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Sarah Ann Hays Mordecai collection

Identifier: P-70

Scope and Content Note

The papers of Sarah Ann Hays Mordecai include: a commonplace book, a printed dictionary of plants and flowers, a pith drawing by Charlotte Meade Graham, several sketches, ephemera, poems, and correspondence.

The collection is valuable to researchers studying the Hays, Gratz, and Mordecai families, and Jewish women in the 19th century.

Of special interest is the commonplace book, which is visually stunning, illustrated throughout with color drawings and watercolors, and filled with poems, songs, and quotations, some written by Mordecai, but most written by friends, relatives, or others.

The collection also includes a published book, correspondence, drawings, pressed flowers, paper stencils, and slides.

The contents are in English, French, and Latin.


  • undated, 1823-1888


Language of Materials

The collection is in English, French, and Latin.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to all researchers, except items that may be restricted due to their fragility, or privacy.

Use Restrictions

No permission is required to quote, reproduce or otherwise publish manuscript materials found in this collection, as long as the usage is scholarly, educational, and non-commercial. For inquiries about other usage, please contact the Director of Collections and Engagement at

For reference questions, please email:

Biographical Note

Sarah Ann Hays Mordecai (1805-1894)

Sarah Ann Hays was born on September 27, 1805 to Samuel and Richea Gratz Hays. One of her maternal aunts was Rebecca Gratz (see *P-8), the founder of the Jewish Sunday School Society, about whom Sarah published a book in 1893.

Sarah married Alfred Mordecai, who served in the Mexican War, on June 1, 1836 in Philadelphia. The couple had eight children, including Alfred Mordecai, Jr., an officer in the Civil War; and Laura, Miriam, and Rosa Mordecai, whose papers are included in the Mordecai family papers (Collection P-116).

As a member of the interconnected network of elite Jewish families of the early 19th century, Mordecai traveled in elite circles, and was acquainted with many of the influential Americans - Jews and non-Jews - of the era.

Sarah Ann Hays Mordecai died on May 26, 1894, in Philadelphia.


.25 Linear Feet (1 half manuscript box)


Collection consists of a commonplace book containing 102 manuscript poems (and 22 illustrations) apparently by contemporary poets, the majority of which are dedicated to Miss Sarah Ann Hays. It also includes the work of Charles Fenno Hoffmann, Charlotte Meade Graham, and William Keating; an original water color of a view of Major Stephen Long's expedition party crossing the lower falls of the Winnipeg River by Samuel Seymour; 17 individual items among which are 3 original sketches; a pith drawing by Charlotte Meade Graham; and a copy of an 1830 edition of Flora's dictionary.


The collection is organized into a single series.

Acquisition Information


Related Material

Material relating to the children of Sarah Ann Hays Mordecai can be found in the papers of the Mordecai family (*P-116). In the library of the American Jewish Historical Society is a copy of a volume written by Sarah Ann Mordecai, Recollections of My Aunt, Rebecca Gratz (Philadelphia, 1893), and other material relating to the Gratz family can be found in the Gratz family papers (*P-8).

Guide to the Sarah Ann Hays Mordecai collection, undated, 1823-1888 *P-70
Processed by Felicia Herman
© 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • April, June 2020: EHyman: post-ASpace migration cleanup.

Repository Details

Part of the American Jewish Historical Society Repository

15 West 16th Street
New York NY 10011 United States