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Princeton Symposium on Elizabeth Isham

Elizabeth Isham at Princeton, 7th-8th September 2007


A workshop organised by the British Academy 'Constructing Elizabeth Isham' project


In September 2007 our project symposium took place at Princeton University. Elizabeth Clarke, Jill Millman, Alice Eardley, Michelle Di Meo and Kate Evans, from Warwick University, and Erica Longfellow, from Kingston University, all travelled to Princeton to share results with Professor Nigel Smith, the participant at Princeton, and to participate in a two-day workshop on women’s autobiography. Workshop participants, scholars with particular and relevant expertise, were able to view the Princeton autobiography and consult transcriptions of both manuscripts. This workshop enabled the project leaders to present preliminary data and test ideas for the web edition.

We were very pleased to have the support of some of the best scholars of women's manuscript writings in the seventeenth century, including: Victoria Burke, University of Ottawa; Anne Cotterill, University of Missouri, Rolla; Michelle Dowd, University of North Carolina, Greensboro; Julie Eckerle, University of Minnesota, Morris; Margaret Ezell, Texas A&M; Elizabeth Hageman, University of New Hampshire; Rebecca Laroche, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs; Kathleen Lynch, Folger Shakespeare Library; Sharon Seelig, Smith College; Edith Snook, University of New Brunswick; and Isaac Stephens, University of California, Riverside. We were especially pleased to welcome Ann Cotterill and Isaac Stephens, both of whom have been working on Elizabeth Isham's manuscripts for some time. A link to Isaac Stephens' transcription of Isham's autobiographical narrative can be found at


The focus of the workshop was the methodologies to be used in exploring an early modern woman’s self-construction. Topics covered included discussion of the manuscripts' creation, chronologies, and purposes. Consideration of Isham as an autobiographer was also central to the symposium. Other themes included Isham's family context, her reading and education, her theology and devotional practice, and her knowledge and practice of medicine.


Keynote speakers


Margaret Ezell, 'Elizabeth Isham's Books of Remembrance and Forgetting'

Elizabeth Hageman [paper not yet online]


Full texts of the project team's latest research into the Isham archive


Erica Longfellow, '"Take unto you words": gender, family writing culture and Elizabeth Isham’s life-writing'

Alice Eardley, '‘hewen stone’: Constructing Elizabeth Isham’s ‘Booke of Rememberance’'

Jill Millman, 'Northamptonshire Record Office MS IL3365: The Other Life of Elizabeth Isham'

Michelle DiMeo, 'The Draft of Elizabeth Isham’s Medical Receipt Book'


Abstracts from papers given at the symposium


Elizabeth Clarke, 'What kind of a Puritan is Elizabeth Isham?'

Ann Cotterill, 'Fit Words for the “Pitts brinke”: the Achievement of Elizabeth Isham'

Michelle Dowd, 'Forms of Selfhood: Household Piety and the Mothers’ Legacy'

Julie Eckerle, 'Isham and the Re-construction of Autobiography' 

Rebecca Laroche, 'Elizabeth Isham's Herbal'

Sharon Seelig, '“My Booke of Rememberance”: Contexts for Reading Elizabeth Isham'

Edith Snook, 'The Physiology of Reading in Elizabeth Isham’s Spiritual Autobiography'

Isaac Stephens, ''Imboldened' by Saint Augustine: The Influence of the Confessions on Elizabeth Isham'