Browse Exhibits (7 total)


Miss Porter's School Ford Library Archives Collection Guide.pdf

About our collections

The digital archive of Miss Porter's School includes four collections of items dating mostly from the 1840s to 1930s.  The collections were created in 2018 and include text and photographic works from the school's physical collection.

The Sarah Porter Collection includes primary documents from the 1800s written by Sarah Porter, Porter family history and genealogy, photographs of Sarah and family members, and fundraising reports and appeals by members of the school community following Sarah's death in 1900. This collection includes several documents related to the construction of Sarah Porter Memorial Hall in Farmington.

The Rules and Daily School Life Collection emphasizes pre-1900 text documents related to school fees, rules for students, and annual dates of operation. The collection is ordered according to the year of each document. One notable item is Sarah Porter's handwritten rule book from the 1850s in which she outlined expectations for student behavior. The collection includes many documents of economic interest, outlining fees and costs of common goods & services between 1850-1900.

Sarah Abroad: 1872 Letters from Europe includes correspondence written by Sarah Porter (primarily addressed to her mother and sisters in Farmington, Connecticut). In the summer of 1872, Sarah and her brother Samuel Porter traveled by steamship across the Atlantic and visited locations throughout the U.K., Belgium, and France. Sarah's letters home include mention of European and American political figures active in the second half of the 1800s as well as descriptions of attractions and landmarks in Europe.

Letters from Notable People includes samples of autographs and correspondence collected by or donated to the school. The digital collection represents approximately 30% of the physical collection. Included are numerous letters addressed to Sarah Porter's brother Noah Porter and Abraham Lincoln's autograph from 1861. Featured items - which appear at the front of the collection - emphasize correspondence or works sent or collected from notable women in the late 1800s. These works include letters from Julia Ward Howe, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps, Kate Tryon, Mary A. Ward, Kate Douglas Wiggins, and former First Lady Lucretia Garfield, as well as a photograph of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Also included are several items from male American politicians, scientists, theologians, and writers (Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes, James A. Garfield, Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover; Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes; scientists Louis Agassiz and Alexander Graham Bell; theologians Lyman Abbott and Henry Ward Beecher.

About our site

Use the menu above to navigate to our Exhibits, Browse Collections, or Browse Items.

Please note that the physical archives are closed and access to the items included in the digital archive is limited. However, we are always happy to hear from you regarding any of the items displayed here. Please use the Contact Us form to be in touch!

Simply Sarah


Sarah Porter's lifetime (1813-1900) coincided with the birth of photography and rapid advances in its availability to the general population.  The Sarah Porter Collection includes several photographs of Sarah and her school, mostly from the 1870s & 1880s.  This exhibit features images of Sarah taken by a number of different photographers in Farmington, Hartford, and New York City.  Photographs in the physical collection include several in the popular carte de viste format popular in the 1860s as well as an oval developed on Kodak paper in the 1880s, more than a decade before Kodak cameras would became a household name.

Click on an image to find more details about it.

Sum Totals

SP0069MPS (1).pdf

Several documents in the Rules and Daily School Life and Sarah Porter collections are useful for learning about the costs of goods and services in the 1800s or understanding women's fundraising initiatives and organization.

To explore other documents that have economic interest, you can search Items in the collections using keyword tags (i.e., "economics"). When you find a tag of interest, clicking on the number in the tag will lead you to items with that tag. 

The Sarah Porter Memorial Building


Following Sarah Porter's death in 1900, alumnae of her school raised money to build a memorial in her honor. The Sarah Porter Memorial Building is located next to the First Church of Christ Congregational, across the street from the school. In 1913, one hundred years after Sarah's birth, alumnae again raised money in her memory. The Centenary campaign funds went to ensure maintenance of the existing memorial building.

This exhibit includes documents and photos related to the fundraising, construction, and dedication of the building between 1900-1913.

Presidentially Yours, Truly


The Letters from Notable People collection includes correspondence from several American presidents.

Most notable is this 1860 signed note from Abraham Lincoln, kept in Sarah Porter's autograph book.  A bonus is the autograph below Lincoln's, from soon-to-be Attorney General Edward Bates.

Other Presidents represented in the collection include James A. Garfield, Rutherford B. Hayes, Theodore Roosevelt, and Herbert Hoover. 

Getting There Was Half the Fun


In 1872, Sarah Porter traveled to Europe with her brother Samuel. The Sarah Abroad collection includes the letters she wrote home to her mother and sisters.  The four letters showcased here detail her journey across the Atlantic on board the Steamship Algeria. In them Sarah describes seasickness, her shipmates, and - 40 years before the Titanic - the perils of icebergs in the fog.


SP0009MPS1 (1).pdf

Every archive has 'em: discoveries that make you do a double take. Our digital archive is no exception. Check out these 'bloopers' found in the digital archives and please let us know if you find any new ones!