Home Indexes Date and Location Index 1800-1849: Boston Area Matilda Oliver Collection
Matilda Oliver Collection
Catalog Record
Mss 8995 1833-1885 O48
Volumes 1-4

Matilda Oliver and her sister Eliza both worked as teachers in Boston, Massachusetts, between 1833 and 1885. This four-volume collection documents their personal expenses and their income from teaching. Both Matilda and Eliza supplemented their income by doing small knitting and sewing projects. From the 1860s, the accounts suggest that neither of them were working in schools any longer, but that they were sewing and knitting full time.

The first and largest volume (from 1833 to 1845) details the personal expenses of Matilda Oliver. Her purchases included stationery, haircuts, combs, furniture, concerts, lectures, books at the Lyceum, transportation, charitable contributions, board, and rent. In addition to her personal expenses, Matilda recorded her purchases for her students and schoolroom. The last pages of the volume record her quarterly salary for teaching as well as her income during the years that she did not teach. The first part of the account book is kept as a day book, recording all her expenses together, in chronological order. After 1836 she began categorizing them into "personal expenses," "family expenses," "clothing," "charitable contributions," "books and stationery," "primary school expenses," and "board and rent." At the beginning of some of the categories, she included appropriate quotations, such as one advocating modest apparel.

Volume two (from 1848 to 1851) is an account book kept by Eliza A. Oliver, also a teacher. Her personal expenses included travel, toothbrushes, combs, sewing supplies, and fabric. She also recorded her rent for a schoolroom and the purchase of a "French Gramaire" as well as tuition payment from students. Although it is not clear what she taught, Eliza's accounts seem to represent a different type of teaching venture from that of Matilda. While Matilda was paid a salary to work in a school, Eliza seems to have rented out a schoolroom and was paid by the students individually.

A third volume (from 1856 to 1869) appears to be in Eliza's hand. It details payments and expenses for knitting. She lists items knitted (including socks, mittens, and bands) and the amount of money received for each one. The book also records inventories of yarn and knitted items on hand, as well as yarn expenses.

The fourth volume (from 1867 to 1887) in the collection is in Matilda's hand. It lists expenditures for yarn as well as income from selling yarn and knitted items. In 1868, she, too, began including receipts for small sewing projects such as nightdresses, buttonholes, embroidery, and children's clothing. Some entries record payments made to Eliza for knitting.

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