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Annie E. L. Hobbs journal, 1876

31 pages

Annie E. L. Hobbs, of Laconia, New Hampshire, wrote this journal during her trip to the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. In detailed passages, she described the various exhibit halls visited and her reactions to the sights of Philadelphia and the spectacle of the exhibition.

Aware that she would be taking part in an historic event, Annie Hobbs decided to keep a record of her trip to the Centennial Exhibition, and she filled 31 pages with her account, which she titled, "Wayside notes to the Centennial." Although her description of the contents of Hall after Hall is slightly repetitive, Annie is often specific -- and humorous -- about what she is seeing. In the Women's Pavilion, for instance, she saw Martha Washington's slippers, feather flowers, and "a novelty -- in the form of a woman's face made of Butter -- we have often heard of Dough faces but never before of a Butter face" (p. 6). In addition to providing detailed information about the exhibits, this account also shows a woman from the country's reactions to the big city and the exciting spectacle of the exhibition.

From the moment she arrived, Annie was happy she had come: "As I gazed at the various Buildings on the outside -- before seeing their interior, I felt that this view alone would pay for the trip, so colossal in their proportions -- so beautiful in their design and finish that one can only behold and admire" (pp. 4-5). Attending the exhibition also reinforced her patriotic sentiments. Even after appreciating the foreign exhibits, she would reiterate how magnificent "our own" had been and how proud she was of her country's achievements. Touring Independence Hall also fired up her enthusiasm: "While visiting these interesting, time worn relics, a feeling of awe and reverence came over us -- They seemed sacred inasmuch as they had been owned and handled by those great and good men" (p. 19). Annie was also impressed that even in the throngs of people, a "uniform politeness and courtesy had seemed to be possessed both by visitors and officers and servants in the various departments" (p. 28).

Annie did have some predictable complaints, shared by tourists of all eras. Sore feet, fatigue, and overpriced souvenirs all annoyed her, but did not interfere unduly with her enjoyment of the exhibition. Having to rely on restaurants for food was another obstacle, and Annie retained her sense of humor while recording all of the terrible food they ate, including watery oyster stew and bad pickles. She was also saddened by the news that their church back home had burned during their absence. By the time her party boarded the train for home, she was suffering from a severe cold, and was glad to finally arrive there two days later.


Clara Ballou papers, 1900-1903 (majority within 1902-1903)

0.25 linear feet

The Clara Ballou papers contain correspondence Clara and her traveling companion, Florence, wrote to their aunt, Carrie Miller, while traveling throughout Europe. The collection also includes love letters Clara received from her future husband, Joshua W. Nichols of Hathorne, Massachusetts.

The Clara Ballou papers contain correspondence Clara and her traveling companion, Florence, wrote to their aunt, Carrie Miller, while traveling throughout Europe. The collection also includes love letters Clara received from her future husband, Joshua W. Nichols of Hathorne, Massachusetts. The first 3 letters in the collection, from December 1900 and January 1901, describe their travels in Jamaica, and provide detailed descriptions of scenery, local fashion, and social life around the island. The rest of the letters relate to their extended tour of Europe, which occupied most of 1902, and includes correspondence from the travelers and from Clara's beau, whose letters often reveal details of her adventures. Throughout much of their trip, Clara and Florence toured England, though they also visited Ireland and Norway. Some of their destinations were Oxford's Bodleian Library, the city of London, and Blarney Castle; they also intended to view the coronation of Edward VII in June, but it was delayed when the future king became ill. Though Clara and Florence are well represented, Joshua Nichols wrote most of the letters, and filled them with proclamations of love and daily news; he frequently attached newspaper clippings. A photograph of Clara in Venice, a newspaper clipping, and a small woven bag are also included.


Emilie M. Bennett and Phoebe Baker Grand Tour diary, 1910

1 volume

The Emilie M. Bennett and Phoebe Baker Grand Tour diary chronicles a 1910 journey through England, Holland, Germany, Austria, and France.

The Emilie M. Bennett and Phoebe Baker Grand Tour diary chronicles a 1910 journey through England, Holland, Germany, Austria, and France. The diary, embossed with "My Trip Abroad" in gold on its cover, was presented to Emilie M. Bennett and Phoebe Baker by Margaret Burton on May 24, 1910, just prior to their Grand Tour of Europe. The volume contains supplemental information for overseas travelers, including color illustrations of semaphore and national flags, information on nautical terms and sailing, conversion charts for time and currency, a loose printed map of the world, and instructions on how to play shuffleboard, complete with a diagram. The authors added a list of hotels and of people they met during the trip. In the first entry, made on June 8-13, 1910, Emilie and Phoebe wrote about their experiences traveling to London on the Lusitania, and pasted in several printed illustrations. They wrote daily about social and sightseeing activities, including descriptions of scenery, hotels, and local food; the authors frequently visited art collections and attended musical and theatrical performances, and recorded general impressions of Europe. The two companions felt as if they "were really in a foreign land" from the time they were in London until they reached The Hague, Holland, and throughout the remainder of the trip to Germany, Austria, Hungary, and France. They returned to New York on the Oceanic in late September.


Helen Curtis Annan journal, 1840-1853

1 volume

This collection contains the journal of Helen Curtis Annan, which records notes on Presbyterian sermons and religious studies, as well as personal journal entries regarding the writer's travels and religious musings.

Helen used this volume as religious text book, journal, copy book, travel journal, and book list, and the result is a hodge podge of scattered entries. Chronic "indisposition and unsettled habits" add to the discontinuity of the volume as a whole, but there are still a few excellent parts; namely her record of Presbyterian sermons during and after the separation, her journal entries recording her struggles with religion, and a small travel journal recording her tour up the Mississippi to view the "natural" world and its "natural" inhabitants in the summer of 1845.

Initially, Helen used the volume to record outlines of the sermons and other religious addresses she heard at lectures, prayer meetings and bible classes. Typically she identified the pastor and the text on which the address was based. Often she also outlined the argument, and very occasionally she included her own opinions about the speaker's success, or some indication of her own state of mind -- "Attended church in the morning but my deep depression & intense anxiety prevented my retaining even the text" -- without any explanation. Helen kept this text book up on a fairly regular basis for over a decade.

Helen considered her textbook and her journal separate things, and she wrote journal entries throughout the rest of the volume without much regard for chronological order. Unfortunately she later cut out four pages on which she had apparently recorded her "disquietude" about something that at the time, had deeply affected her. In the next entry she wrote, "in reviewing what is there written I can't but wonder at the state of mind I then was in -- strange excitable being that I am" (1843 September 18). Many of Helen's entries deal with her constant personal strivings to be closer to God, and how this closeness often proved to be frustratingly elusive. Helen rarely even alluded to her husband, family or friends, and her primary emotional and intellectual relationship, at least as viewed through this volume, appears to have been with God.

The forty numbered penciled pages recording a quick trip up the Mississippi and back down again show that when she chose to be, Helen was as adept an observer of the physical world as she was of her spiritual condition. This travel journal also provides a fascinatingly detailed account of an early tourist jaunt to St. Anthony's Falls and Indian lands. Sadly, Helen wrote notes about English history over the first few pages, rendering the pencil illegible, but we catch up with her before she has gone too far up river. The steamboat's speed impressed the traveler, who commented, "I find it hard to keep pace with all the interesting scenes that crowd upon me" (pp. 12-13). She passed judgment on towns, houses, and islands as she passed them by, and described quick side trips on land and shipboard activities.

When the boat passed the Wisconsin border, things started to get real interesting: "we found ourselves beyond the reaches of civilization surrounded on both sides by the hunting grounds of the Indians" and fierce "moschettoes" [mosquitoes] (p. 15). First they came across Cassville, a white settlement already becoming a ghost town, and an Indian burial ground, which they investigated closely -- some too closely: "they must have been buried very shallow as several of the ladies whose curiosity led them to pry rather closely discovered an unpleasant effluvia" (p. 16). Each view from the river seemed more wild and beautiful than the last, and added to the scenery were a variety of Indian encampments, which the travelers visited as if they were living exhibits. At the first encampment, for instance, she wrote, "after satisfying our curiosity here were walked on & soon joined a more interesting group" (p. 21).

This first visit was to three tents occupied by Winnebagoes, who "presented a specimen of filth & poverty & degradation greater than I could imagine" (p. 19). Helen also observed great "delicacy of feeling" and many similarities with "civilized" people. A hand bag that caught one squaw's eye was passed among the Indians, while the visitors "stood grouped around them enjoying their evident pleasure" (p.22). Meanwhile, a drunken Indian had climbed a bluff and was prepared to hurl a log down on the intruders: "quick as thought the young [Winnebago] man darted up the hill and arrested his arm -- two of them held him to prevent his throwing at the same time making signs to us to withdraw -- we soon took the hint and made good our retreat" (p. 22).

When the boat arrived at Fort Snelling all of the public conveyances, needed to take them to the falls, were in use, so the party improved the time by touring the prison. They shook hands with some Sioux, "rigged out with eagle feathers & embroidered robes beads medals & painted faces," who had been accused of murdering a party of cattle drovers, but would probably be acquitted due to a lack of evidence (p.26). Helen was more deeply moved by the sight of these men than anything she had yet witnessed and "could not refrain from sheddings of deep commiseration for their vices and their degradation -- Far less guilty are they than their more enlightened oppressors" (p.27). Also in the prison were two Chippeways, being held (safely) hostage until the Chippeway who murdered a Sioux was produced and handed over to the dead man's tribe for trial -- possibly, Helen feared, to be "torn in pieces" ( p. 27).

The visit the falls of St. Anthony was not quite The Moment Helen had been anticipating -- being "surrounded by so much mirth and gaiety tending to check the feelings of sublime adoration and praise which the whole scene was calculated to awaken" -- but she soaked up as much sublimity as she could ( p. 30). Soon after, when she heard the Sabbath sermon dryly delivered, Helen was disappointed that the scenery had not "elevated the mind and fired the imagination" of the preacher (p. 35).

The passengers started to get irritated with Captain Backus for constantly hurrying them along, and were peeved when he broke his promise and turned around in the night, instead of taking the St. Croix River up to Lake Superior. Helen mentioned that they took tobacco in on one of the return stops, suggesting that the steamboat was transporting goods as well as forty-odd passengers, and that the commercial timetable was more compelling to the captain than the tourists' desires.

Victimized by the quicker homeward pace, the passengers only got half an hour to visit the Crow village of the Sioux. Helen was enchanted by a group of young women she met, and wanted very badly to take a young Sioux girl home with her, even though her shipmates "pronounced it a romantic whim and wondered at my taste" (p. 34). The steamboat speeded on toward St. Louis with few additional stops, and Helen was back home a mere ten days after departing, having traveled about 1700 miles.


Sophia McCormick diary, 1811, 1818

1 volume

This 72-page diary is an account of the five-month trip Sophia Cumming McCormick took with her uncle, aunt, and cousin from Savannah, Georgia, to New York City and along the East Coast in 1811. A second, shorter portion of the diary consists of nine entries from 1818, in which McCormick reflected on her spiritual state.

This 72-page diary is an account of the five-month trip Sophia Cumming McCormick took with her uncle, aunt, and cousin from Savannah, Georgia, to New York City and along the East Coast in 1811. A second, shorter portion of the diary consists of nine entries from 1818, in which McCormick reflected on her spiritual state.

The first 65 pages of the diary (May 22, 1811-November 4, 1811) contain daily entries chronicling McCormick's travel experiences. She recorded details about the geographic, physical, and historical features of the cities and towns she and her family visited or passed through. Her accounts of New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and Richmond are the most extensive, and include details about specific streets, buildings, and bridges. McCormick's descriptions of Charles Wilson Peale's natural history museum in Philadelphia (located in what is now the basement of Independence Hall) and the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., are particularly colorful.

McCormick's entries from July to September 1811, written while she attended Miss Scribner's School in Morristown, New Jersey, are often brief, though she commented more extensively about Fourth of July celebrations and recorded her thoughts about leaving the school. She also mentioned a Morristown funeral custom, a solar eclipse seen from Trenton, a visit to Thomas Jefferson's birthplace, public water supplies, a Gaelic-language sermon near Fayetteville, North Carolina. Throughout her travels, McCormick recorded the names of churches she attended, along with the ministers' names and sermon topics.

The second part of the diary (7 pages) consists of 9 entries dated between July 11, 1818, and November 1 [1818?]. In these entries, McCormick primarily reflected on her spiritual well-being. She appears to have been traveling during this span of time as well, staying with cousins near Augusta, Georgia.