“A Young Woman’s Education in Jane Austen’s America” presents archives tracing the life of Plattsburgh, New York native Frances Henrietta Delord, as she obtained her education and prepared for married life. Her letters and honeymoon journal read like excerpts from a Jane Austen heroine’s journey. Tragically, Frances Henrietta Delord died shortly after returning from her year-long honeymoon in Europe, after giving birth to her daughter, another Frances (or Fanny).
The archival evidence on display presents evidence of her penmanship, reading, mathematical studies, geographical studies, and piercingly incisive and eloquent writing skills. These artifacts remind us, if we need reminding, that the women depicted in Jane Austen’s novels were not exaggerated figures of Austen’s imagination but representative of what actual women could be.