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History of Early American Landscape Design

Deborah Norris Logan

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Deborah Norris Logan Deborah Norris Logan (October 19, 1761-February 2, 1839), a writer and historian, contributed to the documentation of early American history by preserving, transcribing, and publishing a large cache of family papers. Her seventeen-volume diary (1815-1839) is itself an invaluable source of information concerning the social, political, and cultural life of early-nineteenth-century Philadelphia. Descended from some of Philadelphia’s original Quaker settlers (among them, her grandfather, Isaac Norris), Deborah Norris had an acute interest in the past history of her native city and its rapidly evolving circumstances. [1] She was an alert witness to many of the pivotal events in the establishment of the United States, recalling, for example, at the age of fourteen overhearing the first reading of the Declaration of Independence from the garden of her childhood home, which shared a wall with Philadelphia’s State House Yard. [2] In that same garden, Norris encountered many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and other prominent Philadelphia’s residents and visitors. The Norris garden--like many others in the vicinity—had a semi-public function, and Norris recalled that a stroll amid the parterres and beds was considered “by the more respectable citizens [of Philadelphia] as a treat to their friends from a distance, and as one of the means to impress them with a favourable opinion of the beauties of the city.” [3] Apart from attending Anthony Benezet’s Friends Girls School (the first public school for girls in America), Norris essentially educated herself through reading. [4] In 1781 she married George Logan (1753-1821), a Philadelphia native and Quaker recently returned from studying medicine in Edinburgh and London. In 1783 they assumed responsibility for renovating and maintaining Stenton, the Logan family’s war-damaged farm north of Philadelphia. George Logan abandoned medicine and devoted himself to scientific farming and agronomics, becoming one of the principal theorists of American agrarian democracy and a United States Senator. Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tag Among her guests were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Charles Willson Peale. In 1814 Logan discovered a trove of decaying letters between William Penn and his secretary, James Logan, her husband’s grandfather. [5] The letters she transcribed were published after her death in two volumes by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania (1870-72), which elected her its first honorary woman member in 1827. [6]

The following year, at the age of fifty-four, Logan began keeping a diary in which she resolved to record “whatever I shall hear of fact or anecdote that shall appear worthy of preservation. And many things for my own satisfaction likewise that may be irrelevant to others.” She also revealed her personal predilections: “My favourite amusements are gardening, writing,and reading.” [7] She wrote in her diary nearly every day for almost forty years, collecting historical anecdotes and transcribing details from her own daily life. Her entries abound with detailed descriptions of houses and gardens in and around Philadelphia. Gazing out a window one rainy summer day in 1824, she wrote: “The window is nearly covered with a network of wild Ivy and the Glycine, the latter of which greatly predominates, and lays forth its purple clusters of flowers and gently Green luxuriant! Between its lattice I see the Garden: the Broom with its strings of golden blooms, and the beautiful Horse-Chestnut with its thick covering of leaves – but I stop my writing pen, tho’ I am never weary of such scenes myself.” [8]

http://www.jstor.org/stable/20091741?Search=yes&resultItemClick=true&searchText=deborah&searchText=norris&searchText=logan&searchUri=%2Faction%2FdoBasicSearch%3FQuery%3Ddeborah%2Bnorris%2Blogan%26amp%3Bprq%3Ddeborah%2Bnorris%2Bgarden%2Bdeclaration%26amp%3Bgroup%3Dnone%26amp%3Bfc%3Doff%26amp%3Bso%3Drel%26amp%3Bhp%3D25%26amp%3Bacc%3Don%26amp%3Bwc%3Don&seq=24#page_scan_tab_contents April 9, 1821 her husband died; she began a memoir of his life, published in 1899 as Memoir of Dr. George Logan of Stenton .. in 1830 John F. Watson’s Annals of Philadelphia included her memoirs and some of the manuscripts she rescued. Deborah Logan died on February 2, 1839. The Historical Society of Philadelphia issued a tribute to her as a Pennsylvania historian.

References http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Logan

Deborah Logan’s diaries: http://stenton.org/index.php/history-collections-and-interpretation/deborah-logans-diaries/

Logan, Deborah Norris (1761–1839) - Local History - Philadelphia, Historical, Society, and Letters - JRank Articles http://encyclopedia.jrank.org/articles/pages/4711/Logan-Deborah-Norris-1761-1839.html#ixzz2yIuD1rTP Logan Family Papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania: http://www2.hsp.org/collections/manuscripts/l/Logan2023.html Logan Family Papers, University of Pennsylvania: http://dla.library.upenn.edu/dla/pacscl/ead.html?id=PACSCL_LCP_LCPLogan http://freedomsbackyard.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/deborah-norris-logan-historian-transcriber-memoirist/

  1. Karin Wulf, “’Of the Old Stock’: Quakerism and Transatlantic Genealogies in Colonial British America,” in The Creation of the British Atlantic World, ed. Elizabeth Mancke and Carole Shammas (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2005), 304–20, view on Zotero.
  2. Marleen Barr, “Deborah Norris Logan, Feminist Criticism, and Identity Theory: Interpreting A Woman’s Diary Without The Danger of Separatism,” Biography, 8 (1985): 14, view on Zotero.
  3. Susan M. Stabile, Memory’s Daughter: The Material Culture of Remembrance in Eighteenth-Century America (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 2004), 229, view on Zotero.
  4. Marleen Barr, “Deborah Norris Logan, Feminist Criticism, and Identity Theory: Interpreting A Woman’s Diary Without The Danger of Separatism,” Biography, 8 (1985): 14, view on Zotero; Terri L. Premo, ‘“Like a Being Who Does Not Belong”: The Old Age of Deborah Norris Logan’, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 107 (1983),.87, view on Zotero.
  5. Marleen Barr, “Deborah Norris Logan, Feminist Criticism, and Identity Theory: Interpreting A Woman’s Diary Without The Danger of Separatism,” Biography, 8 (1985): 14, view on Zotero.
  6. Terri L. Premo, ‘“Like a Being Who Does Not Belong”: The Old Age of Deborah Norris Logan’, The Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 107 (1983),.87, view on Zotero. See also Logan, Deborah, Correspondence between William Penn and James Logan, Secretary of the Province of Pennsylvania, and Others, 1700-1750. From the Original Letters in the Possession of the Logan Family, ed. by Edward Armstrong, 2 vols. (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1872), vol. 1, view on Zotero; vol. 2, view on Zotero.
  7. Deborah Norris Logan, introduction and diary entry for October 16, 1815, quoted in Marleen Barr, “Deborah Norris Logan, Feminist Criticism, and Identity Theory: Interpreting A Woman’s Diary Without The Danger of Separatism,” Biography, 8 (1985): 15 and 18, view on Zotero.
  8. Deborah Logan, unpublished diary entry, 1824, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, quoted on Stenton House website, http://stenton.org/index.php/history-collections-and-interpretation/deborah-logans-diaries/; accessed 3/24/15.

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History of Early American Landscape Design contributors, "Deborah Norris Logan," History of Early American Landscape Design, , https://heald.nga.gov/mediawiki/index.php?title=Deborah_Norris_Logan&oldid=7875 (accessed December 7, 2021).

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