Monday, February 6, 2012

Lost But Not Forgotten

By Kerry Lippincott, Education Coordinator

When people ask what we do at the Chemung County Historical Society, the simplest answer is we tell stories.  Whether it's though exhibits, publications or educational programming we tell the stories of the Chemung County. In addition, we show how the people, events and places in Chemung County fit into state and national history.

One of my favorite stories is about writer Anna Campbell Palmer. (1854-1928).  Though her contemporaries were Louisa May Alcott, Edna Ferber and Will Cather, Anna has largely been forgotten.

Except for the four years she spent going to school in Ithaca, Anna spent her entire life in Elmira.  Orphaned at 14, she became a teacher at 16 to support herself.  After eight years of teaching, Anna married store clerk George Palmer on September 28, 1880.  The couple would eventually have two daughters Georgianna (best known for teaching music to generations of Elmirans) and Sally.

Shortly after her marriage, to earn additional income Anna began writing.  Under the pen name Mrs. George Archibald (her own name would not appear in her work until 1901) Anna wrote newspaper and magazine articles, poems, short stories and books.  Her articles appeared in the Elmira Sunday Telegram and Elmira Evening Star and her column 'The Well Meant Comment" appeared in the Elmira Sunday Telegram until two weeks prior to her death.  She even served as the assistant editor of the Elmira Evening Star.  Anna also served as a correspondent for the New York Globe and Buffalo Express.  Her short stories and poems appeared in national magazines like St. Nicholas Magazine, Ladies Home Journal, Harper's Magazine, Frank Leslie Illustrated and Youth Companion.

A critic at the time, however, said Anna was at her best in stories for and bout children.  Her children's books included The Summerville Prize (1890), Lady Gay and Her Sister (1891), A Little Brown Seed (1891), Lady Gay (1898) and A Dozen Good Times (1898).

Anna may have been forgotten but I like to think that her spirit lives on in our collection of her books, articles, poems and family photographs.

Anna Campbell Palmer


  1. Very nice, cant wait to see what comes next.

  2. Congratulations on this new outreach initiative. Like Peggy, I'm looking forward to future postings.

    Bryan Reddick