Sarah Gooll Putnam diary 7, pages 56-57 with entry for 15 April 1865
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[ This description is from the project: Staff Favorites ]
Sarah Gooll Putnam was born in 1851 to a wealthy Boston family. As a young girl, Putnam did sketches and later progressed to more sophisticated work, including oils and watercolors. She studied art in New York, Munich, and Holland and went on to achieve critical success for her portraits. Putnam kept a diary from age 9 until near her death at age 61 in 1912.
“It’s like she’s talking to you…”
MHS Editorial Assistant & Primary Source Cooperative Logistics Coordinator Tess Renault on the Sarah Gooll Putnam diaries
I had been working at the MHS for only a few months when I saw a painting that was being installed in a neighboring office. It was Sarah Gooll Putnam’s beautiful portrait of Ruth Loring. I was very interested when I learned that the MHS had Putnam’s diaries, some of which were already digitized and could be viewed on the website. So it was through an encounter with one item in the collection that led me to another, which seems to be a common occurrence at the MHS.
I think her diaries are such an important part of the collection. Putnam kept a diary from the age of 9 to 61, and getting to read about a young girl’s experience growing up in nineteenth-century Boston—albeit a very privileged one— in her own words is fascinating. And since she kept her journal for so many years, readers are able to follow in her footsteps until she’s an older woman. Interspersed throughout her entries are sketches and scrapbook items, documentation of her development as an artist and her many travel expeditions throughout her life. It’s an important historical artifact, but a fun one to engage with.
Now, after a little over two years of working at the MHS, some of my favorite moments from interacting with the collections have come from looking at young women’s journals and scrapbooks, and Sarah Gooll Putnam’s diaries will always be my introduction to this corner of the archive.