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Margaret Russell’s Diary, July 1916

Today, we return to the line-a-day diary of Margaret Russell. You can read previous installments here:







One hundred years ago, the month of July was “very hot,” “close & hot,” and “fearfully hot,” broken occasionally by “very bad storm[s]” that turned the streets into rivers, thunder, and hail. Margaret Russell remained in Swampscott at the family estate, though her diary records nearly daily excursions throughout the region: North Andover, Revere, Lynn, Beverly, Arlington, South Natick, Nahant, Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Baldpate Mountain in Maine.

Aunt Emma will be a familiar figure in these diary entries to those of you who have been reading since January. On July 6th we learn that Aunt Emma is living in a “pleasant room” at a convent. A bit of digging in the diary reveals that the convent where Emma was located was in Arlington, and potentially the Episcopal order Sisters of St. Anne-Bethany, established in 1910.



“Mrs. Ward’s lectures” or “classes” have come up repeatedly in the diary and I did a bit of investigation on Mrs. Ward. Mary Alden Ward (1853-1918) was an author, lecturer, and leader in the women’s club movement in the Boston area and beyond. She wrote biographical sketches of historical figures such as Dante and Plutarch, as well as a book of New England history: Old Colony Days (1896). Mary Ward was married to William G. Ward, a professor of English literature at Emerson College. On a sad note, she was killed a mere eighteen months after this diary was penned, in January 1918, when an electric streetcar collided with the automobile in which she was riding to one of her speaking engagements.


* * *

July 1916*

1 July. Saturday - Lunched at N. Andover with the H.G.C’s. Lovely day. Miss McLuade gone on her vacation.

2 July. Sunday - Very hot. Walked to church and back. Rested after lunch. Edith & C. - only for dinner.

3 July. Monday - To town. Very close & hot. Very bad storm on Revere Beach coming home. Streets rivers & lots of hail. Saw Dr. Smith.

4 July. Tuesday - Stayed home all day. Rained. Telephone came that Richard had got home.

5 July. Wednesday - To town in the morning & back to lunch. Rested in P.M. dined at Beverly to see Richard.

6 July. Thursday - To see Aunt Emma at the convent. She seemed very happy & has a pleasant room.

7 July. Friday.

8 July. Saturday - Hot. Went to S. Natick for lunch with the H.G.C.’s. On to see Mrs. Hodder home by Weston & Waltham.

9 July. Sunday - Walked to church & back. Family to dine C. & R. both back.

10 July. Monday - Town for errands. Lunched with Marian. Went to Eye & Ear.

11 July. Tuesday - Nahant for Ward lecture.

12 July. Wednesday - Went to call on Miss Jewett at Nahant & on Mrs. Howe at Manchester. Very hot.

13 July. Thursday - Very hot. Went to Nahant to see F. Prince. Thunderstormed in. P.M.

14 July. Friday - Cool so went to town for E. & E. to see Dr. Washburn. Good Sam. & to Aunt Emma. Lunched at Chilton.

15 July. Saturday - Blais [illegible] so went with the H.G.C.’s to lunch at Baldpate & a drive. Lovely day.

16 July. Walked to church & back. Boat sailed race to Portsmouth & got 1st prize. Family to dine much pleased with day. Ellen & Nellie at Wareham.

17 July. Monday - Town for errands. Lunched with Marian. Home early.

18 July. Tuesday - Lynn errands in A.M. Mrs. Ward’s lecture. Sallie was brought over to see Mama.

19 July. Wednesday - Went to Hay Herbarium & home through Middlesex Fells.

20 July. Thursday -

21 July. Friday - Took Hattie L- over to call on Mrs. John Phillips.

22 July. Saturday - Went to Lawrence to call on Mary Parkman but did not see her. Then to N. Andover & lunched there. Hot & muggy.

23 July. Sunday - Raining hard. Walked to church & had a call from Margaret Swain afterwards. Family to dine - Monday [24 July] went to town.

25 July. Tuesday Mrs. Ward’s class. Miss A. came for me & went to Salem.

26 July. Wednesday - Marian & Sallie came down to lunch. I sent for [illegible] & sent them back. Walked with Miss A- to Phillip’s Marsh.

27 July. Thursday - To town to lunch with Susy Bradley who is in town working on M’s wedding announcements.

28 July. Friday - To Nahant to see F. P. after lunch Miss A- & I went for long drive hunting flowers with success.

29 July. Saturday - Lunched at Georgetown with the H.G.C.’s to Rowley afterward but did not find Paulie.

30 July. Sunday - Walked to church & home through the woods. Family to dine.

31 July. Monday - Fearfully hot. Took my trunks to town & spent night at Chilton. After thunderstorm comfortable night. Went to see Aunt E. in the P.M.


* * *

If you are interested in viewing the diary in person in our library or have other questions about the collection, please visit the library or contact a member of the library staff for further assistance.

*Please note that the diary transcription is a rough-and-ready version, not an authoritative transcript. Researchers wishing to use the diary in the course of their own work should verify the version found here with the manuscript original.


comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Friday, 15 July, 2016, 12:00 AM

Fathers of the American Navy: John Paul Jones and John Adams

On July 6, 1747, John Paul Jones was born in Scotland. He is widely credited as the father of the American Navy for his successful campaigns as a captain during Revolutionary War. It would be fair, however, to say that John Adams might deserve a share in that title as well. From his role in drafting the original rules for the Continental Navy in 1775 to his organization of the newly created Department of the Navy as president in 1798, Adams had been a strong advocate of “Floating Batteries and Wooden Walls” as the primary system of war and defense for the young nation.

Jones and Adams got to know each other in the late 1770s while Adams was in Europe, and no one who is familiar with the Adamses will be surprised to learn that both John, and later Abigail, formed strong opinions about Jones.

John Adams noted his impression in his diary entry for May, 13 1779: “This is the most ambitious and intriguing Officer in the American Navy. Jones has Art, and Secrecy, and aspires very high. . . . Excentricities, and Irregularities are to be expected from him— they are in his Character, they are visible in his Eyes. His Voice is soft and still and small, his Eye has keenness, and Wildness and Softness in it.”

Abigail met Jones when she joined John in Europe after the war had ended, but he was nothing like she had imagined the naval hero to be: “Chevalier Jones you have heard much of. He is a most uncommon Character. I dare Say you would be as much dissapointed in him as I was. From the intrepid Character he justly Supported in the American Navy, I expected to have seen a Rough Stout warlike Roman. Instead of that, I should sooner think of wraping him up in cotton wool and putting him into my pocket, than sending him to contend with Cannon Ball,” she wrote. “He is small of stature, well proportioned, soft in his Speach easy in his address polite in his manners, vastly civil, understands all the Etiquette of a Ladys Toilite as perfectly as he does the Masts Sails and rigging of a Ship. Under all this appearence of softness he is Bold enterprizing ambitious and active.”


While they did not become close friends, John Paul Jones did offer JA his bust, and to the end of his life, JA remembered Jones as intelligent, a good letter writer, and “gentlemanly in his dress & manner.” As both men regarded the American Navy as central to the success of the nation, Adams never failed to respect Jones’ naval ability or the “glorious success” of Jones’ famous capture of the British frigate Serapis, for which the Continental Congress awarded Jones a medal, the first to commemorate a naval victory. A restrike of that medal is housed within the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society. 


comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Wednesday, 6 July, 2016, 12:00 AM

The Lynn Shoemakers’ Strike of 1860

The MHS just acquired a letter written by an eyewitness to the historic shoemakers’ strike in Lynn, Mass. in 1860. I decided to dig into the story and, as usually happens, learned much more than I anticipated. It’s remarkable how much history can be represented in a single document.



Moses Folger Rogers (1803-1886) was a Quaker living in Lynn. Most of his 6 March 1860 letter to John Ford of Marshfield, Mass. is dedicated to the biggest story in town, the shoemakers’ strike then underway. Lynn was a major center for the manufacture of shoes. Labor unrest in that industry had been growing for many reasons—increased mechanization, market glut, the economic crisis of 1857—all of which resulted in record low wages.

Workers took to the streets on George Washington’s birthday, 22 February 1860, and the strike lasted for several weeks. Newspapers covered it extensively, and many historians have written about it, but it’s hard to overstate the value of first-hand accounts like this one.

Rogers was not pleased. He lamented the “agitated & excited state of this community.” A week before, it had appeared “that it might be thought necessary to call out the malitia to quell the mob, but with the additional Police force, which came from Boston, order & quiet were restored without the aid of the malitia, a fact for which I feel very grateful, for I feared there might be blood shed – every thing here is now very orderly & quiet, though the ‘Strikers’ continue to hold on, to the number of from 2500 to 3000 persons and what will be the final result remains to be known.”

There had been some violence, including clashes with police and seizures of goods. But it subsided after the first few days, and the rest of the strike consisted of meetings, marches, rallies, and other demonstrations of peaceful solidarity. It was the largest strike in American history up to that time, spreading across New England and involving tens of thousands of workers.

But it wasn’t just the possibility of bloodshed that worried Moses Rogers. He was also dismayed by the active involvement of women in the uprising. In fact, the Lynn strike was notable for the vital role women played in both planning and execution. It makes sense—women were integral to the shoemaking industry. They worked at home as “binders,” or hand stitchers, or operated sewing machines in factories. In his book Class and Community, Alan Dawley wrote: “Without the action of women, it is questionable whether the strike would have occurred at all, and certainly without them it would have been far less massive in its impact.”

But Rogers described these developments in a horrified tone with lots of outraged underlining: “In addition to the above number there is a strike amongst the Ladies, who I understand propose parading the streets tomorrow to the number 2000.” The march did happen, and in dramatic fashion. Thousands participated, including 800 women, in the midst of a snowstorm. Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper published an illustration.


Rogers finished his diatribe with a flourish: “I will not undertake to give an account of the disgraceful & shameful deeds enacted in this city since the Strike commenced, suffice it to say that I never witnessed anything in my life which appeared so appaling & fearful.” His response to the strike was not atypical, judging by newspaper accounts. But the strikers had substantial support from townspeople, Lynn’s Bay State newspaper, and even Abraham Lincoln, who was campaigning for president at the time. (The shoemakers’ demonstrations, protest songs, and slogans were infused with antislavery rhetoric.)

Although the Lynn strikers had some temporary political success, ousting most of the city government in the next election, they ultimately failed as negotiations fell apart and workers’ differences proved insurmountable. When the Civil War broke out a year later, attention shifted away from the issue, and war-time demand for manufactures accelerated. However, the Lynn shoemakers’ strike was a watershed moment in American history, remarkable for its size and scope, a clash of old and new systems that foreshadowed labor disputes of the next 150 years.


Select sources:
- Dawley, Alan. Class and Community: The Industrial Revolution in Lynn. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1976.
- Faler, Paul G. Mechanics and Manufacturers in the Early Industrial Revolution: Lynn, Massachusetts, 1780-1860. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1981.
- Juravich, Tom, William F. Hartford, and James R. Green. Commonwealth of Toil: Chapters in the History of Massachusetts Workers and Their Unions. Amherst, Mass.: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996.
- Lewis, Alonzo and James R. Newhall. History of Lynn, Essex County, Massachusetts: Including Lynnfield, Saugus, Swampscot, and Nahant. Boston: John L. Shorey, 1865.
- Melder, Keith E. “Women in the Shoe Industry: The Evidence from Lynn.” Essex Institute Historical Collections 115.4 (October 1979): 270-287.


comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Wednesday, 29 June, 2016, 12:00 AM

Retail and Romance: Boston's First Department Store

Behind this façade
lies a story – the romance of a great
New England institution
It is worth telling. It should be
worth reading
In the hope that the public 
may find it so, it is
here set down


In reading this verse and examining the accompanying sketch, you may be surprised to learn that the “great New England institution” referenced is, in fact, a department store. Strange as it might seem today, department stores were highly influential in shaping urban spaces and changing how the consumer industry was run in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. By incorporating an unprecedented variety and quantity of apparel, home goods, and entertaining diversions, and showcasing these items in vast, high-ceilinged and well-lit halls, department stores lent glamour to the middle-class shopping experience.

The above inscription is an excerpt from the book, Retail and romance, which recounts the history of Jordan Marsh & Company, the first, and for a long time, the most prominent department store in Boston. Struck by the intriguing title and the compelling case made by its author, Julia Houston Railey, I decided to explore the history of Jordan Marsh.


Railey’s story begins in 1841, when Eben Jordan, the founder of Jordan Marsh, established his first store at the age of 19. At this time, Jordan also conducted his first sale, which consisted of “one yard of cherry colored hair ribbon,” sold to Louisa Bareiss, a young girl, who, according to Railey, was just as breathless with excitement over the purchase as Jordan himself (9). This story is depicted pictorially in this publication as well as the centennial Tales of the Observer by Richard H. Edwards, published in 1950. Jordan’s famous sideburns are present in both imaginings.

In 1851, Jordan partnered with Benjamin L. Marsh and in 1880, they established Jordan Marsh’s Main Store at 450 Washington Street, where it would remain for the next 100 years. An 1884 article in the Boston Post referred to this establishment as “the most colossal store the world ever saw, surpassing by far anything that had been attempted either in New York or Philadelphia” (The story of a store, 4).

Railey’s book also discusses the continued philanthropic efforts of the Jordan family, particularly those of Jordan’s son, Eben Jordan, Jr., who was particularly active in the arts community. Jordan, Jr. built the Boston Opera House, founded Jordan Hall for the New England Conservatory, and installed art exhibits at the Main Store on Washington Street (22).

Whereas Retail and romance focuses on the romantic aspects of Jordan’s humble beginnings and subsequent charitable endeavors, The story of a store, published by the Jordan Marsh Company in 1912, captures the glamorous nature of early department stores. This publication is filled with glossy black-and-white photos and descriptions of the innumerable goods contained in each department of Jordan’s store.


This set of images showcases several large glass display cases in the women’s department, containing from top to bottom: handkerchiefs, gloves, laces, and neckwear. However, commodities of all kinds were sold at Jordan Marsh. To name a few: umbrellas, children’s apparel, jewelry, silverware, eyeglasses, toiletries, books, leather goods, upholstery, rugs, stationary, luggage, kitchen goods, hardware, garden tools, and toys.

Like some of the best department stores of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Jordan Marsh also offered a variety of services for patrons, including store credit (a new concept at the time), personal services like a Post Office, Telegraph and Cable Station, and Waiting Rooms, complete with “easy chairs, writing materials, newspapers, check-rooms, lavatories, and other necessary conveniences for customers” (28)


Today, 450 Washington Street, formerly the site of Jordan Marsh’s Main Store, is occupied by Macy’s. Although the Jordan Marsh Company continued to thrive and expand throughout much of the twentieth century, it was eventually bought out and replaced by the larger company entirely by 1996.

This story is not an uncommon one in the business world. Massachusetts Historical Society has a number of records that provide insight into the former business and commercial world of Boston. Perhaps you may discover a former company or store, similarly overlooked or forgotten today.




comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Friday, 24 June, 2016, 10:28 AM

Transcription Challenge, Round 2

A few weeks ago here on the Beehive I posted an image of a medieval document (here and here) with the hope that someone out there would be able to make sense of it and provide us with some information. What I thought would be a longshot turned out to be a wonderful display of crowdsourced transcription and translation, thanks in no small part to the Boston Globe, who took the image and ran with it. We even got responses from the UK which provided geographic context for the contents of the item. All in all, it was a great result!

So now I am back with another challenge. This time, the document is written in Spanish and the penciled date written by a cataloger here at the MHS at some time in the past is "1474? Jan. 12."

Since my Spanish is slightly better than my Latin I decided to take a stab at transcribing this one as best I could. Below is what I came up with along with a couple of images of the document. Words that appear in [brackets] are words that I am unsure about. Spots that only contain underscoring _____ are words that I had no clue about. 

While I think I made a decent go of it, the writing style and letter forms, along with possibly outmoded means of spelling, made it difficult. This is a sloppy transcription, at best, so please be gentle!

Can anyone out there step up and help us out this time? If you think you can fill in any blanks - or correct my many errors - please do! You can leave any comments at the bottom of the page or e-mail us at, using the subject line Spanish Blog.


Front of the Document [Hold Ctrl and press + to zoom in]

Muy ynclito duque nuestro muy caro primo  Nos 
la princesa de castilla y de leon Reyna de _____ princesa de aragon. 
[Vos enbiamos] mucho sa-

ludat como aquel {that one} que mucho amamos y preciamos por pero 
ocho a [debeci] nuestro vasallo y _____ dela nuestra villa de bilbao 
que es encl nuestro condado 

senorio de viscaya nos es fecha relacion que encl mes de otubre 
proximo pasado. llego con [vna nao] suya y de sancho yuanco de laris 
patron della encl 

puerto de la abdat de genoua el dicho sancho yuanes detaris su 
cun~ado. la qual [yua] cargada de atun y de otras 
mercadurias para las descargar en la 

dicha [abdat]. A que en la dicha nao yuan fusta nouenta  
[onbres] marcantes asi mesmo vasallos nuestros. los quales como` 
llegaron encl puerto y muelle 

dela dicha abdat. luego en continente entraron en la dicha nao las 
____ della poderosamente y prendieron al dicho patron sanchoyuanes de 

y lo enbiaron preso [avucstro] poder y que lo teneys preso y que esto 
asi fecho [sacaron] dela dicha nao las velas y vergas todos los otros 
a [parclos] armas

y artilleri`a que en ella [ama] y lo lleuaron ala ducha abdat de 
genoua con mas las mercaderias cayas ropas armas y prouisiones 
[provisions] que en la dicha nao esta

uan. Creo nos fecha saber que la causa por que eso [sefizo] y con ___ 
fue por que ___ de la ____ prendio [dossesenderos] vuestros y que 
fusta aquellos [secr]

libres ___ entendeys de soltar al dicho patron ___ menos restituyr 
les la dicha nao con las cosas suso dichas O si esto asics nos 
maravyllamos mucho

que por esta razon nuestros vasallos ayan deseer veyados y 
[purificados] de tal manera mayor mente leyendo el dicho vohan de las 
cano de la pro-

vincia de [grypusova]de quien continua mente nuestros vasallos del 
dicho nuestro condado y senorio de viscaya son fatigados y mal 
tratados yndemida-

mente. O por que nestro deseo ha leydo y es de vos agradar y con 
plazer en todo lo que pudieremos y que los genouesesy otras personas 
estrangeras de 

vuestras tierras que al dicho nuestro condado v____ gran honreados 
bien tratados y favorecidos como es razon. Por [endo] afectuosamente 

rogamos que por contenplacion nuestra delibreys al dicho patron 
sancho yuanes de la prision en que esta y [la fagayo] enteramente 
restituyr la 

dicha [nao] con todas las cosas suso dichas que enella yuan. O asi 
mesmo [hemyenda] y satisfacion de todos los [dapnos] y costas que por 
esta causa ___

les han _____ de manera que el que de satisfecho y contento do todo 
ello lo qual sin duda vos ternemos en singular ___ de cimiento i nos 

por ello ___ para mirar con toda buena voluntad por el honor i favor 
vuestro i de todas vuestras cosas por queeste es nuestrodeseo de la 
muy noble

_____ de seg__  __ XI dias de enero del xx mi anos

Back of the Document -- Note the clear watermark of a down-turned hand and star.

comments: 1 | permalink | Published: Friday, 17 June, 2016, 11:46 AM

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