James Buchanan Family Papers, Part 2 Papers of Harriet Lane Johnston, Series 1 contains the correspondence of Harriet Lane Johnston.
Subseries 1 contains letters written by Harriet to James Buchanan, Lily Macalester and Charles Macalester, Lois Buchanan, Hiram B. Swarr, Mary Speer, and others from 1848-1902.
Subseries 2 contains letters written to Harriet from Captain W. R. Palmer, Alfred Pleasanton, Laura Pleasanton, Isaac E. Hiester and others from 1854 to 1897, including several describing Washington, D.C. in 1861.
Born on May 9, 1830, Harriet Lane was the youngest surviving child of Elliot Toll Lane and Jane Buchanan Lane. When both of her parents died of consumption, now known as tuberculosis, Harriet went on to be her Uncle James Buchanan's ward in 1841. A well-educated lady, Harriet attended several boarding schools before graduating from the Georgetown Academy of Visitation Convent at the age of 18. When James Buchanan served as the U.S. Minister to Great Britain, Harriet Lane joined him for a time and served as a hostess. During her time in England, which she noted as "the realization of a beautiful dream," she befriended none other than Queen Victoria. When her Uncle assumed the presidency, Harriet Lane assumed her role as hostess. She is considered the first First Lady, as the title had initially been given to the president's hostess during Harriet's time in Washington.
After Buchanan's presidency, Harriet Lane married Henry Elliot Johnston, a banker from Baltimore, on January 11, 1866. She was 35 years old. The couple went on to have two sons, both of whom would pass away from rheumatic fever in their early teenage years. Two years after losing her youngest son, Harriet lost her husband to pneumonia. By 1884, Harriet was a childless widow. She would go on to leave a legacy for generations to come, including establishing a children's hospital in Baltimore called The Harriet Lane Home for Invalid Children (today the Harriet Lane Clinic at the John's Hopkins Children's Hospital), preserving her Uncle's letters and manuscripts, bestowing her art collection to the Corcoran Gallery and the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C., and constructing the St. Alban's School, a school for choir boys. She died on July 3, 1903. [ https://www.lancasterhistory.org/about-wheatland/, accessed 10/24/2019]
The James Buchanan Family Papers were collected by the James Buchanan Foundation for the Preservation of Wheatland. This collection was relocated from the Wheatland mansion to the LancasterHistory archives in the Spring of 2009. Digitization of the James Buchanan Family Papers was funded by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, PHMC Appl ID # 201808013051, 2019-2020.
James Buchanan Papers, Dickinson College Archives & Special Collections http://archives.dickinson.edu/collection-descriptions/james-buchanan-papers
James Buchanan and Harriet Lane Johnston Papers, Library of Congress https://www.loc.gov/collections/james-buchanan-and-harriet-lane-johnston-papers/
James Buchanan Papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, http://www2.hsp.org/collections/manuscripts/b/Buchanan0091.html
James Buchanan Papers, Penn State University Libraries, https://libraries.psu.edu/findingaids/1458.htm
Related Item Notes
James Buchanan Family Papers
James Buchanan Collection, MG0096
Historical Society of Pennsylvania microfilm
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