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Leah Catharine Deyo was born in New Paltz, NY in 1818 and resided in the Hudson Valley until her death in 1849. John and Katia Jacobs, descendants of Leah Catharine preserved a collection of her correspondence, daguerreotypes, clothing and photographs. They generously donated it to the Haviland-Heidgerd Historical Collection at the Elting Library in the 1980s. This exhibit chronicles different aspects of Leah Catharine's life and offers a glimpse into the daily life of a mid-nineteenth century woman.

The Leah Catharine Deyo Collection contains the correspondence of Leah Catharine Deyo to her sister-in-law Maria Lefevre Deyo. The letters begin in 1845, when Leah Catharine is in Saratoga Springs taking "the Cure" for consumption. The women continue writing regularly until Leah Catharine's death in 1849. The letters recount the harrowing details of Leah Catharine's battle with consumption as well as her grief over the loss of her two children, possibly to the same disease.

Leah Catharine and Maria Lefevre Deyo also wrote to each other about the mundane aspects of early Victorian family life; farming, child-rearing, sewing and knitting, and fashion.

View all of the letters