Cherokee Sister


Cherokee Sister

The Collected Writings of Catharine Brown, 1818-1823

Catharine Brown
Edited and with an introduction by Theresa Strouth Gaul

Legacies of Nineteenth-Century American Women Writers Series

312 pages
1 photograph, 1 illustration


January 2014


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eBook (EPUB)

June 2022


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eBook (PDF)

January 2014


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About the Book

Catharine Brown (1800?–1823) became Brainerd Mission School’s first Cherokee convert to Christianity, a missionary teacher, and the first Native American woman whose own writings saw extensive publication in her lifetime. After her death from tuberculosis at age twenty-three, the missionary organization that had educated and later employed Brown commissioned a posthumous biography, Memoir of Catharine Brown, which  enjoyed widespread contemporary popularity and praise.

In the following decade, her writings, along with those of other educated Cherokees, became highly politicized and were used in debates about the removal of the Cherokees and other tribes to Indian Territory. Although she was once viewed by literary critics as a docile and dominated victim of missionaries who represented the tragic fate of Indians who abandoned their identities, Brown is now being reconsidered as a figure of enduring Cherokee revitalization, survival, adaptability, and leadership.
In Cherokee Sister Theresa Strouth Gaul collects all of Brown’s writings, consisting of letters and a diary, some appearing in print for the first time, as well as Brown’s biography and a drama and poems about her. This edition of Brown’s collected works and related materials firmly establishes her place in early nineteenth-century culture and her influence on American perceptions of Native Americans.

Author Bio

Theresa Strouth Gaul is a professor of English at Texas Christian University. She is the editor of To Marry an Indian: The Marriage of Harriett Gold and Elias Boudinot in Letters, 1823–1839 and a coeditor of Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers.


"Cherokee Sister perfectly captures what a scholastic collection of archival papers should be."—Joshua M. Rice, Great Plains Quarterly

"Cherokee Sister is an essential intervention into, and addition to, the canon of nineteenth-century American Indian writers. The introductory essay is exemplary, serving not only as a recalibration of Brown's importance but also as a field- defining treatise on how we should approach nineteenth- century Native writing in general."—Bethany Schneider, Legacy

"Cherokee Sister: The Collected Writings of Catharine Brown, 1818-1823 offers to Americanists and Native Americanists alike a versatile collection of perhaps the earliest published Native American woman author in the United States. . . . Cherokee Sister's ability to speak to so many interconnected contexts and issues will service a range of college classrooms toward a more nuanced understanding of the complexities of agency and adaptation in nineteenth-century Native American literatures."—Michael P. Taylor, Early American Literature

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations   000
Acknowledgments   000
Statement of Editorial Method 000
List of Abbreviations   000
Editor’s Introduction   000
      “My beloved people”: Early Life and Cherokee Contexts 000
      “The dear missionaries”: Education, Conversion, and Missionary Contexts 000
      “A means of great good to our people”: Interpreter and Teacher    000
      Brown’s Writings  000
            “With pleasure I spend a few moments in writing to you”: Brown’s              Letters     000
            “I jest sit down to address you with my pen”: The Rhetorics of                Brown’s Letters   000
            “O painful is it to record”: Brown’s Diary      000
            Other Textual Representations 000
            Memoir of Catharine Brown     000
Part 1. Collected Writings, 1818-1823
Letters     000
Diary 000
Part 2. Nineteenth-Century Representations of Catharine Brown
Catharine Brown, the Converted Cherokee: A Missionary Drama, Founded on Fact (1819) 000
      A Lady of Connecticut
Excerpt from Traits of the Aborigines of America (1822)     000
      Lydia Sigourney
“Inscription: For the Grave of Catharine Brown” (1825)      000
“The Grave of Catharine Brown” (1825)     000
Memoir of Catharine Brown, a Christian Indian of the Cherokee Nation (1825)   000
      Rufus Anderson
Source Acknowledgments  000
Notes 000
Works Cited 000


2015 Edition Award from the Society for the Study of American Women Writers

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