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Lamb, Martha Joanna Reade Nash (ca. 1826–1893) - Local History

york magazine published city

Martha Joanna Reade Nash Lamb was born in Plainfield, Massachusetts, on ugust 13, 1826 or 1829, to Arvin Nash and Lucinda Vinton. Her paternal ancestors were Mayflower settlers in 1620; her mother’s relatives were French Huguenots who settled in the 1640s. Martha attended school in Goshen, Massachusetts, before entering Williston Seminary in Easthampton in 1844 and attending Northampton High School thereafter. In 1847 she published “A Visit to My Mother’s Birthplace” in the Hampshire Gazette . She then taught mathematics in schools in Newark, New Jersey, and Maumee, Ohio, during the next few years. On September 8, 1852, she married Charles A. Lamb, a mechanic, and lived in Ohio until 1857, when they moved to Chicago. The next year she founded, with Jane C. Hoge, the Home for the Friendless and the Half-Orphan Asylum.

During the Civil War, Martha Lamb was secretary for Chicago’s first Sanitary Fair and helped raise money for soldiers’ relief. In 1866 she moved to New York City, probably as a divorcée, as records show that Charles Lamb eventually remarried. She began writing to support herself, producing a variety of children’s books, short stories, a romantic novel, and magazine articles. She also began working on a history of New York City, researching old volumes, records, and manuscripts and interviewing survivors of old New York families. In 1877 the first volume of History of the City of New York: The Origins, Rise, and Progress was published in a subscription edition by A. S. Barnes. It covered the Colonial period in 786 pages. The second volume appeared in 1880 and was praised by historian George Bancroft, Nation magazine, and the Edinburgh Review .

In 1883 Lamb published Historical Sketch of New York for the Tenth Census and purchased and edited Magazine of American History , which had been   founded in 1877. She wrote over fifty signed articles and many unsigned pieces for the magazine. (Some of these were later published in book form as Wall Street History in 1883, and “Washington Portraits,” compiled in 1888 but unpublished.) In addition, Lamb belonged to over twenty-five historical and patriotic societies including the New-York Historical Society. She was honored at a White House dinner by President Grover Cleveland in 1886 and by President Benjamin Harrison in 1889. In 1891 she was invited to a meeting of the Royal Society of Canada, an honor never before offered to women not having royal blood. In January 2, 1893, Martha Lamb died of pneumonia. The Magazine of American History was sold and ceased publication in September of that same year.

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