J. L. BELL is a Massachusetts writer who specializes in (among other things) the start of the American Revolution in and around Boston. He is particularly interested in the experiences of children in 1765-75. He has published scholarly papers and popular articles for both children and adults. He was consultant for an episode of History Detectives, and contributed to a display at Minute Man National Historic Park.

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Monday, December 24, 2018

Anna Green Winslow’s Cold Christmas Eve

On 24 Dec 1771 twelve-year-old Anna Green Winslow sat down to write a letter to her mother in Halifax. Anna was living with an aunt in Boston for the better educational opportunities. Of course that meant private lessons, not the town schools, since she was a girl.

Anna started this letter with the winter weather:
to-day is by far the coldest we have had since I have been in New England. (N.B. All run that are abroad.)
Which I think means that anyone who had gone outside hurried through their errands in order to get back inside as fast as possible.
Last sabbath being rainy I went to & from meeting in Mr. Soley’s chaise. I dined at unkle Winslow’s, the walking being so bad I rode there & back to meeting. Every drop that fell froze, so that from yesterday morning to this time the appearance has been similar to the discription I sent you last winter.

The walking is so slippery & the air so cold, that aunt [Sarah Deming] chuses to have me for her scoller these two days. And as tomorrow will be a holiday, so the pope and his associates have ordained, my aunt thinks not to trouble Mrs Smith with me this week.
“Mrs Smith” was Elizabeth Murray Campbell Smith, who was teaching Anna embroidery and other needle crafts. The Smiths were Anglican, so they celebrated Christmas. So between that holiday and the weather, Aunt Deming decided to keep the young “scoller” at home so she wouldn’t slip and fall on the ice.

Anna and her aunt attended the Old South Meeting-House, and like a good descendant of the early Puritans, she viewed the 25 December holiday as a fallacy of “the pope and his associates.” Still, she got to stay home from schooling.

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