Manuscript Group 415, Amanda M. Douglas (1831-1916) Author, Papers 1866-1916

February 2000


This collection was donated to the Society as a gift from Mrs. Frank A. Polkinghorn on March 29, 1958. Mrs. Polkinghorn is the daughter of Miss Douglas’s nephew, Robert S. Douglas.


Manuscript and printed stories, poetry, essays, magazine ar ticles, and a novel by Amanda M. Douglas; literary scrapbooks; manuscript poems of her sister, Annie Douglas Bell; patent and other material relating to Amanda Douglas’s invention of a “Mosquito Net Frame” to be used by travellers. Included are manuscripts of the novel “Larry”1 and of the following stories: “Between Two Days,” “Eunice Richmond’s Confirmation,” “Her Christmas Gift,” “Polly Dick,” “The Princess Amber and Her Three Tasks,” “The Shoes of Luck,” “The Soul of the Violin, “The Story of Two Princes,” “Told in the Parlor.” Amanda M. Douglas was a resident of Newark from 1853 until her death in 1916. She was an important member of the Ray Palmer Club — a women’s club with literary and educational interests (see MG 610) — and of the New Jersey Woman’s Press Club. Many of her novels and stories were intended for young readers.

Scope and Content Note:

This collection consists of two boxes of manuscripts and three scrapbooks (.66 linear feet–2 boxes).

None of the manuscript stories with the exception of “Larry”, written in 1883, are dated. The clippings of her published poetry and stories are also not dated. It is assumed that these were done early in her career since she went from stories and poetry to books and serials later on in her career.

Miss Douglas’s scrapbooks of clippings offer an interesting picture of subjects that interested 19th century readers. There are many articles on European history, cities, and royality, indicating the great respect many Americans had for European culture. The scrapbooks also contain many articles of historical interest dealing with old New York and Newark as well as sketches of various historic events.

Biographical Note:

Amanda Minnie Douglas (1831-1916), a long-time Newark resident was a well-known writer of typical late 19th century fiction and poetry. She was a prolific writer whose first book was published in 1866. From then until 1913 she published at least one book each year. She also developed a folding frame for mosquito netting for which she was awarded a patent on September 20, 1881.

She was born In New York City to John and Elizabeth (Horton) Douglas the family moved to Pouqhkeepsie where they lived on a farm for several years. Eventually they returned to New York City where they lived until 1850 when they moved to Newark. Amanda Douglas had two older brothers, Oscar, and Charles who was an Episcopal minister. She also had a younger sister Annie who suffered from heart problems.

Amanda Douglas was educated in literature in New York City and hoped to become an artist. She was about to begin studying designing and engraving at New York’s Cooper Institute when family financial problems surfaced. Amanda returned home to help her family She gave up art and began to write after returning home because it was something she could do without leaving home.

She began her career as a writer by writing stories and poetry for the weekly story paper  These papers were popular during the late 19th and early 20th century. They were filled with sentimental moralistic fiction, convential poetry, and historical sketches. Her early writing was for these papers and her work frequently appeared in papers such as the New York Ledger Ladies friend and Godey’s Magazine. She moved on to writing serials and full-length novels.

Miss Douglas was an influential member of Newark’s Ray Palmer Club which was the oldest women’s literature club in the area. She served on the executive board and frequently wrote papers that were presented at club meetings. The meetings of the Club followed a specific theme, with the papers and discussion reviving around that theme. Discussions ranged from Greek sculpture to scientific subjects, papers on Jane Austen and Thackeray written by Miss Douglas, the ever present servant problem, and society and immigration. The Ray Palmer Club Papers are also at the New Jersey Historical Society (MG 610), and complement the Amanda Douglas Collection.

Amanda cared for her sister Annie until her death in 1913. She then turned over her home to people who agreed to care for her until her death. She is listed in Newark records as a boarder in her own home from 1913 until her own death in 1916. Amanda Douglas died at her home on July 18, 1916 at eighty-five years of age. Her funeral was in St. James Episcopal Church in Newark and she is buried beside her sister in Mt. Pleasant Cemetery.

An examination of Amanda Douglas’s fiction reveals certain themes that are consistent with conventional late 19th century writing. A rather sentimental religiosity is noted throughout her work which was typical of writers of her time. Miss Douglas’s writing is centered on the home and the family and her view of women is compatible with that of most Americans of the time. Her stories portray the ideal woman as the cultured, beautiful, even-tempered model of young lives.


Polkingram, Frank A. “Biographical Sketch of Amanda Minnie Douglas.” (1831-1916) Newark, New Jersey. New Jersey Historical Society Newark New Jersey, p. I.

Roberts, Robert R. “Popular Culture and Public Taste,” In the Gilded Age. ed. H. Wayne Morgan (Syracuse, Syracuse University Press,  1963.) pp. 281-282.

Container List

Box 1 of 2 (Each file is a separate notebook, story or theme. Descriptions for the first two files have been lost.)

Folder 3– “Her Christmas Gift” two notebooks (ms) Young woman gives shelter to wrongfully accused young man on Christmas Eve.

Folder 4– 104 loose pages (ms) Young orphan boy travels West from New York City to find new home. Conflict between benefactor and long lost

uncle. Won $2000 from “Youth’s Companion as best piece of fiction in 1893.

Folder 5– Dick” One notebook (ms) Little girl out berry-picking discovers injured man lying on railroad tracks and saves his life.

Folder 6–“Princess Amber and her three tasks” four notebooks (ms) fairy tale beautiful princess betrothed to a prince and plotted against by the prince mother.

Folder 7– “Shoes of Luck” and “The Part They Played” two notebook (ms) Young woman’s brief encounter with young man on a train. She mistakenly

takes his box of jewels and leaves him her box of new shoes. Search follows with happy ending.

Folder 8–‘”The Soul of the Violin.” One notebook (ms) Young man must choose between shallow young woman and a life devoted to music. Encouraged to

pursue music by mysterious young woman in woods. Read at Ray Palmer Club meeting on April 9, 1900.

Folder 9– “The Story of Two Princess One notebook (ms) sad stories of sons of Napoleon I meant as lesson on envy for young boys.

Folder 10– “Iin the Parlor.” Three notebooks (ms) Young woman’s story of earlier life in domestic service prior to comfortable marriage.

Folder 11 — “Essays.” Five essays. Four in notebooks, one in loose pages (ms)

Titles: “Charlemagne.” “Jane Austen,” and “Thackeray.” read for the Ray Palmer Club on October 20, 1899. “Early English Literature,” and “The

Painters of Spain.”

Folder 12– Unidentified stories. Six notebooks (ms) Untitled, some incomplete segments of stories.

Folder 13– Untitled story. Four notebooks (ms) Biblical, historical, fiction of early Christians within context of Paul’s trial before King Agrippa.


Folder 14– Patents, pictures, directions for folding mosquito net frame. Patent received September 20, 1881. Also three ms sheets of unidentified


Folder 15– Four poems by Annie Bell. Three in ms form, one clipping Titles: “Hushaby Sweet,” “Julieta,” “Marion,” and “The Fun of It.”

Box 2 of 2

Folder 1–Scrapbook of clippings relating to history and historic sites.

Folder 2–Scrapbook of clippings mainly of old New York, Newark some general historic.

Folder 3–Scrapbook with clippings pasted over account book. Subject matter general, newspaper articles–contents listed in front.

Folder 4–Scrapbook of newspaper clippings on famous queens, famous cities, and physical science. (Victoria, Elizabeth II, Catherine II.) II. Cities: Rome

Constantinople. Science: The formation of coal

Folder 5–Scrapbook of printed poetry not by Amanda Douglas.

Folder 6– Scrapbook of clippings of general interest plus some original poems in ms form.

Folder 7–Scrapbook of clippings of poetry (not her own) pasted on top on ms articles.


Scrapbook 1–Clippings of stories by Amanda Douglas.

Scrapbook 2– Mostly her poetry in ms form, a few clippings of printed stories. Scrapbook # 3–Weekly paper “The Gazette of the Union.”ff of 1851 with some articles of general interest pasted over.

BOOKS BY AMANDA M. DOUGLAS (b.l831-d.l9l6) 

List is alphabetical except that within the five series the books are listed in the order in which published. P indicates that the Paul Douglas family has the title M indicates that the book is on microfilm and available in some libraries on film:

A little girl in old Quebec, 1906 P A little girl in old Baltimore, 1907 P

A little girl in old Salem, 1908 P A little girl in old Pittsburg. 1909 P

A little missionary, 1904P

Lost in a great city, 1880 PM

Lucia: her problem, 1872

The midnight marriage, 1888

A modern Adam and Eve in a garden, 1888 M

A modern cinderella, 1913P

Nelly Kinnard’s kingdom, 187 6 PM

The old woman who lived in a shoe: or, there’s no place like home, 1874 P

Osborne of Arrochar, 1889 PM Our wedding gifts, 1878 M

Out of the wreck, 1884 PM

A question of silence, 1901

The children in the little old red house, 1912

The red house children at Grafton, 1913 P

The red house children’s vacation, 1914 P

The red house children’s year, 1915

The red house children growing up, 1916

Santa Claus Land, 1873 Seven daughters, 187 4 P

Sherburne house, 1892 P

Lyndell Sherburne, 1893 P

Sherburne cousins, 1894 P

A Sherburne romance, 1895 P

The mistress of Sherburne, 1896 P

The children at Sherburne house, 1897 P

Sherburne girls, 1898 P

The heir of Sherburne, 1899 P

A Sherburne inheritance, 1901 P

A Sherburne quest, 1902 P

Honor Sherburne, 1904 P In the Sherburne line, 1907 P

Stephen Dane, 186 7 P

The story of Helen, 1894

Sydnie Adriance; or, trying the world, 1868 P

There’s no place like home, 187 4 M

(same as Old woman who lived in a shoe?) Whom Kathie married, 1883

(Possibly part of the Kathie series. Also,* a single book seems to have been published both as Kathie in the ranks and In the ranks in 187 2)

With fate against him, 187 0 A woman’s inheritance, 1885 FM

A little girl in old Chicago 1904 P—

Published in A little girl in old San Francisco, 1905 P several (up to six) editions, years apart


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