ, and Maumee, OH; married Charles A. Lamb, 1852 (separated or divorced, circa 1865); moved to Chicago, 1857. Founder of Home for the Friendless (1858) and Half-Orphan Asylum in Chicago; secretary of Chicago's first Sanitary Fair for soldier relief during the Civil War. Moved to New York City and became writer, publishing children's stories, romantic novels, articles, and two-volume History of the City of New York, published 1877 and 1880; purchased and became editor of Magazine of American History, 1833. Believed strongly in the "elevation of her sex." Member of numerous historic and patriotic societies in NYC; given White House dinner in her honor by President Grover Cleveland, 1886; in 1889, President Benjamin Harrison honored her efforts for centennial celebration of Washington's inauguration.

From the description of Papers, 1838-1969 (bulk 1862-1893). (Smith College). WorldCat record id: 49265355

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Alden, Henry Mills, 1836-1919. American and English literary and historical papers collected by Atcheson L. Hench [manuscript] 1782-1944. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Lamb, Martha J. (Martha Joanna), 1829-1893. Letterbooks, 1884-1895. New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Martha J. Lamb Papers, 1756-1892 (Bulk 1876-1892) @ 2011 New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Dorr, Julia C. R. (Julia Caroline Ripley), 1825-1913. Papers of 47 women authors, chiefly American [manuscript] 1847-1949, 1970. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Lamb, Martha J. (Martha Joanna), 1829-1893. [A collection of printed materials pertaining to Wall Street in New York City]. New-York Historical Society
creatorOf Lamb, Martha J. (Martha Joanna), 1829-1893. Papers, 1838-1969 (bulk 1862-1893). Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn Waite, Morrison R. (Morrison Remick), 1816-1888. Letters, 1871-1882. Harvard Law School Library, HLS Library
referencedIn Susan Elizabeth Lyman Papers MS 97., 1938-1976 Sophia Smith Collection
creatorOf Lamb, Martha J. (Martha Joanna), 1829-1893. Correspondence with Mr. Stedman, Nov. 23, 1882, Mr. Swinton, Aug. 5, 1881, "my dear sir," August 26, 1891, the Editors of St. Nicholas, [after 1883], and one photograph from an unidentified publication. University of Wisconsin - Madison, General Library System
creatorOf Shepard, Frederick Job, 1850-1934, collector. Frederick J. Shepard scrapbook of autographs, 1877-1934. Buffalo History Museum, Research Library
referencedIn Autograph File, L, 1641-1976. Houghton Library
creatorOf Lamb, Martha J. (Martha Joanna), 1829-1893. Martha J. Lamb letters [manuscript], 1887-1892. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Dwight, Theodore Frelinghuysen, 1846-1917. Theodore F. Dwight papers, 1660-1916. Library of Congress
referencedIn Weed, Thurlow, 1797-1882. Thurlow Weed papers, 1838-1891. New Jersey Historical Society Library
referencedIn SIA RU000026, Smithsonian Institution Office of the Secretary, Correspondence, 1863-1879 Smithsonian Institution Archives
creatorOf Martha J. Lamb Papers MS 88., 1838-1969, 1862-1893 Sophia Smith Collection
referencedIn Bradley, Joseph P., 1813-1892. Papers, 1836-1937. New Jersey Historical Society Library
referencedIn Cleveland, Henry Whitney, 1836-1907. Henry Whitney Cleveland : papers, 1863-1906. The Filson Historical Society
creatorOf Lamb, Martha J. (Martha Joanna), 1829-1893. Papers, 1756-1892 (bulk 1876-1892). Churchill County Museum
referencedIn Lyman, Susan Elizabeth. Papers, 1938-1976. Smith College, Neilson Library
referencedIn King, Horatio, 1811-1897. Correspondence, 1847-1897. Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Lamb, Martha J. (Martha Joanna), 1829-1893. Papers, 1882-1883. New-York Historical Society
referencedIn Goss, Elbridge Henry, 1830-1908. Correspondence, 1854-1908. Gadsden Public Library
referencedIn Oversize Manuscripts Collection, Bulk, 1648-1934, 1648-1998 © 2011 New-York Historical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Alcott, Louisa May, 1832-1888 person
correspondedWith Bradley, Joseph P., 1813-1892. person
associatedWith Cairns Collection of American Women Writers. corporateBody
associatedWith Cleveland, Henry Whitney, 1836-1907. person
associatedWith Dwight, Theodore Frelinghuysen, 1846-1917. person
associatedWith Goss, Elbridge Henry, 1830-1908. person
associatedWith Harper's Magazine corporateBody
correspondedWith Hayes, Rutherford Birchard, 1822-1893 person
correspondedWith Henry, Joseph, 1797-1878 person
associatedWith Huguenot Society of America. corporateBody
correspondedWith Jay, John, 1745-1829 person
associatedWith King, Horatio, 1811-1897. person
associatedWith Lamb family. family
associatedWith Lyman, Susan Elizabeth person
associatedWith Lyman, Susan Elizabeth. person
associatedWith Lyman, Susan Elizabeth. Lady historian, Martha J. Lamb, 1969- person
associatedWith Madison Square Presbyterian Church (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Madison Square Presbyterian Church (New York, N.Y.). Ladies' Association. corporateBody
associatedWith Madison Square Presbyterian Church (New York, N.Y.). Loan Relief Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Magazine of American History corporateBody
associatedWith New-York Historical Society corporateBody
associatedWith Reed family. family
correspondedWith Roosevelt, Theodore, 1831-1878 person
associatedWith Shepard, Frederick Job, 1850-1934, collector. person
associatedWith Singleton, Esther, d. 1930, person
associatedWith University of Wisconsin--Madison. Libraries. Dept. of Rare Books and Special Collections. corporateBody
associatedWith Van Pelt, Daniel, 1853-1900, person
associatedWith Waite, Morrison R. (Morrison Remick), 1816-1888. person
associatedWith Weed, Thurlow, 1797-1882. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Northampton (Mass.)
United States
Chicago (Ill.)
Goshen (Mass.)
United States
Northampton (Mass.)
Chicago (Ill.)
New York (State)--New York
New York (N.Y.)
Goshen (Mass.)
New York (State)--New York
New York (N.Y.)
New York (N.Y.)
New York (N.Y.)
New York (State)--New York
United States
Subject
Women authors, American--19th century
American literature--Women authors
Women authors, American--19th century--Sources
Scientific publications
Women in church work--Presbyterian Church
Scholarly periodicals--Editing
History--Periodicals
Charities
Associations, institutions, etc
Women editors--United States--History--19th century--Sources
Women journalists
Women historians--History--Sources
Women editors--History--19th century--Sources
Periodicals--Publishing
Women historians--United States--History--Sources
Church charities
Women editors
Children's literature--Authorship--19th century--Sources
Historiography--United States--19th century--Sources
Women publishers
Women periodical editors
Presbyterians
Occupation
Publisher
Editors
Historians
Function

Person

Birth 1829-08-13

Death 1893-01-02

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