Grant Family Papers:

Correspondence of Zilpah P. Grant Banister, 1839, 1852-1874

Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College

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Provenance: The Grant Family Papers were a gift of Mary R. Wallace, a descendent of the Grant family, in 1959.
Extent: 1.5 linear ft.
Digitized portion: 1 inch (3 folders, ca. 77 items)

Scope and Content:

The Grant Family Papers consist of letters, financial and legal records, photographs, clippings, and other papers of the Elijah Grant family of Millbrook, Conn.

The digitized portion of this collection consists of selected genealogical materials followed by a series of letters of Zilpah Grant Banister (1794-1874) to and from various family members, 1846-1874. Principal correspondents are two of Mrs. Banister's nephews, John Grant (1822-1878), a teacher first at Yale and later at his own private school, and Marcus Grant (b. 1827) on the family homestead farm. All the letters were written after Zilpah Grant Banister's retirement (in 1839) as a teacher at Ipswich Female Seminary, which she had organized and at which she had worked closely with Mary Lyon, and her subsequent marriage and residence in Newburyport, Mass. References are made in the letters to Mrs. Hale and her family (no further identification), Daniel Genny of Oxford, Ohio (influential in the development of Western Female Seminary), to the sons of Joseph Cowles at Oberlin, and to her friend Miss Lyman at Vassar College. John Grant's letters to his aunt seek her counsel as a former teacher and school principal.

Related Collection

Zilpah P. Grant Banister Papers, Mount Holyoke College (available online)

Biographical Note

Zilpah Polly Grant Banister was born on May 30, 1794 in Norfolk, Connecticut. In 1820 she enrolled in the Byfield Female Seminary in Masachusetts under Reverend Joseph Emerson. She then taught at various schools around Norfolk until she began organizing the Adams Female Academy in Londonderry, New Hampshire, which opened in 1824. Here she worked as principal with Mary Lyon as her assistant. In 1828 she received an invitation to organize a school in Ipswich, Massachusetts. She remained at Ipswich Female Seminary until her retirement in 1839. On September 7, 1841, Grant married William B. Banister and moved with him to Newburyport, Massachusetts. She continued to promote women's education, and published a pamphlet entitled Hints on Education in 1856. Zilpah P. Grant Banister died on December 3, 1874 in Newburyport.

Further reading:

  • Guilford, L. T. (Linda Thayer). The Use of a Life : Memorials of Mrs. Z. P. Grant Banister. New York : American Tract Society, 1885.
  • Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary. Edwart T. James, ed. Harvard University Press, 1971. Biographical sketch prepared by Sydney R. McLean.

Folder Summary & Access to Digitized Collection

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Folder 2: Biographical and genealogical material (selections)
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Folder 9: Zilpah P. Grant Banister: Letters to family, 1839/1852-1874
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Folder 23: John Grant: Letters to Zilpah P. Grant Banister, 1844-1852
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Folder 24: John Grant: Letters to Zilpah P. Grant Banister, 1853-1858

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