Charlotte A. Myers collection
The collection consists of materials relating to Charlotte A. Myers, her adopted daughter Caroline Griswold, and Caroline Griswold’s nieces and nephews from the Hartley family. Materials relating to Myers contain correspondence and a newspaper clipping about her divorce from Rufus Wilmot Griswold, including letters from her lawyers Samuel Sherman and David Paul Brown, and letters to her husband’s former brother-in-law Hamilton Randolph Searles. There is also a daguerreotype portrait of Myers, a poem by her aunt, Hesse Myers, and a commonplace book containing paper cuts, art prints and newspaper clippings about the Civil War and military history, poems and short stories. Materials relating to Caroline Griswold include letters from Caroline to Searles, and letters from her father to Searles about her custody. There is also a daguerreotype portrait and a pencil sketch portrait of her, and assorted writings by her, including a poem and fiction stories published in Southern Field and Fireside under the pseudonym Carrie. Hartley family correspondence contains letters between members of the Hartley family about Rufus Griswold and Charlotte Myers. There are also letters between members of the Hartley family and Joy Bayless, author of the biography Rufus Wilmot Griswold.
Language of Material
Materials in English
This collection is open for research.
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Charlotte A. Myers was born to Moses Myers (1772-1821) and Anna Polock (1782-1803) in Georgetown, South Carolina, in 1802. Later in life Myers moved to Charleston, South Carolina, where she lived with her aunts, Hesse Myers (d. 1876) and Sarah Myers (d. circa 1864). In 1844 while spending the summer in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with her aunts, she met widower Rufus Wilmot Griswold (1815-1857), a literary critic, editor, and poet. After corresponding for a year, the couple married on August 20, 1845. She would keep the surname Griswold for the rest of her life. They lived together in Charleston for a year with Caroline Griswold (1842-1874), Griswold’s younger daughter from his first marriage to Caroline Searles (1817-1842). Myers and Griswold separated in 1846 with the condition that Caroline remain in Myers’ care. In his divorce statement published in 1856, Griswold stated that their marriage was as invalid as any that had “taken place between parties of the same sex, or where the sex of one was doubtful or ambiguous.” Myers, Caroline Griswold, Hesse Myers, and Sarah Myers continued to live together in Charleston. Griswold applied for divorce in Philadelphia on March 25, 1852. Myers filed for a repeal of the divorce in Philadelphia on September 23, 1853. The divorce appeal went to court on February 24, 1856, but was dismissed. Myers was supported in the trial by Hamilton Randolph Searles, the brother of Griswold’s first wife. As an adult Caroline worked as an author and schoolteacher. In 1873 Caroline’s book Who Won the Prize?, or, Helen Tracy was published under the name M. Caroline Griswold. Caroline died the next year. Myers died in 1891 in Charleston.
Rufus Wilmot Griswold’s elder daughter, Emily Griswold (1838-1906), married Benjamin Hartley (1837-1912). They had three children, Kenneth Wakeman Hartley, Randolph Hartley (1870-1931), and Caroline Hartley. The Hartley family kept in contact with Myers and Caroline Griswold, and later corresponded with Joy Bayless, author of the biography Rufus Wilmot Griswold.
0.7 linear feet (1 slim document box, 1 object box, 2 oversize paper folders)
The collection contains correspondence and newspaper clippings relating to Charlotte A. Myers’ divorce from literary critic and poet Rufus Wilmot Griswold. Materials also relate to Caroline Griswold, a writer and Griswold’s daughter from his first marriage, who was raised by Myers. There are also daguerreotype portraits of Myers and Caroline Griswold and a commonplace book assembled by Myers. The papers also cover correspondence between Griswold’s grandchildren and Joy Bayless, author of the biography Rufus Wilmot Griswold.
- Charlotte A. Myers, 1818-1891
- Caroline Griswold, 1846-1864
- Hartley family correspondence, 1898-1943
Materials purchased in 2016 by the College of Charleston.
The book Passages from the Correspondence and Other Papers of Rufus W. Griswold (1898) was removed from the collection and catalogued separately.
Processed by Rebecca Thayer, November 2019.
- Inventory of the Charlotte A. Myers Collection, 1818-1943
- Processed by: Rebecca Thayer; finding aid created by: Rebecca Thayer
- Description rules
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Funding from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation supported the processing of this collection and the creation of this finding aid.