Alfred Bixby, teacher and superintendent at the Stratford Academy in Stratford, Connecticut, kept this volume between November 9, 1818, and February 22, 1819. The primary subject matter of the diary is his aggressive and unsuccessful pursuit of a young woman's hand in marriage. She is identified only by initials C.M.B. He also provided thoughts about law school (at Litchfield Law School), his future occupations, church politics, attendance at sermons, his character, the pursuit of wisdom, reading, students, a multitude of visits, troubles with his landlady, parties and balls, and other social matters.
Collection processed and finding aid created by Cheney J. Schopieray
Scope and Content:
Alfred Bixby, teacher and superintendent at the Stratford Academy in Stratford, Connecticut, kept this volume between November 9, 1818, and February 22, 1819. The diary primarily revolves around Alfred Bixby's aggressive attempts to court a young woman named C. M. B. [Catharine M. Booth?]. He spent numerous pages ruminating about her, describing their interactions, and dissecting the meaning of her actions and words. He wrote passionately, "O could I have taken her into my arms at that moment, the ardour of my feelings would have endangered her life. Nothing disagreeable followed; she gave me one or two lovely winks which pierced thro' my very soul" (November 9, 1818, p. 2). When he interpreted her actions as flirtatious towards other men, he feigned understanding--provided he was the primary object of her affections. Nevertheless, he wrote disparaging remarks about women's sexual proclivity (November 13, 1818, p. 11) and became irritable and confused when she withheld her attentions. He discussed marriage with her and she rejected him, but he continued to pursue her. After many interpretations of their interactions and her cold behavior toward him, he claimed he gave up his pursuit (November 24, 1818, p. 33). He continued to mention her throughout the remainder of the diary, with statements like "I feel less and less interested in C.M.B." (December 1, 1818, p. 47); "C.M.B. herself has done me an infinite favour in destroying before my eyes a fascination of her charms -- I cease to love the girl" (December 7, 1818, p. 56); and "Abl. Said Miss B observed to her . . . that she wished she could see me -- in order to know whether I had any excuse for using her so -- In this wish, I discover friendship" (December 19, 1818, p. 80). He went back and forth about his desire for her and his criticisms of her, even recording a dream in which the two surreptitiously united (February 9, 1819, pp. 163-164).
From November 26 to November 28, 1818, he described his travels to Litchfield, Bethlehem, and Derley Narrows, and a miscarried bundle from New Haven. His writings are interspersed with thoughts about law school (at Litchfield Law School), thoughts about his future occupations, church politics, attendance at sermons, his character, the pursuit of wisdom, reading, a multitude of visits, troubles with his landlady, parties and balls, and other social matters. He occasionally mentioned his role as a teacher at the Stratford Academy, evening spelling school, evening singing school, and students. He pondered his age (30) and lamented that he had not settled into a permanent residence or married.
A few entries of note include the following:
On December 23, 1818, he vowed to give up smoking cigars (p. 86).
On January 21, 1819, he reproved his "pupils for encouraging fighting - & for such meanness as unhinging people's gates by night" (p. 129).
He described a snowball fight between schoolboys, interrupted by a "cowardly rascal" shoemaker who knocked down and kicked two of the boys. Bixby interrupted and demanded reparations, which were decided at $5.00 in favor of the young men (January 31, 1819, p. 148).
Biographical / Historical:
Alfred Bixby was born in Lyme, New Hampshire, to parents Samuel Bixby and Elizabeth Strong Bixby, in 1789. He had at least one sibling, named Lewis Bixby. Alfred Bixby attended Andover from 1811 to 1812 and graduated from Union College in 1817. He attended the Litchfield Law School and married Lucy Fidelia Page at Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1821. Following her death in 1823, Bixby married Thyra or Thyrza Olmstead Bixby.
2020. M-7232 .
The collection is a single bound volume.
Rules or Conventions:
Finding aid prepared using Describing Archives: A Content Standard (DACS)
Additional Descriptive Data:
Bixby, Willard Goldthwaite. A Genealogy of the Descendants of Joseph Bixby, 1621-1701 of Ipswich and Boxford, MA. N.Y.: W.G. Bixby, 1914: 267.