Date of this Version
Documentary Editing, Volume 25, Number 2, Summer 2003. ISSN 0196-7134
My quest after Lauretta Hitchcock and the family connections that shaped her values and beliefs began in 1989, when I came across this young woman at the Salmon P. Chase Papers. John Niven, editor of the Chase Papers, took little notice of Lauretta Hitchcock because the project focused on Salmon P. Chase's rise as an anti-slavery lawyer and political leader. Out of four letters between 1826 and 1827 from Chase to Lauretta or members of her family and seventeen letters between 1826 and 1832 from Lauretta or her relatives to Chase, Niven chose only one for publication in the select letter press edition. 1 That particular letter caught his eye because it detailed Chase's first impressions of Washington, D.C., and not because it revealed the relationship between Chase and the Hitchcocks.2 This decision made perfect sense given Niven's editorial focus. The editorial methods of the Chase Papers determined that research concerning the Hitchcocks extend no further than manuscript correspondence in the project files and readily available print sources to supply simple identifications. My interest was peaked, however, and my goal became to discover as much as possible about Lauretta Hitchcock. My curiosity expanded the research focus dramatically. Ironically, as it turns out, my efforts to uncover the life of Lauretta Hitchcock brought to light that the Hitchcocks seem to bear significant responsibility for Chase's anti-slavery sentiments!