Cover of Elsie Jefferis's scrapbook.

Independent Women supports the use of online archives as a means to “recover” texts written by lesser-known women authors of the American literary scene. In particular, this site spotlights letters and publications of women authors who published in the nineteenth-century American periodical The Independent.

This site originates from the contents of a scrapbook located in Special Collections at the Patricia W. and J. Douglas Perry Library at Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA. In the scrapbook were letters and autographs collected by Elsie Louise Jefferis Noyes between the years 1880 and 1881. Ms. Jefferis corresponded with her family friend, William Hayes Ward, editor of The Independent, a nineteenth-century weekly newspaper founded in 1848. The letters in the collection are concentrated in the year 1880-1881 and provide insight into the world of American periodical publishing during the “Gilded Age.”

Most of the correspondence concerns business exchanges between authors and the editors of the newspaper, either as requests accompanying submissions or as replies to queries by the editors. A number of the letters in the collection are written by women and provide insights into the professional lives of women authors during the period.