Location: Bowdoin / Library / Special Collections & Archives / Manuscript Collections / Kate Douglas Wiggin Collection

Kate Douglas Wiggin Collection 1867-1985, n.d. (bulk 1891-1917).

3.50 linear feet.

Catalog Number: M187

Series List:


Agency History / Biographical Note:
Kate Douglas Wiggin (1856-1923) lived in Hollis, Maine, New York City, and Santa Barbara and San Franciso California. She received her education through "dame school", home study, district school, female seminary, and academy, later attending a kindergarten training class.

Wiggin started teaching kindergarten in 1877, and founded San Francisco's Silver Street training school in 1880. She supported kindergarten movement throughout her life; the Story of Patsy and The Birds' Christmas Carol, Wiggin's first books, were written as fundraising efforts. She co-wrote several books with her sister, Nora Archibald Smith.

Out of her travels to Europe in the 1890s came books for adults, including Penelope's Progress and Penelope's English Experiences. Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Wiggin's most famous book, was written in 1903.

In 1904, Bowdoin College presented an honorary degree to Wiggin, the second such degree the College granted to a woman. Soon after, she founded the Society of Bowdoin Women, a social and fundraising organization.

Wiggin was married twice, first in 1881 to Samuel Bradley Wiggin, who died in 1889, then to George Christopher Riggs in 1895. She died in Harrow England, August 24, 1923.

Scope and Content:
The collection contains correspondence, journals, book and story manuscripts, commonplace books, notebooks and notes related to Wiggin's writing, lectures on kindergarten subjects, clippings, photographs and material concerning her Irish "literary pilgrimage," the bulk of which date from 1891-1917. Correspondence is mostly with family including her sister Nora Archibald Smith and mother Helen Elizabeth Smith, and with Bowdoin community members including William De Witt Hyde, George T. Little, and members of the Society of Bowdoin Women. Other correspondents include: Frances Hodgson Burnett (1 letter), W.D. Howells (3 letters), Helen Keller (1 letter), and Jack London (1 letter). Loose clippings concern Wiggin, her homes, and special interests, while scrapbooks contain notices and reviews of her published works, especially Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Some photographs and reproductions of photographs in the collection are of Wiggin, her Maine home (Quillcote), the Scottish highlands, and Jack London (autographed). The collection is supplemented by first editions of Wiggin's works and autographed presentation volumes from her private library.

Finding Aid Note:Unpublished chronological list of correspondents available in library; item level control.

Cite as: Kate Douglas Wiggin Collection, Special Collections & Archives. Bowdoin College Library.
Access Restrictions: None.

George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives · Staff · Hours
Bowdoin College Library, 3000 College Station, Brunswick, Maine 04011-8421 · scaref@bowdoin.edu · (207) 725-3288