Anna E. Dickinson Papers

In 1863, Anna Elizabeth Dickinson toured the country on behalf of Republican Party candidates. After the Civil War she continued public speaking, drawing large crowds and earning huge speaking fees. She was among the celebrities who were aboard the first transcontinental railroad trip to California and also grabbed headlines when she climbed Pike’s Peak and other summits. Her familiarity with the stage later led to a less successful career as an actress and playwright. Dickinson had a close relationship with Susan B. Anthony and shared her interest in women's rights and temperance. She corresponded with escaped slave and abolitionist orator Frederick Douglass and other notable figures of her time. The Library of Congress collection of her correspondence includes many of the letters she wrote to Mary Dickinson, her mother, and Susan Dickinson, her journalist sister, while on national lecture tours. The letters describe her travels and inner world, including reactions to the poor reception of her plays and performances. In 1891 her sister committed her against her will to the State Hospital for the Insane in Danville, Pennsylvania. Anna later successfully sued those who had had her committed and the newspapers that covered the story, for kidnapping and libel. She fell out with her sister and many friends over these allegations and her treatment.