MSS 288 Teresa Vielé scrapbooks, Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, Newark, Delaware
1870-1871 ; 2 volumes (circa 260 pages)
The Teresa Vielé collection consists of two volumes of scrapbooks, each approximately 130 pages in length, created between June 1870 to October 1871. Teresa Griffin Vielé‚ lived in New York City and she was married to General Egbert L. Vielé‚ with whom she had five children. Around the year 1870, Teresa and Egbert Vielé‚ sued each other for divorce on almost identical grounds: adultery, insanity, and cruelty. Mrs. Vielé‚ was accused of having an affair with General W.W. Averill, and Gen. Vielé ‚ with Miss Julia Dana. The suits also involved a custody battle for their five children. Because of the couple’s high social standing and the relative rarity of divorce the 19th century, the case was widely publicized in the New York papers.
The content of the scrapbooks centers on the scandalous divorce. Such material includes letters, newspaper clippings, and telegrams from attorneys and detectives. The scrapbooks also contain calling cards from prominent members of New York society; invitations to balls, charities, or weddings; programs for concerts and church services; and announcements for lectures or events. Material relating to Vielé’s personal business consists of notes and receipts from banks, insurance companies, antique furniture dealers, hotels, and renters. Other items found in the collection are a newspaper clipping of a poem, “To My Child,” published by Teresa Vielé in The Home Journal, a transcription of a piece called “The Rights of Woman,” and a page on which Vielé glued fern specimens from the Pacific Coast.
The Vielé scrapbooks provide insight into the social conventions of 19th-century upper-middle class women, such as writing letters and calling on friends or becoming involved with charities. The material also documents public reaction to divorce and issues of child custody, notably in a case where the woman sought separation as well as the husband.
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Submitted by Rebecca Johnson Melvin, University of Delaware