The Amherst College Archives and Special Collections has acquired a letter dated March 1850 written by Abby Wood of Amherst, Massachusetts, a close friend of Emily Dickinson’s, to Abiah Root, a mutual friend who lived in West Springfield.  Abby’s letter is a testament of faith, a rare and intense recollection of the experience of personal salvation during the 1850 religious revival. At the time such an experience was required before one could join the Congregational Church, the predominant church in the Amherst area.  Abby joined the church a few months later.

The June 2009 issue of the New England Quarterly features Emily Dickinson scholar Polly Longsworth’s article “‘And Do Not Forget Emily’: Confidante Abby Wood on Dickinson’s Lonely Religious Rebellion.”  The article includes a transcription of the full letter.  The New England Quarterly is widely available in libraries, and some libraries will have online subscriptions as well.  Offprints are available from: www.sheridan.com/MITpress/eoc.

There is also an article about the letter in the 2008-2009 issue of the Newsletter of the Friends of the Amherst College Library.

The letter was purchased by former Amherst College Librarian Sherre Harrington with the May H. & Albert M. Morris ’13 Fund, a fund exclusively dedicated to “promulgation of the works of Emily Dickinson,” along with some private, anonymous support. 

The original letter may be viewed at any time during regular hours in the Archives and Special Collections.


Abby Wood to Abiah Root -1

Abby Wood to Abiah Root -  pages 1 and 5


Abby Wood to Abiah Root - 2

Abby Wood to Abiah Root - page 2


Abby Wood to Abiah Root - 3

Abby Wood to Abiah Root - page 3


Abby Wood to Abiah Root - 4

Abby Wood to Abiah Root - page 4