Wiggin, Kate Douglas


AQS from the 1887 “The Birds’ Christmas Carol” by the popular children’s author, famed for “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”

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Autograph ID: 3825
Condition: Very good
Description: ” (1856-1923) American educator, author of children’s stories, most notably the classic “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm”. She started the first free kindergarten in San Francisco in 1878 (the Silver Street Free Kindergarten). With her sister during the 1880s, she also established a training school for kindergarten teachers. Kate Wiggin devoted her adult life to the welfare of children in an era when children were commonly thought of as cheap labor. Her education was spotty and casual, but she received more education than most women of the time. During 1873, her family relocated to Santa Barbara, and n 1878, she headed the first free kindergarten in California, on Silver Street in the slums of San Francisco. By 1880 she formed a teacher-training school in conjunction with the Silver Street kindergarten. In 1881, Kate married (Samuel) Bradley Wiggin, a San Francisco lawyer. She resigned her teaching job, but, devoted to her school, she raised money for it through writing, first “The Story of Patsy” (1883), then “The Birds’ Christmas Carol” (1887). Both privately printed books were issued commercially by Houghton Mifflin in 1889, with enormous success. Wiggin married NYC businessman George Christopher Riggs in 1895, who became her staunch supporter as her success increased. With her sister, Nora A. Smith, she published scholarly works on the educational principles of Friedrich Froebel: Froebel’s Gifts (1895), Froebel’s Occupations (1896), and Kindergarten Principles and Practice (1896). She wrote the classic children’s novel “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” (1903), as well as the 1905 best-seller “Rose o’ the River”. “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm became an immediate bestseller; both it and “Mother Carey’s Chickens” (1911) were adapted to drama. Houghton Mifflin collected her writings in 10 volumes in 1917. Her autobiography, “My Garden of Memory”, was published after her death.

AQS on a 3 x 4 ½ card: “Never forget that your mother was a ‘McGrill’!/Mrs. Ruggles”. Mrs. Ruggles is a major character in “The Birds’ Christmas Carol”, the quotation a paraphrase of the conclusion of “Chapter 5: Some Other Birds Are Taught To Fly”: “…don’t forget your mother was a McGrill!”

The 1887 story concerns Carol Bird, a Christmas-born child, loving and generous, with a positive effect on everyone she meets. She is the youngest of her family with devoted older brothers. At about 5, she contracts an unspecified illness; at 10, she is bedridden and does not have long to live. The novel involves her planning a Christmas celebration (and birthday party for herself) for the 9 Ruggles children, a poor, working-class family nearby. The book is more than a wistful moral tale about a saintly child, having many humorous scenes, particularly involving the Ruggleses’ home life.”
Type: AQS

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