ABSTRACT

The Sharp Family Letters are an extensive collection covering a large part of the century, and which continue in Volume 2 of this collection. (For convenience, they are introduced together here.) Most were written by Edward C. Sharp, who was bookish, cultured and emigrated through a society. Details about Sharp’s father (who lost his fishing boat by gambling in Hastings) are fascinating reminders of the wide variety of backgrounds to emigration stories. One letter is from Sharp in Liverpool waiting to sail. Some letters were written by a brother serving in the navy and stationed in various places (including Athens, Malta and New Zealand) and were sent to Sharp before and after his migration to Madison, Wisconsin, around 1850. Another is from Tenterden, in Kent. In Wisconsin, Sharp writes of the difficulty of finding work, the sermons he hears, African-Americans coming to Christ, and many references to scripture. The letters from his brother show the extent of their correspondence. In the letter of 24 April 1846, his brother asks help for his military discharge, as he fell into trouble in Malta and wants to join Edward – another interesting background to emigration that was not all that uncommon. Throughout, references to economic conditions in England and Wisconsin add much valuable information. By early 1852 his brother was in Boston, Massachusetts, asking Edward for money. Later letters include one from a Welsh puddler, who was apparently not very literate, and who asks for help to join the Sharp family in Wisconsin.