Edward Bliss Emerson, a younger brother of Ralph Waldo Emerson and a promising scholar in his own right, traveled to the West Indies at the age of 26 hoping to alleviate his pulmonary afflictions. While in the islands, from January 1831 to July 1832, he logged his daily activities in a pocket journal. The journal falls short in revealing Edward’s childhood, his years at Harvard, and his brief time as teacher and lawyer. This biographical essay aims to enhance the understanding and enjoyment of the journal. It unveils defining stages in Edward’s life. Using a wide variety of archival documents, the author illustrates how Edward adapted to new circumstances and places, while renewing his quests for health, education and purpose.


Edward Bliss Emerson, West Indies, St. Croix, Puerto Rico, New England, Education, Harvard College, Biography


The author received no funding for this project and has no conflict of interest to report.

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