More great detective work! Could you share a link or two to some examples? We can see what others think here, and on twitter.
-Victoria, Community Manager
As noted by the by the Manuscript Division staff below, there are two books about Dickinson ("Joan of Arc" and "Embattled Maiden", which both say Anna calls her mother "Marmee". The only specific example (transcribed letter) I could find was in "Embattled Maiden". The letter was from August 15, 1873. The source is at this link (bottom center letter) and it definitely looks like "Marmee".
Some of her later letters look more like "Maumee" (like this one from 1894):
However, Anna's handwriting is "inconsistent", to put it kindly. So unless I hear differently I will continue to transcribe it as "Marmee".
1 person found this helpful
I'm posting an update in case anybody else is having a question about this.
Now that I'm more familiar with Anna's writing, I can see that although her early letters refer to her mother as "Marmee", in the middle of 1875 she starts referring to her as "Maumee" or "Maum". (This happens right after her "reconstruction tour" of the South; not sure if it's related). After 1875 I don't see her using "Marmee" at all anymore, and she seems to use exclusively "Maumee" or "Maum".
I've tried to update all of the places where I had it transcribed incorrectly, but if anybody finds one I missed, feel free to change it.
According to America's Joan of Arc: The Life of Anna Elizabeth Dickinson, as you have noted, and Embattled Maiden: the Life of Anna Dickinson, Anna Dickinson often addressed her mother, Mary Dickinson, as "Marmee" in her letters. I also located a citation in Ghosts of the Confederacy, which lists "Marum Mary Dickinson," though I did not locate any additional information suggesting this was a variation of Mary Dickinson's name. I cannot definitively say whether "Marmee" or another word is written on the correspondence, as I did not find any evidence, but it appears that Mary Dickinson most often signed her name "M. E. Dickinson" in her correspondence. I did not locate letters to Mary from her other children that used the same nickname. In comparing the "r" in "Marmee" on this page to others written in Anna's hand on the page, I do believe it is "Marmee." In addition, as you may know, "Marmee" was a popular nickname for one's mother in the period, as in Little Women and as its author, Louisa May Alcott, addressed her own mother in letters. I located the following interesting review from the New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/06/books/review/marmee-dearest.html .
Our By the People administrators suggest the following for illegible text:
If there is a word or a string of words you cannot read use a pair of square brackets around a question mark [?]. Example:
- "I have [?] loved coffee ice cream"
Library of Congress