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This text is a study of literacy based upon a set of correspondence, the Osborne Family Papers, 18121968, housed in the Special Collections Research Center of Syracuse University. A collection of some 358 boxes, it is particularly well suited for a study on literacy. In addition to the voluminous public and private correspondence of prison reformer Thomas Mott Osborne (18591926), a vast and rich store of the family’s literacy "works" have been carefully preserved. In addition to hundreds of letters, many between and among the women of the family, it also abounds with other literacy documents of interest such as ledgers, account books, travelogues, verse, diaries, and notes. Unusually and quite valuably, even scraps of children’s writing have been preserved, making possible studies regarding emergent literacy practices of the times.

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