Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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GRAHAM, Isabella, philanthropist, born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, 29 July, 1742: died in New York City, 27 July, 1814. She was the daughter of John Marshall, who educated her carefully. In 1765 she married Dr. John Graham, a physician of Paisley, and accompanied him with his regiment to Canada, where she spent four years. Her husband was then ordered to the Island of Antigua, where he died in 1774. Mrs. Graham returned to Scotland, but in 1789 came to New York City, and established a school for young ladies, in which for many years she was eminently successful. Before leaving Scotland she had founded the Penny society, now known as the Society for the relief of the destitute sick, and she continued to labor in the same field in New York. Among the more important of the institutions established by her are the Widows and Orphans' asylum societies, the Society for the promotion of industry, and the first Sunday-school for ignorant adults. She also aided in organizing the first missionary society, and the first monthly missionary prayer-meeting in the City of her resilience. She was the first president of the Magdalen society, systematically visited the inmates of the hospital and the sick female convicts in the state-prison, and distributed Bibles and tracts long before there was a Bible or tract society in New York.--Her daughter, Joanna, who survived her, was the mother of George W. Bethune (q. v.). Of the "Life and Letters" of Mrs. Graham (1816; last edition, London, 1838) more than 50,000 copies have been sold in this country, and many editions issued in England and Scotland. See "Letters and Correspondence," selected by her daughter, Mrs. Bethune (New York, 1838); and Mason's "Memoir of Isabella Graham," published by the American tract society.
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