Sophia Dwight Foster Burnside was the older sister of Albert
(1800-52), a Worcester resident and member of the American
Society. Sophia married Samuel M'Gregore Burnside (1783-1850) in
at the age of 29. Among the extensive collection of the Foster
papers preserved in the Society's manuscript collection are weekly
written by Sophia to her mother Rebecca Faulkner Foster who lived
Massachusetts.(2) Her letters focus primarily on health and family
including detailed reports on her children and her brother's
and well-being. Visits to Brookfield to see her parents were
In 1820, after a carriage accident during a journey from
Worcester, Sophia wrote immediately to her father to describe the
'[T]he driver lost the command of [the horses] - they ran.... We
a man on horseback, our horses ran with violence against his,
down, threw the man off, overset our carriage, threw the driver
seat, did not stop their progress but went on with increased
the carriage on the side.' The driver stopped the horses by
towards a rock wall, and Sophia noted, 'Mr. Burnside and I then
or rather, climbed out and found ourselves safe on the ground
having received any injury excepting a bruise on Mr. B.'s arm.'(3)
parents moved to Worcester in 1821, and the correspondence between
and her mother, as well as visits to Brookfield, become less
after that date.
Sophia's husband, Samuel M'Gregore Burnside, was a lawyer in
and, as a member of the Worcester School Committee and a trustee
Academy, was active in community affairs. Burnside was also one of
incorporators of the American Antiquarian Society, joining Isaiah
Sr. and others to form the Society in 1812. He was a Councillor of
Society and briefly served as librarian from May 1830 to April
Burnside was primarily interested in the Society's newspaper
and over the course of thirty years gave dozens of issues of the
Centinel, the Boston Courier, and the Worcester Palladium.(5) His
papers, including speeches supporting public education, and his
are preserved in the American Antiquarian Society's manuscript
This miniature of Sophia Burnside was painted around 1830 by the
painter Eliza Goodridge. Eliza Goodridge's earliest miniatures
the late 1820s and are similar in style to the work of her sister
fellow artist Sarah Goodridge, although not as technically
Goodridge probably began her career in Boston working with her
but spent most of her life in the central part of the state. She
in Templeton, Massachusetts, and made several extended trips to
in the 1830s and 1840s, living with the Foster family, of which
several portraits. In 1849, at the age of fifty-one, Goodridge
Colonel Ephraim Stone, who owned a general store and sawmill in
Seven miniatures of the Stone family painted by Eliza Goodridge,
her self-portrait, are preserved in the Narragansett Historical
in Templeton, Massachusetts. The Society's holding of twelve
by her is the largest collection of her known work.
1) Weis incorrectly lists the sitter's first name as
2) Foster Family Papers 1740-1884, American Antiquarian
3) Sophia Dwight Foster Burnside to Dwight Foster, March
Foster Family Papers.
4) Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society
234. During this period the Society's librarian Christopher
was on leave.
5) Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society (May
Samuel M. Burnside also authored 'Memoir of Isaiah Thomas L.L.D.,
President of the American Antiquarian Society,' which appeared in
second volume of the Society's Archeaologia Americana, (1836):
6) Samuel M'Gregore Burnside Papers 1783-1850, American
Society Manuscript Collection. Burnside mentions his wife
in his diaries, usually in the context of social occasions, ie.
to meeting with Mrs. B.'
7) Dale T. Johnson, American Portrait Miniatures in the
(New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1990), 123-24. The Manney
includes a miniature of an unknown woman that is signed 'E.
Pinxt, Sept. 26, 1829.'
8) Strickler, American Portrait Miniatures , 63.