COLLECTION GUIDES

1884-1950; bulk: 1922-1950

Guide to the Collection

Restrictions on Access

The Theodore Sedgwick (1863-1951) diaries are stored offsite and must be requested at least one business day in advance. Contact the Library at library@masshist.org or (617) 536-1608 to request materials. Please discuss your request with the reading room staff before requesting cartons by barcode.


Collection Summary

Abstract

This collection consists of diaries kept by Rev. Theodore Sedgwick of New York, Rome, and Sharon, Conn. during voyages to Europe; as rector of St. Paul's American Church in Rome; and during his retirement years. Entries record Sedgwick's views on Italian politics and culture during the Fascist revolution and World War II, daily activities, accounts of trips throughout the United States and Europe, family news and events, and personal reminiscences. Also included with the diaries are newsclippings, correspondence, photographs, postcards, and other memorabilia.

Restrictions on Access

The Theodore Sedgwick (1863-1951) diaries are stored offsite and must be requested at least one business day in advance. Contact the Library at library@masshist.org or (617) 536-1608 to request materials. Please discuss your request with the reading room staff before requesting cartons by barcode.

Acquisition Information

The Theodore Sedgwick (1863-1951) diaries were donated by Emily Bagwill and Catherine Sanders in October 2008.

Biographical Sketch

Born in Stockbridge, Mass. on 2 August 1863 to Henry Dwight and Henrietta Ellery Sedgwick, Theodore Sedgwick graduated from Harvard College in 1886 and from the Berkeley Divinity School in Middleton, Conn., in 1890. Following his ordination at St. Paul's Church in Stockbridge in 1890, he served at St. George's Church in New York City (1890-1894); St. John's Church in Williamstown, Mass. (1894-1900); the Church of St. John the Evangelist in St. Paul, Minn. (1900-1911); Calvary Episcopal Church in New York City (1911-1924); and St. Andrew's Memorial Church in Yonkers, New York (1924-1930). From 1930 to 1934, Sedgwick served as rector of St. Paul's American Church in Rome. In retirement, he traveled extensively between New York, Massachusetts, Virginia, Florida, and his home in Sharon, Conn., visiting his children, brothers, and friends. He was active in both the Century and Harvard Club in New York City, and attended annual Harvard College commencements until well into his eighties. Known to his family as "Teedy," he married Mary Aspinwall Bend (1878-1963) of St. Paul, Minn. in May 1903, and they had four children: Theodore (1904-1974); Edith Ludlow (1906-1972); Harold Bend (1908-2000); and Charles (1912-1983). Sedgwick died in Sharon on 22 May 1951 at the age of 87.

Collection Description

The diaries of Rev. Theodore Sedgwick consist of 46 loose-leaf volumes. Chronicling numerous European voyages and trips throughout the United States, as well as Sedgwick's daily life in Rome, New York, Florida, and Sharon, Connecticut, they include newspaper clippings, postcards, photographs, letters, programs, brochures, and other mementos that have been pasted on pages opposite related text. The diaries are typed unless otherwise noted.

With the exception of the 1884 notebook, which Sedgwick wrote when he was twenty years old, the diaries were originally composed as informal letters to his family while he was abroad. In his article "Good Weaving: The Happy Values of Increasing Years," published in The Evangel in March 1949, Sedgwick explained, "For a number of years my ministry was in Italy, which meant a divided family. A daily record, type-written with carbons, one to each member of the family across the sea, held us together. The weekly letters went then, and have not stopped since to keep alive the bond created by the daily happenings, which although of slight moment, yet tell of thoughts and reading, of church-going and gatherings, of political rallies and candidates, of friends and all that happens in intimate associations. One copy I have always kept and its pages were bound, at first in alluring Italian leather covers, but now in simpler form. Against the pages I insert newspaper items, of which I have made mention, and at least these clippings form a history of importance."

The 1884 notebook and volumes 3-5 are essentially travel diaries that chronicle ocean voyages to Europe with various members of Sedgwick's family. Volumes 1 and 2 recount Sedgwick's initial one-year assignment as rector of St. Paul's American Church in Rome, as well as his travels throughout Italy and Europe. Beginning with volume 6, as he returns to serve at St. Paul's in Rome in 1930, Sedgwick begins regular journal-keeping, typing several pages each day for almost twenty years. These diaries eventually total 7,044 numbered pages compiled into two volumes per year. Although the later diaries are largely filled with routine details of daily life, family news, social engagements, dinners, gardening, weather, health issues, and book reviews, the diaries written in Rome (vols. 6-13) contain many observations of the well-to-do American community in Rome, as well as comments on Italian politics and culture. Also of note are Sedgwick's changing impressions of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, and the numerous newsclippings relating to the Italian revolution and World War II.

Within his daily writings, as well as with the printed material he added to his journals, Sedgwick includes much information about his children and their families, particularly the career of his son Harold Bend Sedgwick within the Episcopal church, and the acting and teaching career of his son Charles Sedgwick. Other clippings, articles, and printed matter relate to the writing and publishing careers of his brothers, Henry Dwight Sedgwick (1861-1957) and Ellery Sedgwick (1872-1960). Volume 39 contains a series of family correspondence and papers (1881-1917) that Sedgwick included as a keepsake because of its significance to him.

Arrangement

Beginning with his September 1922 journal, Sedgwick numbered his diaries from 1 to 45. This arrangement has been kept, and the original page numbers of the volumes are included in the descriptions of each diary. Due to their poor physical condition, the binders of several volumes have been removed, and the pages have been placed in folders. Loose items found within the volumes have been placed in folders and are stored in the same carton as the volumes from which they were removed.

Detailed Description of the Collection

Box 1SH 17L6 . Folder 1
Journal of voyage on S. S. Nebraska,19 June - 3 July 1884

This small handwritten notebook was written by 20-year-old Sedgwick during his first Atlantic crossing to Glasgow with his sister Jane. Two-thirds of the notebook is blank.

Box 1SH 17L6 . Folders 2-16
Volume 1, 14 September - 31 December 1922

This diary describes Sedgwick's experiences as he leaves New York for a year's appointment as rector of St. Paul's American Church in Rome. Sedgwick recounts his sea voyage, sightseeing trips, adjustments to life in Italy, observations of American society in Rome, and Roman customs, including funerals and Christmas celebrations. He also mentions Mussolini and a Fascist parade (pp. 40-41). The diary contains numerous postcards and panoramic photos of Italy.

Box 1SH 17L6 .Folders 17-31
Volume 2, 1 January - 3 September 1923

This volume chronicles the second half of Sedgwick's experiences in Rome and his subsequent tour of Europe, and includes family photos (pp. 298-299).

Box 1SH 17L6 .Folder 32
"A Year's Exchange Abroad," October 1924

Delivered by Sedgwick in October 1924 "before the Club," this essay discusses his experience in Rome in 1922-23, and describes his impressions of Mussolini and the Italian Revolution.

Box 2SH 17L7 Folders 1-11
Volume 3, 4 July - 14 September 1925

This handwritten "Journal of our Trip to Europe" describes Sedgwick's voyage to Europe with his son Harold. The trip included stops in the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, and Great Britain.

Box 2SH 17L7 Folders 12-27
Volume 4, 2 July - 13 September 1926

This handwritten diary describes Sedgwick's voyage to Europe with his wife and four children. It includes descriptions of France, Monaco, the Alps, and England, and contains postcards, family photos, ships' menus, passenger lists, and other souvenirs.

Carton 1SH 17LA +
Volume 5, 9 March - 3 June 1929

Chronicling Sedgwick's voyage to Europe with his son Charles and brother Ellery, this handwritten journal includes descriptions of Spain, Italy, Monte Carlo, Greece, Yugoslavia, and Paris.

Carton 1SH 17LA +Folder 1
Loose items removed from Volume 5, 1929
Carton 1SH 17LA +
Volume 6, 19 September - 1 January 1931

This volume describes Sedgwick's voyage to Rome with his son Harold as he returns to serve as rector of St. Paul's American Church. It recounts Sedgwick's efforts to establish the church, social activities, household details, and news from home. It also contains interesting observations of the daily life of well-to-do Americans in Rome. This is the first of 40 consecutive volumes in which Sedgwick types daily observations. It contains pages 1-185.

Carton 1SH 17LA +Folder 2
Loose items removed from Volume 6, 1930
Carton 1SH 17LA +
Volume 7, 1 January - 15 June 1931

This volume (pp. 186-457) includes Sedgwick's experiences in Rome, trips to Sicily, Florence, and Venice, the arrival of Sedgwick's wife Mary, and their return to the United States for the summer.

Carton 1SH 17LA +Folder 3
Loose items removed from Volume 7, 1931
Carton 1 SH 17LA +
Volume 8, 16 June - 31 December 1931

This volume (pp. 458-753) contains descriptions of Sedgwick's summer trips to New York and New Hampshire, as well as to Harvard College for commencement weekend. It also describes the wedding of Sedgwick's son Theodore, and Sedgwick's return to Rome in September. It briefly mentions economic conditions in the United States and Europe.

Carton 1SH 17LA +Folder 4
Loose items removed from Volume 8, 1931
Carton 1SH 17LA +
Volume 9, 1 January - 30 June 1932

Written in Rome, this volume (pp. 754-1003) contains numerous clippings relating to Mussolini and Fascism, including a series of photomechanical prints entitled "Views of the Fascist Revolution." Sedgwick refers to difficult financial conditions in Rome, and discusses the family's reaction to the kidnapping the Lindbergh baby, whose mother is a family friend. It contains several family photographs, including those of granddaughter Emily (p. 906) and Sedgwick himself (pp. 953, 955, 974, 996).

Carton 1SH 17LA +Folder 5
Loose items removed from Volume 9, 1932
Carton 1 SH 17LA +
Volume 10, 2 July - 30 December 1932

This journal (pp. 1004-1241) includes descriptions of air raid drills in Rome, celebrations of the tenth anniversary of Fascist rule, and Sedgwick's trip to Capri. It contains several photomechanical prints of Mussolini, the Fascist party, and related subjects, as well as a photo of Sedgwick with his granddaughter Emily (p. 1197).

Carton 1SH 17LA +Folders 6-7
Loose items removed from Volume 10, 1932
Carton 2SH 17LB %Folders 1-15
Volume 11, 1 January - 2 July 1933

Written in Rome, this volume (pp. 1242-1466) includes descriptions and clippings relating to the 60th anniversary celebrations of St. Paul's Church, Sedgwick's meeting with Mussolini (p. 1290), Mussolini's visit to the American Academy, American financial conditions, and Franklin Roosevelt's election and inauguration. It also contains photos of Sedgwick and his wife Mary (pp. 1267, 1291, 1383, 1385).

Carton 2SH 17LB %
Volume 12, 2 July - 31 December 1933

This volume (pp. 1467-1684) contains several references to Mussolini, his 50th birthday, and the 12th anniversary of the Fascist Revolution. Sedgwick also mentions political and economic conditions in the United States, as well the purchase his new home in Sharon, Conn. An article describing Sedgwick's audience with Mussolini is pasted opposite page 1486.

Carton 2SH 17LB %
Volume 13, 1 January - 30 June 1934

In this volume (pp. 1685-1918), Sedgwick describes leaving his position in Rome, the death of his sister-in-law Lily, and returning to Sharon, Conn. to live. He includes articles and letters related to his retirement from the Roman church.

Carton 2SH 17LB %Folder 16
Loose items removed from Volume 13, 1934
Carton 2SH 17LB %
Volume 14, 1 July - 31 December 1934

This journal (pp. 1919-2102), written in Sharon, includes Sedgwick's reflections on daily life in retirement, as well as observations on politics and society. It also contains news of daughter Edith's engagement, and a Christmas poem written by Sedgwick's brother Henry.

Carton 2SH 17LB %Folders 17-18
Loose items removed from Volume 14, 1934
Carton 2SH 17LB %
Volume 15, 1 January - 30 June 1935

In this volume (pp. 2103-2274), Sedgwick discusses planning the wedding of his daughter, Edith, the Lindbergh trial, and various trips along the east coast. Scrapbook items include a wedding invitation, a letter from the White House declining an invitation to the wedding, Sedgwick's own wedding announcement (1903), a program from Sedgwick's installation as rector of Calvary Church (1911) and other mementos.

Carton 2SH 17LB %Folder 19
Loose items removed from Volume 15, 1935
Carton 2SH 17LB %
Volume 16, 1 July - 31 December 1935

This volume (pp. 2275-2445) was written in Sharon, and primarily discusses family matters. Sedgwick also briefly discusses his impressions of American and Italian politics.

Carton 2SH 17LB %Folder 20
Loose items removed from Volume 16, 1935
Carton 3SH 17LC 0
Volume 17, 1 January - 30 June 1936

Included in this volume (pp. 2448-2644) are Sedgwick's descriptions of trips to Richmond, Virginia, a cruise to South America, Panama and California, sightseeing in California and impressions of Charles' new career in Hollywood, a train trip to Chicago via the Grand Canyon, Harold's ordination, and the birth of granddaughter Pamela. A photograph of Charles appears opposite page 2498.

Carton 3SH 17LC 0Folder 1
Loose items removed from Volume 17, 1936
Carton 3SH 17LC 0
Volume 18, 1 July - 31 December 1936

This volume (pp. 2645-2851) contains descriptions of weather and gardening, news of family and friends, visits with family, and trips to Maine, New Hampshire, Quebec, Richmond, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Carton 3SH 17LC 0Folder 2
Loose items removed from Volume 18, 1936
Carton 3SH 17LC 0
Volume 19, 1 January - 30 June 1937

Included in this volume (pp. 2852-3067) are descriptions of Sedgwick's extended vacation in Tucson, having tea with actress Olivia deHaviland in Hollywood, and his cruise to Italy with Harold. Sedgwick also discusses the death of his sister-in-law Mabel Sedgwick. It includes many family letters, photos of Sedgwick and son Harold (pp. 2987, 3021), and photos of his home in Sharon (pp. 3054-3057).

Carton 3SH 17LC 0Folder 3
Loose items removed from Volume 19, 1937
Carton 3SH 17LC 0
Volume 20, 1 July - 31 December 1937

This volume (pp. 3068-3242) was written in Sharon and New York City, and mentions recent events such as Amelia Earhart's disappearance. Many clippings and mementos are annotated in Sedgwick's hand.

Carton 3SH 17LC 0Folder 4
Loose items removed from Volume 20, 1937
Carton 3SH 17LC 0
Volume 21, 1 January - 30 June 1938

This journal (pp. 3243-3440) begins in New York City, and includes descriptions of Sedgwick's trips to Savannah, Florida, Charleston, and Richmond, as well as a narrative of Harvard commencement activities. Scrapbook items include a 1918 obituary of Sedgwick's sister Jane Ricciardi, and an 1878 letter from Sedgwick to his brother Henry, written in Latin.

Carton 3SH 17LC 0Folder 5
Loose items removed from Volume 21, 1938
Carton 3SH 17LC 0
Volume 22, 1 July - 31 December 1938

This volume (pp. 3441-3631) includes Sedgwick's observations on Franklin Roosevelt's radio addresses and the 1938 hurricane. It also contains numerous newspaper clippings of current events, particularly relating to Hitler and the impending war.

Carton 3SH 17LC 0Folders 6-7
Loose items removed from Volume 22, 1938
Carton 4SH 17LD 1
Volume 23, 1 January - 30 June 1939

In this journal (pp. 3632-3796), Sedgwick describes his trips to Florida, Charleston, Brookline, Mass., and New York. Sedgwick discusses FDR and political events, and includes many newspaper clippings relating to FDR, Hitler, and Mussolini.

Carton 4SH 17LD 1Folder 1
Loose items removed from Volume 23, 1939
Carton 4SH 17LD 1
Volume 24, 1 July - 31 December 1939

Written in Sharon, this journal (pp. 3797-3956) discusses Sharon's 200th anniversary, Hitler and the war, and family activities. It includes photos of Sedgwick and his wife (p. 3824).

Carton 4SH 17LD 1Folders 2-4
Loose items removed from Volume 24, 1939
Carton 4SH 17LD 1
Volume 25, 1 January - 30 June 1940

This volume (pp. 3957-4123) describes Sedgwick's trips to Florida, Richmond, New York, and Massachusetts to visit his friends and family. Sedgwick discusses his disillusionment with Mussolini's policies. Also included are many telegrams and articles relating to the 50th anniversary of Sedgwick's ordination at St. John's Church in Williamstown. A 1915 photograph of Sedgwick appears opposite page 3957.

Carton 4SH 17LD 1Folders 5-12
Loose items removed from Volume 25, 1940
Carton 4SH 17LD 1Folders 13-23
Volume 26, 1 July - 31 December 1940

Included in this volume (pp. 4125-4292) are descriptions of Sedgwick's trip to St. Paul, his interest in the 1940 presidential election, and visits to Massachusetts, Virginia, and Florida.

Carton 5SH 17LE 2Folders 1-12
Volume 27, 1 January - 30 June 1941

This volume (pp. 4293-4473) includes Sedgwick's reminiscences about his brother Alexander (Alick), opinions about the war in Europe and the draft, and descriptions of his trips to Florida and Massachusetts. Photos of Sedgwick appear opposite page 4388.

Carton 5SH 17LE 2
Volume 28, 1 July - 31 December 1941

This volume (pp. 4474-4645) was written in Sharon, New York, and Florida. Sedgwick only briefly discusses Pearl Harbor, but the volume includes several newspaper clippings related to it.

Carton 5SH 17LE 2Folder 13
Loose items removed from Volume 28, 1941
Carton 5SH 17LE 2
Volume 29, 1 January - 30 June 1942

In this journal (pp. 4646-4815) Sedgwick recounts his trips to Florida, Tryon, North Carolina, and the Harvard Club in New York City.

Carton 5SH 17LE 2Folders 14-15
Loose items removed from Volume 29, 1942
Carton 5SH 17LE 2
Volume 30, 1 July-31 December 1942

This journal (pp. 4816-4978) was written in Sharon, New York, and Brookline, Mass. Family photos of Sedgwick, his mother Netta, and his wife Mary appear opposite pages 4866 and 4970.

Carton 5SH 17LE 2Folders 16-19
Loose items removed from Volume 30, 1942

These folders include photographs of Sedgwick.

Carton 6SH 17G9 Z
Volume 31, 1 January - 30 June 1943

This volume (pp. 4979-5141) was written in Brookline, Mass., Orlando, Fla., Richmond and Annapolis. Included are reminiscences about Sedgwick's brother Alick and other family members (p. 5001).

Carton 6SH 17G9 ZFolder 1
Loose items removed from Volume 31, 1943
Carton 6SH 17G9 Z
Volume 32, 1 July - 31 December 1943

Written in Sharon, Florida, and New York, this volume (pp. 5142-5281) includes news of the war, Sedgwick's 80th birthday celebration, and family reminiscences (p. 5218).

Carton 6SH 17G9 ZFolders 2-4
Loose items removed from Volume 32, 1943
Carton 6SH 17G9 Z
Volume 33, 1 January - 30 June 1944

Written primarily in Florida and New York, this volume (pp. 5282-5429) includes about fifty pages of Sedgwick's handwritten memoir "Persons and Places."

Carton 6SH 17G9 ZFolders 5-7
Loose items removed from Volume 33, 1944
Carton 6SH 17G9 Z
Volume 34, 1 July - 31 December 1944

This volume (pp. 5430-5600) was written in Sharon and New York.

Carton 6SH 17G9 ZFolders 8-9
Loose items removed from Volume 34, 1944
Box 3SH 17L8 $Folders 1-9
Volume 35, 1 January - 30 June 1945

This volume (pp. 5601-5762) was written in New York and Sharon. It includes a description of Sedgwick's new weaving hobby, as well as many newspaper clippings related to the deaths of FDR, Hitler, and the end of the war.

Box 3SH 17L8 $Folders 10-17
Volume 36, 1 July - 31 December 1945

Included in this volume (pp. 5763-5917) are newspaper clippings related to the Japanese surrender, photographs of Sedgwick's son Harold (p. 5774), and correspondence with William F. Buckley, Sr. regarding a lawsuit between Buckley's family and the Episcopal rector in Sharon.

Box 4SH 17L9 /Folders 1-7
Volume 37, 1 January - 30 June 1946

In his volume (pp. 5919-6040) Sedgwick discusses his trips to New York and Brookline, and his observations about the Boston Marathon. Included also are reminiscences about Sedgwick's brother Alick and his illnesses, and letters from Sedgwick's grandchildren.

Box 4SH 17L9 /Folders 8-16
Volume 38, 1 July - 31 December 1946

This journal (pp. 6041-6184) was written in Sharon, Richmond, and Tryon, North Carolina.

Carton 7SH 17GA -
Volume 39, 1 January - 30 June 1947

This journal (pp. 6185-6308) was written in Tryon, North Carolina, Richmond, New York, and Sharon.

Carton 7SH 17GA -Folders 1-2
Loose items removed from Volume 39, 1947

These folders contain family correspondence and papers that, according to Sedgwick's journal, are of particular significance to him. They include letters from his father and brother Harry (1881-1886) concerning his schooling and career, an 1895 letter from Sedgwick's future sister-in-law May Minturn, a 1917 letter from Sedgwick's sister Jane, a copy of his father's will (1902) and a typescript of "Remembrances of Mr. Henry D. Sedgwick (II) as told by Mrs. Francis Child, Christmas, 1905."

Carton 7SH 17GA -
Volume 40, 1 July - 31 December 1947

This volume (pp. 6309-6435) discusses Sedgwick's trips to the family home in Stockbridge and to Brookline. It includes photos of Sedgwick, his wife and children ca. 1910 (p. 6309).

Carton 7SH 17GA -Folder 4
Loose items removed from Volume 40, 1947
Carton 7SH 17GA -
Volume 41, 1 January - 30 June 1948

This volume (pp. 6436-6568) was written in Massachusetts, Washington DC, and Sharon.

Carton 7SH 17GA -Folder 5
Loose items removed from Volume 41, 1948
Carton 7SH 17GA -
Volume 42, 1 July - 31 December 1948

Written in Sharon, Massachusetts, and Washington DC, this volume (pp. 6570-6708) includes many of Sedgwick's childhood memories and reminiscences of the house where he was born in Stockbridge.

Carton 7SH 17GA -Folders 6-9
Loose items removed from Volume 42, 1948
Carton 7SH 17GA -
Volume 43, 1 January - 30 June 1949

Written in Massachusetts, New York City, and Sharon, this volume (pp. 6709-6837) includes a March 1949 copy of The Evangel, containing Sedgwick's article "Good Weaving: the Happy Values of Increasing Years."

Carton 7SH 17GA -
Volume 44, 1 July - 31 December 1949

This volume (pp. 6838-6969) was written in Sharon, and includes a 1948 photograph of Sedgwick opposite page 6838.

Carton 7SH 17GA -Folder 10
Loose items removed from Volume 44, 1949
Carton 7SH 17GA -Folders 11-16
Volume 45, 1 January - 24 March 1950

This volume (pp. 6970-7044) was written in Sharon, and contains numerous family reminiscences.

Preferred Citation

Theodore Sedgwick (1863-1951) diaries, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.

Persons:

Mussolini, Benito, 1883-1945.
Sedgwick family--Photographs.
Sedgwick, Charles, 1912-1983.
Sedgwick, Edith Ludlow, 1906-1972.
Sedgwick, Ellery, 1872-1960.
Sedgwick, Harold Bend, 1908-2000.
Sedgwick, Henry Dwight, 1861-1957.
Sedgwick, Mary Aspinwall Bend, 1878-1963.
Sedgwick, Theodore, 1904-1974.

Organizations:

Episcopal Church--Clergy.
Harvard University--Alumni and alumnae.
Harvard University (1780- )--Class of 1886.
St. Paul's Church (Rome, Italy).

Subjects:

Diaries--1884-1950.
Europe--Description and travel--1800-1918.
Europe--Description and travel--1919-1944.
Europe--History--1918-1945.
Fascism.
Italy--Description and travel.
Italy--Politics and government--1922-1945.
Italy--Social life and customs.
Ocean travel--Diaries.
Religious thought--Italy--Rome.
Scrapbooks--1884-1950.
Voyages and travels--Diaries.
Voyages and travels--Photographs.
World War, 1939-1945--Public opinion.