Simmering the Bones off the History of Nutrition Science

by Molly Laas, MHS Short Term Fellow an dACLS/Mellon Public Fellow & Editor at Data & Society

One of the least exciting archival holdings I was set to check out at the Massachusetts Historical Society was a copy of Edward Atkinson’s 1892 book The Science of Nutrition. I am writing a history of the formation of nutrition science in the U.S., and Atkinson, a Boston businessman and self-taught economist, was very interested in food and diet. He cultivated close ties with both the newly minted home economics movement and the chemists and physiologists who were framing the central questions of nutrition science. Despite Atkinson’s proximity to the development of nutrition science in the U.S., his book merited only a quick glance from me because I had already read it, and found it bizarre and tedious. The book was not about science at all, but instead extolled the virtues of the Aladdin oven, a slow cooker of Atkinson’s own design, that purportedly would help workers live within their means by allowing them to stew dry beans and cheap, tough cuts of meat to palatable tenderness. If workers could control their own cost of living, boom, there would be no need for them to agitate for higher wages, and the labor problem would be solved.

However, The Science of Nutrition became more interesting to me as I sat in the MHS reading room to examine the circumstances of its launch into the world. Labor advocates, economists, and scientists of the day issued scathing critiques of Atkinson’s notion that controlling food costs would allow workers to live on a shockingly low salary, as little as $500 a year. Yet The Science of Nutrition can be found in nearly every academic library in the United States. Andrew Carnegie was a strong supporter of Atkinson’s diet and cost of living theories, and provided the funds to send copies to thousands of U.S. libraries.[1] The book’s prevalence got me thinking about how a science of daily life, like nutrition, is defined in the public mind.

At the turn of the century, professional scientists had a different view than Atkinson did about the purpose of nutrition science and what it could and could not achieve. One scientist, W.O. Atwater, thought of nutrition science as a means for improving health, and part of his aim was to set a high dietary standard that was ample enough to facilitate better health and strength for laborers. He took a dim view of the Aladdin oven and was far more cautious than Atkinson was about the question of wages and diet, noting in an 1886 letter to Atkinson that “there are a Scylla of labor agitation and a Charybdis of physiological considerations to sail between.”[2] Atkinson, as was his wont, powered his boat straight ahead into the controversy, with a series of incendiary speeches before labor unions about how they could live well on pennies using his oven.[3]

The controversy over The Science of Nutrition lays bare a central tension in the history of nutrition, between professional scientists and lay diet teachers of all stripes. Nutrition is not just a laboratory science producing a one-way flow of facts about diet; popular demands upon nutrition science deeply influence the kinds of questions scientists ask. In addition, professional scientists are just one, not always very loud or authoritative, voice in a raucous public discussion about diet and health.[4]

Which leads me, slowly and warmly, back to Atkinson’s The Science of Nutrition. What does its ubiquity in archives and libraries tell us about the way the public understood nutrition science in the late nineteenth century? For one thing, Atkinson’s lively public persona and taste for notoriety was an excellent way to spread his ideas. The public pushback that Atwater received from labor advocates cemented the notion that nutrition was a science of parsimony and limited diets, rather than one that aimed at ample nutrition and a high standard of living. One worker summed up this view in an open letter to Atkinson, writing that Atkinsons’s “cantankerous” state of mind was caused by his “great disappointment in seeing the laboring and producing classes suddenly rise up in a body and refuse to be starved.”[5]

[1] Atkinson to Theodore A. Havermeyer, Nov 20 1895, Atkinson to Thomas Egleston, March 9 1896, MHS archives.

[2] W.O. Atwater to Atkinson, Nov 6 1886. MHS.

[3] Atkinson, Addresses Upon the Labor Question (Boston: Franklin Press: Rand, Avery & Company, 1886). MHS.

[4] Rima D. Apple, Vitamania: Vitamins in American Culture (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1996); Corinna Treitel, Eating Nature in Modern Germany: Food, Agriculture, and Environment, c.1870 to 2000 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017).

[5] W.H. McLaughlin, “An Open Letter to Mr. Edward Atkinson,” Boston Daily Globe (1872-1922), September 3, 1896.

A Divisive Charmer

by Ashley Williams, Processing Assistant and Library Assistant

Any of our readers that label themselves French history enthusiasts will, no doubt, have already taken note, but the anniversary of the Coup of Brumaire recently elapsed us this past weekend. This pivotal moment in French history marks the end of the Directory government in France and ushers in the era of Napoleon as he begins his pursuit of Emperor as First Consul. Many recognize this coup as the official end of the French Revolution.

This parliamentary coup was originally masterminded by Abbé Sieyès and Tallyrand. They had simply enlisted Napoleon as muscle to back them up should their negotiations to throw out the current constitution turn sour. Unsurprisingly, this is exactly what happened. Napoleon’s grenadiers were sent into the meeting place at Saint-Cloud, and, under duress, the Directory was persuaded to dissolve itself and promise the creation of a new constitution. And though Napoleon was only intended to be used by Sieyès and Tallyrand, he somehow charmed his way into the First Consul seat, channeling all actual constitutional power to himself and leaving the other two as mere figureheads.

There is no doubt that opinions on Napoleon during his reign vary quite drastically. In fact, I would go as far as to label his memory as divisive, even today. Many documents remaining in regards to Napoleon seem to swing pretty heavy-handedly to one side or another whether praising his name or dragging it through the mud. During my time at the MHS, I’ve found that a great majority of our collections regarding Napoleon consist of broadsides from British smear campaigns in response to Napoleon’s boasts to invade England. They serve to demonize Napoleon in the eyes of British citizens and highlight things such as his censorship of the press and atrocities of war during the Egyptian campaign.

MHS Broadsides
A sampling of Anti-Napoleon broadsides from the MHS collection

It’s been rather difficult to find material about him that isn’t politically charged, but I’ve come across one set of volumes in the Guild Library collection that explicitly claims to be an unbiased “general review of his impact on society.” Frank Goodrich’s The Court of Napoleon is a three-volume set published in the U.S. in 1857 spanning from Napoleon’s marriage to Josephine to his time on St. Helena. The volumes’ historical review is interspersed and decorated with beautiful illustrations and original manuscript letters. In fact, the volumes themselves are quite aesthetically pleasing. These are books that you can judge by the cover.

Frank Goodrich - Volume 1
The Court of Napoleon, Vol. 1 by Frank Goodrich

From what I’ve read, Goodrich’s take on Napoleon is intended for neither praise nor malice, but rather observation, and regardless of the French Emperor’s character, I think we’d be foolish not to acknowledge the impacts his life made on societies around the world.



“Coup Of 18–19 Brumaire | French History [1799]. ” 2019. Encyclopedia Britannica.

Flower, John, and Eugene Weber. 2019. “France – The First French Republic”. Encyclopedia Britannica.

“Plain Answers To Plain Questions: In A Dialogue Between John Bull And Bonaparte, Met Half-Seas Over Between Dover And Calais.”. 1803. Boston. Massachusetts Historical Society.

“To The Infamous Wretch: If There Be Such An One In England, Who Dares To Talk Of, Or Even Hopes To Find Mercy In The Breast Of The Corsican Bonaparte, The Eternal Sworn Foe Of England …”. 1803. Boston. Massachusetts Historical Society.

“Who Is Bonaparte?”. 1803. Boston. Massachusetts Historical Society.

George Hyland’s Diary, November 1919

By Anna Clutterbuck-Cook, Reader Services

Today, we return to the diary of George Hyland. If this is your first time encountering our 2019 diary series, catch up by reading the January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, and October 1919 installments first!

November brings new rhythms to George’s workdays. With the harvest in for the season he turns to preparing fields and farmyards for the winter, beating rugs, cleaning windows, carrying ash, chopping wood, planting blubs, and selling junk to the local junk dealer. He observes Armistice Day — the one year anniversary of the end of the Great War — and Thanksgiving Day. Snow storms batter the coast and twice he goes to Egypt Beach to observe the high waters and waves. As we close in on the final weeks of 1919, we see George settling in for the winter ahead.

Join me in following George day-by-day through November 1919.

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PAGE 350 (cont’d)

Nov. 1. Dug potatoes 5 1/2 hours for Mrs. Hazel Dimond (nee Reddy) – 1.65 and dug up and housed dalia [sic] bulbs 1h. 10m. for Mrs. Mary Wilder — 35. Cloudy W.S.W. and S. tem. 48-57. Eve cloudy, W.N.E. Played on the guitar 1h. 10 min. In eve. 9 P.M. light rain.

2d. (Sun.) rain until about noon; W.N.E. cold storm. Aft. clou. Eve. par. Clou. W.N.E. 11 P.M., nearly clear.

3d. Par. clou. To cloudy rain. 15 min. In aft. W.N.E. cold. Harvested my carrots and parsnips in my garden on the James place — had 2 1/2 bus. of carrots and 1 bu. And 1 peck of parsnips — gave Mr. James 1/2 peck of parsnips and carrots, all he wanted. Eve. clou. cold. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. 11:50 P.M. par. clou. W.E.

4th. Election Day (State). Went to State Election in the Town Hall, Scituate Cen. Voted Republican ticket entire. Rode there and back with Fred T. Bailey — in his coach (close) automobile — Belva C. Merritt rode to her home with us. Mr. James rode back with us from S. Cen. In aft. Worked 3 1/2 hours for Miss Edith C. Sargent — cleared all the corn stalks, vines and etc. (50) and wheeled them into the swamp — dug up her dalia bulbs also some for Mrs. Eudora Bailey and put them in the cellar. Went into the house after I fin. the work — staid [sic] 1/2 h. Mrs. Bailey gave me some five pears (Bosc). Cloudy; W.E. began to rain about 5:30 P.M. rain all eve. W.E. cold. Played on the guitar 1h. 10min. late in eve. got in some of my wood — old boards, etc.

5th. Rain all day and eve. W.N.E. and N.W. windy. Worked in house to-day — got the rubber of of some elect. light wire — got the copper ready to sell. Got all my junk ready for junk dealer.

PAGE 351

Cold storm. Snow-storm for 1/2 hour about dark. Played on the guitar — 1 1/2 hours in eve. Rain and gale (36m.) all night.

6th. Cold. Very windy in forenoon. Max w. 36m. W.N.N.W. light rain all day and part of eve. Sold all my junk this aft. — to Samuel Benson, junk dealer. Played on the guitar 1 ½ hours in eve. Eve. cloudy, cold. Sold 30 pounds of rags and old cloth _ _ _ _ 30.

60 pds. of iron – 15.

8 pds. of copper — 88.

5 pds. of brass — 25.

7 pds. of zinc — 21.

2 1/2 pds. of lead — 7.

3 pds. of rubber — 8. — $1.94

7th. Clou. Cold misty rain in forenoon. W.N.E. Windy. Late in aft. Worked 1h. 55m. For Mrs. Ethel Torrey — sawed and chopped down the upper half of a cherry tree and sawed off some of the lower limbs — 55. Eve. clou. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. — also repaired some of my clothes. Made a wash tub in forenoon. 11 P.M., begins to clear. 11:42 P.M. circle around the moon for a few minutes.

8th. Worked 4 hours for Mrs. Ethel Torrey trimmed out the cherry tree wood and piled it up and carried the trash to a dump also dug up and transplanted 4 rose bushes — 1.20. Also split wood 3/4 hour for Mrs. Cora Bailey — 20. Clou in forenoon — clear at noon. Aft. clear to par. clou. W.E. to S.E. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. Tem. to-day – 40-48.

9th. Sun. Clear. W.E. cold wind. Went to Egypt Beach, then walked along the shore — on the sea wall part of the way — to the glades — end of N.S. beach. Road badly damaged by the waves dur. the storm. Sea wall badly damaged in some places — […] damaged all along the shore, large number of people at the beaches — to view the waves and see the effect of the storm for the past 2 or 3 days. Water went under the “Merton” and comfort cottages, but did no damage to them. East wind cold at the sea shore. Ocean very rough. Walked all the way — 7 miles. Many automobiles along the shore rodes. 37 passed by me in 5 min — by my watch. Eve. clear. Calm.

10th. Worked 6 3/4 hours for Mrs. Bailey Ellis and B. Ellis — washing windows (outside) and dusting the rugs and carpets. Fine weather — clear; W.E. Very heavy frost this A.M. Eve. clear. Washed a blanket in eve — 1 hour then played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours. Heavy firing in directions of Boston — 8:30 to 8:45 P.M.

11th. Armistice Day. X Worked 7 hours for Mrs. Christine Ellis (nee Christine Bullard) washing and polishing windows and beating (dusting) rugs and carpets — 2.10. Evelyn Whiting also worked there for Mrs. Ellis. Was there yesterday too. Cloudy, W.S.W. and S.E. Very damp. Eve — cloudy, W.E. Played on the guitar 1 ¼ hours in eve. 12:20 (mid.) raining. | The Great War ended 1 year ago to-day. X

12th. Misty rain in forenoon. Aft. clou. W.S.W. did some work at home — washing and etc. Sold 14 ponds of rags to S. Benson — 14. Paid $1.00 this A.M. to Mrs. Bertha Bates (nee Hobson) as dues for Red Cross membership — for 1920. She gave me a Red Cross — design for 1920 — and a R.C. Button with date — 1920 on it. I joined the Red Cross in 1917. Dues — $1.00 per year. Mrs. B. is agent for this part of the town. Eve. cloudy. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. Received a N.Y. “Sunday Times” from Lottie to-day — from Groton, Conn.

13th. Cloudy in forenoon. W.N.E. light rain in aft. Mrs. Ethel Torrey came here late in aft. To get me to make a garden for chrysanthemums. I went there to do it but it began to rain — W.N.E. and I came back. Cold storm all eve. Mrs. Christine Ellis paid me for all work I have done there — 13 1/4 hours in all $4.13. Did some work at home to-day. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in Eve. 11:30. Clear. Cold. W.N.W. windy.

14th. Worked 1 hour for Mrs. Ethel Torrey. Made a garden and transplanted some chrysanthemums in it — 30. Also worked 5 hours for S.T. Speare (his father) cleaned out a large poultry house (dust very plenty) and dug up the ground in a poultry yard — 4.50.

Ice this A.M. W.N.W. cold. clear. Ellery Hyland called here in eve. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Eve. clear. cold.

15th. Worked 5 hours for Mr. Speare — 1.50. Cold. Clear. W.N.N.W. Called at Mr. James’ early in eve to help Mrs. [space left blank for name] get her trunks ready for express — to carry to the R.R. Sta. She is going back to Seattle, Wash. to-morrow. A.M. Eve. cold. Clear. Lucine E. Bates spent eve. here. Mrs. Ethel Torrey gave me a pint of milk to-day. Washed some of my clothes early in eve.

16th. (Sun.) Clear. Cold. W.N.W.N. and W.S.W. tem. About 26-46.

17th. Worked 5 1/2 hours for Mrs. Christine Ellis — washing windows (2d story) also dusted two blankets — 1.65. Have washed 39 windows — 1st and 2d stories. Par. clou. W.S.W. tem. 42-50. Eve hazy. 11 P.M. Clear. Warm for season. Early in eve went to Mr. Albert D. Spaulding’s (1 mile) and paid my taxes — for 1918 — $15.14. Then went to Mrs. M.G. Seaverns’ store and bought some groceries — then went to W. Bates’ and got a bedstead (iron) that Mrs. Bertha Bates gave me to-day all before I had supper. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours. Ellery B. Hyland called here in eve.

18th. Worked 5 1/2 hours for Mr. James — housing wood and clearing up the place — fine weather — par. cloudy W.S. tem. 46-59. Miss Edith C. Sargent came to the place where I was raking leaves and said Mrs. Eudora Bailey would like to engage me to do the work there this winter — carry out the goal ashes — shovel paths when snow comes. She lives with Mrs. B. opp.. the James place. Played on the guitar 1 ½ hours in eve. Eve. clear. Tem. 46.

19th Worked 6 hours for Mr. Speare — diging [sic] up the ground in poultry yards and wheeling the best dirt down around the lawn, also put 8 loads around Mrs. Ethel Torrey’s shrubs and plants — 1.80. Cold and windy (N.W.) clear to par. Clou. eve. Clou. very windy and cold. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. 11 P.M. Snow storm tem. 28. Max. wind about 36m

20th. Worked 5 hours for Mrs. M.G. Seaverns — put on storm door, cellar windows and split 2 large logs — and sawed and split some of it. Swept snow from walks and […] and did some chores — 1.50. Cold and windy; W.N.W.; tem. 25-38. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. Eve cold. Tem. 27.

21st. Worked 6 hours for Mr. Speare — cleaning boxes where he sets hens (incubator room) and diging up ground in poultry yard and wheeling it to a garden and spreading it on the ground — 1.80. Warmer to-day tem. 27-48; W.W. to S.W. eve. Cloudy. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. 11:30 P.M., clou. W.N.W.

22nd. Worked 6 hours for Mr. Speare — diging up ground in poultry yards and wheeling the dirt on to the gardens — 1.80. Mr. S. has many yards and a large number of hens and chickens. They are all Rhode Island Reds. Clear to par. Clou. W.S.W. to S. tem. about 40-60. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. 8:45 P.M., raining. Light rain all eve. Met Mrs. Bessie W. Prouty (nee Clapp) in Mrs. Seaverns’ store early in eve.

PAGE 352

23rd. (Sun.) fair. W.N.W. late in aft. Tem about 30-48. Went to Egypt Beach via […] Road and […] Hill — went to edge of water — dipped my hand in water when a small wave came up. Ret. through Egypt. Just 1 hour coming from beach to my home 3 1/2 miles. Did not hurry. Walked down and back. 3:20 P.M. to 5:30 P.M. Eve. clear to par. Clou. Boiled some turnips, carrots, parsnips, and beets in eve. From my garden at the James place. Also a few carrots from Mrs. Ethel Torrey’s garden.

24th. Worked 6 hours for Mr. Speare — diging up ground for a place to sow rye — 1.80. Clear. Cold. W.N.E. to N.W. Mr. [space left blank for name] Cluff, agent for S.S. Pierce & Co., large grocery dealers, Boston, called at Mr. Speare’s this forenoon — he wants me to do some landscape gardening for him next spring. Lives in Roxbury, Mass. Eve. clear. Cold. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve.

25th. In forenoon dug up ground 2 hours for Mr. Speare — 60. In aft. Worked 4 hours for Mrs. Ethel Torrey — trimming shrubs and etc. — 1.20. Fair to par. Clou. W.S.W. eve. Cloudy. Began to rain about 7:35 P.M. Light rain all eve. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. Rain all night (light rain).

26th. Rain all day W.N.E. In forenoon worked 2 hours for Mrs. Ethel Torrey — carrying coal ashes out of the cellar — 66. Got wet. Rain until about 11:30 P.M. Then clou. Colder. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve.

27th. (Thanksgiving Day.) In forenoon worked 1 1/3 hours for Mr. Speare — smoothing over the ground and sowing rye. Late in aft. | 40. Went to Hingham — on 4:12 P.M. tr. then walked to Hingham Cen. to Henrietta’s. Arr. 5:10 P.M. Carried my guitar — played 1 1/2 hours in eve. Uncle Samuel and Ellen there. They spent the day there. Frank carried them home about 6:30 P.M. in his automobile. I had supper and staid [sic] there all night. Cloudy. Very damp. W.E. Cold. Light snow storm in eve (late).

28th. Staid in Hingham. Worked 6 hours for Henrietta — 1.00 — helping Frank tear down a building. Cloudy to fair. W.E. Cold. In eve played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours.

29th. Staid in Hingham. Worked 6 hours for Henrietta — helping Frank take down building — 1.00. Cloudy; W.S. and S. Began to rain (light) about 2:30 P.M. Had supper there and came home in eve. Walked to Hingham Sta. (1 1/4 miles) and came on 7 P.M. tr. began to rain again when I was about half way to H. Sta. rain all eve. W.S.W. warm. — tem. 52. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. 12 (mid) still raining.

30th. (Sun.) Clear. Warm. W.W. to N.W. tem. 50-66. Very windy – gale 36 m. Eve. clear. Cold. W.N.W. Staid at home to-day.

* * *

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. The catalog record for the George Hyland’s diary may be found here. Hyland’s diary came to us as part of a collection of records related to Hingham, Massachusetts, the catalog record for this larger collection may be found here.

“They talk very loud, very fast, and altogether”: John Adams and Revolutionary Manhattan

by Christopher F. Minty, Assistant Editor, the Adams Papers

On 10 August 1774 John Adams departed Boston for Philadelphia. He was traveling with Robert Treat Paine, Thomas Cushing, and Samuel Adams. Together, they were Massachusetts’s delegation to the First Continental Congress. It was a long, slow ride. But on the way, they took advantage of the opportunities travel presented. They stopped in villages, towns, and cities on the way. For John Adams, New York City was the most interesting place they visited.

Front cover of John Adams's diary
John Adams diary, front cover

The delegation was in Manhattan from 20 August to 26 August, longer than they stayed in any other place. Upon his arrival, Adams noted in his diary, “This City will be a Subject of much Speculation to me.” And it was. Adams committed eighteen pages of his diary to his time in New York, considerably more than any other place. He noted down who he met and how they came across. He also offered commentary on buildings, streets, dining sets, the weather, and New York’s government.

Adams kept a diary not only for his benefit, though. “I have [kept] a few Minutes by Way of Journal,” he told Abigail Adams on 28 August, in one of the few letters he wrote during this period. The diary, Adams went on, “shall be your Entertainment when I come home.” To make his entries enjoyable, John Adams recorded almost everything he saw and everyone he met. In short, his diary represents a who’s who of eighteenth-century New York City. He met or dined with some of the city’s most prominent men, many of whom shared his radical views about the Continental Congress and the increasingly extractive nature of British imperialism.

When Adams arrived in New York City, his first stop was Hull’s Tavern at 10 A.M. on 20 August, a Saturday. Hull’s Tavern was operated by Robert Hull, and it was located at roughly 115 Broadway, not far north of Trinity Church or far from the Oswego Market. But he didn’t stop for long. After Hull’s Tavern they moved to the home of Tobias Stoutenburgh at King Street (present-day Pine Street) and Nassau Street. It wasn’t far from Hull’s; about a five-minute walk. Stoutenburgh, a goldsmith, owned a large lot, complete with a garden and orchard. During Adams’s time in Stoutenburgh’s house, he met Alexander McDougall and Jeremiah Platt, two politically active New Yorkers who, by this stage in the imperial contest with Britain, were leaders of one of the partisan groups in the city.

The meeting between these New Yorkers and Adams, and the Massachusetts delegation, was an important moment. Platt invited the delegates to dine with him on 22 August. He left shortly thereafter. But McDougall, Adams wrote, “stayed longer, and talk’d a good deal.” “He is a very sensible Man,” Adams continued, “and an open one. He has none of the mean Cunning which disgraces so many of my Country men. He offers to wait on us this afternoon to see the City.”

Page from John Adams's diary
John Adams diary, 20 August 1774

McDougall took Adams and the other delegates into public places where they might be useful for partisan purposes: taverns, Fort George, the equestrian statue of George III, various partisans’ houses, and “up the broad Way.” Altogether, Adams went to nearly “every Part of the City.” Along the way McDougall introduced him to his like-minded colleagues and friends. During a quiet moment, McDougall gave him a break-down of political affairs in the city, noting that there were “two great Families” in New York “upon whose Motions all their Politicks turn.” The Livingstons, associated with McDougall, held “Virtue and Abilities as well as fortune.” The DeLanceys, Adams was assured, had “not much of either of the three,” whilst McDougall had a “thorough Knowledge of Politicks.”

It wasn’t long until McDougall took Adams to a private residence, a place where they could really chat. On 22 August, Adams was taken to a home on what is now W 43rd Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. There, Adams and McDougall spoke at length about politics, developing an alliance that would continue through the Continental Congress. Of those who “profess attachment to the American Cause,” McDougall recommended Adams “avoid every Expression here.” McDougall, Adams went on, “says there is a powerfull Party here, who are intimidated by Fears of a Civil War, and they have been induced to acquiesce by Assurances that there was no Danger, and that a peacefull Cessation of Commerce would effect Relief.” These people were the DeLanceys, individuals whom Adams and the delegation should avoid.

Page from John Adams's diary
John Adams diary, 23 August 1774

New Yorkers’ eagerness to mobilize John Adams to their cause was obvious, too, at least to him. They recognized his potential influence—and they wanted him to know that they were with him. “At their Entertainments,” Adams famously wrote, “there is no Conversation that is agreable. There is no Modesty—No Attention to one another. They talk very loud, very fast, and altogether. If they ask you a Question, before you can utter 3 Words of your Answer, they will break out upon you, again—and talk away.” These men could not wait to curry favor with Adams.

Happy Halloween from the MHS

by Rakashi Chand, Senior Library Assistant

The MHS holds three manuscript diaries kept by Ruth Evelyn Beck in 1919, 1920 and 1921. They describe social activities with family and friends including parties, dances, movies, her job, church activities, the local news, and courtship. Along with the diaries there are loose printed items such as dance cards and letters. While using the collection in the MHS reading room today, a researcher happened upon these fun Halloween items.

Along with an invitation to a Halloween party in 1920 are a dance card and table placard from the party.

Halloween Ball placard
Ruth Beck’s 1920 Halloween party table placard
Clark College Halloween Party dance card
Ruth Beck’s dance card from the 1920 Halloween party

The Halloween party is noted in her diary entry for 22 October 1920.

Diary entry for 22 October 1920
Ruth Beck diary entry for 22 October 1920


“It appeared so strange and wonderful…”

by Susan Martin, Processing Archivist & EAD Coordinator

Nathanael Low’s almanac, 1818
Detail from Nathanael Low’s almanac, 1818

You will see in the paper an account of a strange animal, denominated a Sea-Serpent, seen last week in the harbour of Cape-Ann. The account is undoubtedly correct in the main, but is so general as to leave us in much doubt and perplexity what to think of this formidable visitor and how to class him.

This excerpt comes from a letter by John Davis of Boston, Mass. to his son-in-law Rev. Ezra Shaw Goodwin. The correspondence of Davis, Goodwin, and other family members was recently acquired by the MHS.

John Davis (1761-1847) was a U.S. District Court judge for 40 years. He was also the president of the short-lived Linnaean Society of New England, an organization established in 1814 to promote the study of natural history. The society hosted lectures, organized tours, and operated a museum, but may be best remembered for its investigation into sightings of an alleged sea serpent in Gloucester Harbor.

According to an article published in the Boston Daily Advertiser on 18 August 1817, a “prodigious snake” had been sighted in the harbor by “hundreds of people” over the course of several days. The animal was described as somewhere between 50 and 100 feet long and as thick as a barrel, with a head the size of a horse’s head (but resembling a dog’s), and was said to move acrobatically through the water at tremendous speed. Attempts to shoot it or capture it had failed.

The Linnaean Society was on the case. Members of the society went to Cape Ann to see if they could catch a glimpse of the mysterious animal. A committee—composed of Davis himself, Jacob Bigelow, and Francis C. Gray—was appointed to interview witnesses and prepare a report for publication and distribution to scientific societies around the world. The Linnaeans were very excited, but accounts varied widely and might be unreliable, as Davis warned in a postscript.

Still, as the animal was seen so imperfectly and in swift motion, great allowance must be made, and it is difficult to say what part is to be received as inference or conjecture.

Over the next few months, Davis kept Goodwin apprised of developments. In his letters, he compared the Gloucester sea serpent to similar sightings in Penobscot Bay, Me. (“it appeared so strange and wonderful that the Academy declined publishing it”) and Plymouth, Mass. Could this be the same creature? Some even claimed an animal had washed ashore as far away as the Orkney Islands “to which our portentous stranger may be supposed to bear a resemblance.” Fortunately, although the Gloucester sea serpent was “sufficiently terrific indeed” and thrashed about in the water “little mindful of Boats,” it showed no signs of “a mischievous or malignant temper.”

On 27 September 1817, Gorham Norwood, a resident of Gloucester, discovered and killed an unfamiliar snake on the beach. The snake was only about three feet long, but had a strange “undulating” spine, so it was brought to the Linnaean Society for examination. Based on its proximity to the harbor sightings (and apparently not much else), this specimen was assumed to be the “progeny of the great serpent.”

Fold out plate of Scoliophis atlanticus
Fold-out plate from the Linnaean Society report, 1817

The Linnaean Society’s report was finished by November 1817, and Davis sent a copy to Goodwin. What was its conclusion? The sea serpent was not only real, but an undiscovered species! The society classified it Scoliophis atlanticus.

Davis admitted, “It was rather bold to come out with a new Genus, in the present advanced state of Natural History, but we thought the characteristics of the creature required it.” Goodwin agreed, but would the scientific community? The Linnaeans had based their case entirely on eyewitness testimonies and the serpent’s alleged offspring. Davis wrote, “We shall see the result in due time – time also the great discoverer will doubtless shed new light on the subject.”

Indeed, the Boston Society of Natural History definitively debunked the Linnaean Society’s findings in its Proceedings of 1863 (vol. 9, p. 245) and 1868 (vol. 12, pp. 184-5). The “progeny” of the serpent, preserved in the Linnaean Society’s collections for decades, was reexamined and found to be a common black snake (Coluber constrictor) with a deformed spine. And the sightings were attributed to mistaken identity, a “humpbacked whale scooping fish” being the most likely explanation. The Scoliophis atlanticus was declared a “myth.”

When cataloging this collection (incidentally, the first time I’ve used the Library of Congress subject heading “sea monsters”), I found that the MHS holds a few pamphlets on the subject of the Gloucester sea serpent, including a copy of the Linnaean Society report, an account by Hon. David Humphreys of the Royal Society of London, and Nathanael Low’s 1818 almanac, with drawings and a summary of the story. For a three-dimensional representation, visit the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, Mass., which is home to a statue of the Gloucester sea serpent by sculptor Chris Williams.

Elijah’s Mantle & its Annotations: A Source for Puritan Constitutionalism

by Adrian Chastain Weimer, Providence College

I can imagine the 18th century historian Thomas Prince turning over the pages of the recently printed Elijah’s Mantle (1722), and wondering if the editors and printers got it right. As a college student Prince had taken an interest in the history of New England and decided he wanted to begin preserving old documents.[1] He now pulled out the original manuscript, a sermon from his grandfather’s generation by the Cambridge pastor Jonathan Mitchell. On comparing the two he must have been surprised at how far the printed version departed from the original. And so Prince decided to fill in the margins with the exact language of the manuscript, now lost. In doing so he preserved the full force of Mitchell’s language about Christ’s kingly government, a way of expressing constitutional resistance to arbitrary rule.

Elijah's Mantle
Thomas Prince’s copy of Elijah’s Mantle

As I opened Prince’s copy of Elijah’s Mantle in the Massachusetts Historical Society reading room I was first disappointed that the edges had been cut off by an over-industrious nineteenth-century re-binder. But then I looked more closely at the neat blockish handwriting scattered on the pages of the text, most of which had avoided the knife. The ownership signatures indicated the book had belonged to Thomas Prince, Thomas Prince Jr., and Mercy Prince. At the suggestion of Peter Drummey, the Stephen T. Riley Librarian at the MHS, I spent some time going through Prince Sr.’s own papers to confirm the writing was indeed his. And then I started to use Prince’s annotations as a source for re-assessing Mitchell’s role in the resistance movement of the early Restoration.

Ownership signatures
Signatures indicate the book belonged to Thomas Prince, Thomas Prince Jr., and Mercy Prince

Jonathan Mitchell died young, but he was one of the most compelling preachers of his day. He had given the sermon extracted for Elijah’s Mantle, called “The Great End and Interest of New-England,” in December of 1662, at a moment when New Englanders were reeling from news of the Act of Uniformity, English legislation that took political rights and freedom of worship away from nonconformists (non-Anglicans) in England. They had also just received a letter from the restored English king Charles II that demanded they redesign their government to benefit wealthy Anglicans. Mitchell was already an intriguing figure for several reasons. First, the magistrate Daniel Gookin, when describing how people mobilized to defy the king in the 1660s, had written, “I remember that eminent Mr. Mitchel, now in heaven . . . speaking of Christ’s Kingly Government upon a civil Acc[oun]t” as one of the most important rationales for constitutional resistance. Second, Mitchell had helped to draft a 1664 letter to the king which explained why the Stuart government’s demands violated their charter liberties, the very reasons men and women had come to New England.

Prince’s annotations on Mitchell’s sermon recovered a stronger version of his words, which the printed edition had tamed down. For example, while the printed version, referring to the feared imposition of Church of England ceremonies, said “to Go backward unto those Things which we knew, have openly Testified…to be not of GOD, and which we departed from, will be such a Wickedness as the Lord’s JEALOUSY will not bear withal,” Prince added from the manuscript: “& Hence for our Civil Government to put forth any act of Consent thereto would be a Thing to be Trembled at.” That this was an important line is confirmed by John Higginson’s quote in his 1663 election sermon: “And for our Civil Government to put forth any act of consent unto either of the former, would be a thing to be trembled at, and Prayed against, that the Lord would keep them from.”[2] In the case of any attempt by England to extend the Act of Uniformity to the colonies, the Massachusetts General Court should hold its ground.

Prince's annotations on Jonathan Mitchell's sermon
Example of Thomas Prince’s annotations on Jonathan Mitchell’s sermon

Mitchell’s 1662 language provides essential context for the 1664-1665 petition campaigns, when colonists in at least a dozen towns pledged support for the Massachusetts government in its decision to resist the demands of the new regime. From studying the extant town petitions, I had realized that the 1664 petition from Cambridge – Mitchell’s hometown –  was probably the first. Colonists had many reasons to oppose any English move toward arbitrary rule, and they were not the only ones to do so. But Mitchell’s understanding of the liberties of self-government as instituted by Christ as well as by the king provided one colonial language for resistance, the stronger version of which has been preserved both by Prince and the MHS.

Read an article in The New England Quarterly written by Adrian Chastain Weimer that uses the Society’s copy of Elijah’s Mantle.

[1] Kenneth Minkema, “Prince, Thomas,” ANB. Prince identifies the writer of 1722 preface as W. Cooper.

[2] John Higginson, The Cause of God and His People in New England (Cambridge [Mass.], 1663], 14.

Crafting a Public Identity: Sarah Winnemucca in the MHS Collections

by Theresa Mitchell, Library Assistant

People were publicly spreading their political ideologies long before the days of social media. For Sarah Winnemucca, a public presence was a key element of her political agenda. Winnemucca, a Northern Paiute woman and daughter of Chief Winnemucca, holds a complex spot in the history of the United States. In part, she took to the written word, publishing a book titled Life Among Piutes: Their Wrongs and Claims, which is in the Society’s collection. The autobiographical work is a deft account of the history of her family and culture, including the agonies of white settlement. Winnemucca was well connected to contemporaries who were engaged in their own campaigns for change. Most notably, she was connected to Horace Mann, his second wife, Mary Peabody Mann, and her sister and fellow education reformer, Elizabeth Peabody. It is through these connections that she was able to share her struggle with a larger audience.

Elizabeth Peabody’s letter to Dr. Lyman Abbot, Sarah Winnemucca’s practical solution of the Indian problem: a letter to Dr. Lyman Abbot of the ’Christian Union, is more of a booklet for a public audience than a letter—it even includes a postscript that refers to itself as a public document—to get support and funding for a school Winnemucca had started for Paiute children in Nevada.  In advocating for Winnemucca’s school, Peabody cites Winnemucca’s Christian faith, private (as opposed to communal) land ownership and the fact that the children were to be taught in English as well as Paiute. Winnemucca’s own writing plays into the American rhetoric of creating our own destiny. In an address quoted by Peabody, Winnemucca tells her peers “It will be your fault if [your children] grow up as you have”, saying that “a few years ago you owned this great country; today the white man owns it all and you own nothing.” She was clear that education was the best path forwards for the Paiute and Peabody’s writing gives us some insight into the type of education she offered at the school. There is a subtle impulse towards educational assimilation in the text: Peabody stated that not funding such a school as Winnemucca’s “prevents civilization” among the Paiute “by insulting that creative self-respect and cautious freedom to act.” Indeed, Winnemucca was an activist who felt that she needed to work within the framework of Euro-American systems. In an “Appeal for justice,” a circular in the MHS broadside collection, she states “My work must be done through Congress.”

At the same time, she willing to communicate the profound, harmful effect the processes of colonization had on her community. In the early 1880s, the Paiutes were struggling to have reservation lands, acknowledged in the 1860s and subsequently sold off, restored to the community. Winnemucca in particular held this battle for the Malheur Reservation close to her heart. In 1883, the year before Life Among Piutes was published she traveled to Boston where she met the Peabody sisters and Horace Mann. The Peabody sisters were the ones who pushed forward the publishing of her book. During her time in the Eastern United States, she gave public lectures discussing the injustices faced by her people. Her circular “Appeal for justice” mentioned above, was another way a garnering support, and to do so she made her public appeal an emotional one.

In the circular she states, “No door has been open to [the Paiute]; on the contrary, every arm has been raised against them” and that their reservation was “taken from us in the usual way.”  In two paragraphs, she establishes her emotional appeal, urging people to seek justice with her. She explains that she is acting not on behalf of herself, but for her people and especially her father. Winnemucca makes her eastern audience aware of their power: “will you give my people a home? Not a place for this year, but a home forever? You can do it. Will you?” It is not until the second and much shorter paragraph that she gives information about the cession Malheur Reservation to the Paiute. Here, she informs her public that the reservation lands were sold against the wishes of her community, implying no community members were in a position to push back against the sale of the land. Still, while being more informative here she does not abandon the impassioned language from earlier in the circular. She states, “I want to test the right of the United States government to make and break treaties at pleasure.”  She finishes by saying “Talk for me and help me talk, and all will be well.” On January 4, 1884, she went before Congress with a petition for the restoration of the Malhuer Reservation to the Paiute.

Unfortunately, the lands designated as the Malheur reservation would never be reacknowledged by the government as the Malheur reservation. Winnemucca’s declining health and funds prohibited her from keeping her school running, and she passed away in 1891. Though her work in these areas was not fully realized, Winnemucca was able to fashion a public voice that reached an elite and influential circle of Boston, made herself heard by the United States Congress, and translated her experience to  be understood by a broad American public.  Her legacy today is controversial and her complicated public advocacy resonates with contemporary debates. The questions of identity and representation are some of the most pressing of our time; the rhetoric of who belongs where is a common topic in popular and political media. Reading through Winnemucca’s “Appeal for justice” and Peabody’s letter offers a historical perspective.

Card attached to circular letter
Card in the folder with circular letter directing readers to sign and return to Mary Peabody Mann so that Winnemucca could present the signitures to Congress.

All of the excerpts and images in this post were taken from collections held at the MHS. You can visit our library to take a look at the originals.

From Radaranges to Handie-Talkies: Post-War Technology in Massachusetts

by Susan Martin, Processing Archivist & EAD Coordinator

Have you ever wondered about the origins of the everyday technological devices that we take for granted today? How far back do these devices go? What did some of their earliest incarnations look like?

The newly processed papers of Charles Francis Adams give us an idea. You may recognize his name, but no, I’m not talking about the ambassador to the U.K. during the Civil War (CFA 1807-1886), the railroad executive and historian (CFA 1835-1915), or the Secretary of the Navy and yachtsman (CFA 1866-1954). He was, however, a member of the same illustrious family and a direct descendant of Presidents John and John Quincy Adams.

Our Charles Francis Adams (1910-1999) was, among other things, a Navy veteran, vice president of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and executive at Raytheon for many years. It’s this last role I’d like to highlight in this post. Raytheon, founded in 1922, has been headquartered in Cambridge, Newton, Lexington, and Waltham, Mass. Between 1947 and 1975, Adams served alternately as vice president, president, and chairman of the company.

Adams’ papers include 15 scrapbooks of newspaper clippings, photographs, and ephemera going back to 1920 that document much of the history of Raytheon. Adams’ tenure coincided with a period of explosive technological innovation, and while the company has become one of the country’s foremost military contractors, it was also involved in the development of a variety of commercial technological gadgets and home appliances in the post-World War II years. I want to focus on three devices: the microwave oven, the television, and the walkie-talkie.

On 20 May 1947, the Hotel Statler in Boston (now the Park Plaza Hotel) debuted a new appliance manufactured by Raytheon—the “Radarange.” It was about five feet high, stainless steel, and used a magnetron tube for cooking meals in a matter of seconds. That evening, an entire meal was prepared with this “radar cooking,” including “radar coffee.” According to a Boston Post article published the following day, “The Hotel Statler made epicurean history last night. […] It was the first time this has been done anywhere.”

Dinner menu
Menu for “the first radar dinner,” Hotel Statler, 20 May 1947

The scrapbooks include some fun promotional photographs featuring the Radarange at the Statler and other Massachusetts locations, like the Aero Snack Bar, a lunch counter at the Norwood airport; White Tower Restaurant in Brookline Village; and United Farmers Dairy Store in Dorchester.

Two Radaranges in the kichen of the Statler
Statler kitchen with two Radaranges, taken by Avalon Studios, 1947 (Photo. #343.07)
Radarange in Aero Snack Bar
Aero Snack Bar with a Radarange, taken by Avalon Studios, 1947 (Photo. #343.08)

One article estimates that there were about 75 Radarange units in operation by early 1948, mostly in hotels and restaurants. The appliances were not sold, but leased to customers for $150 a month. They were also intended for trains, ships, and even planes. Radaranges were not ready for everyday home use yet—for one thing, they were too expensive to make and to service—but Adams saw the potential in the domestic market, and by the mid-1950s, the company was developing a smaller model for direct sale.

The chairman of the board of Hotels Statler Co., quoted in a press release, said that the Radarange “has a definite place in the preparation of quality food in quantity production. The cooking is not only fast, it is clean—there is no grease, smoke or odor. Our chefs, furthermore, are delighted because ‘Radarange’ produces no external heat, making the kitchen a more comfortable place in which to work.”

What was the public’s reaction to this new-fangled contraption? Tide magazine, a publication covering advertising, marketing, and public relations news, said the Radarange was the “most intriguing” of Raytheon’s new products (30 Jan. 1948). A reviewer, early the following year, called it a “spooky invention,” but was otherwise positive about it. Christian Science Monitor summed it up this way: “At first there was some opposition to radar ranges because of the revolutionary changes in cooking methods implicit in them. Some cooks were impatient of the new techniques and others expected too much” (1 Apr. 1954).

I, for one, love the idea of diners at a high-end restaurant ordering a microwave meal. In fact, the Statler reserved a special section on its daily menu for food prepared via Radarange.

Statler Daily Menu showing food prepared with the Radarange
Lobster in 2 ½ minutes, Hotel Statler, 15 May 1947

Television, on the other hand, had been around for a little while before Raytheon got in on the game. The company’s foray into the TV market wouldn’t last, but in the late 1940s, Raytheon and its subsidiary Belmont Radio Corporation were hyping their new model with features like a clearer picture, static-free sound, and a “snap-action station selector” (the channel dial, I assume). Prices of televisions advertised in Adams’ scrapbooks ranged from $200-$750. A store in Boston called the House of Television was selling a set that came in a mahogany cabinet with a AM/FM radio and a record player. It also boasted a “giant” circular screen…about 8.8 inches in diameter.

Advertisement for TV
Advertisement for the Raytheon Belmont TV, 1949

Last but definitely not least, I stumbled across these terrific clippings from the Quincy Patriot Ledger and the Boston Globe dated 4 Feb. 1952.They showcase Raytheon’s new “handie-talkie” radio, “the lightest and most compact hand radio receiver-transmitter ever developed,” weighing in at a mere 6 ½ pounds and larger than a woman’s head.

Raytheon "handie-talkie" radio
Clippings promoting the new “handie-talkie,” 4 Feb. 1952

This radio, officially named the AN/PRC-6, was already proving useful to American troops in Korea. It could be submerged in water and withstand extreme temperatures, had a greater range and far more available frequencies than the previous version, and the 3 ½-pound battery lasted about 100 hours. As for its size, well, it was definitely an improvement over the 11-pound World War II “handie-talkie.” One writer astutely observed that this model was part of “the continuing miniaturization of communications equipment.” Imagine what they’d say about today’s hand-held devices.

All of the excerpts and images in this post were taken from the Charles Francis Adams scrapbooks here at the MHS. Click on any of the images above to see them larger. Or better yet, visit our library and take a look at the originals.

George Hyland’s Diary, October 1919

By Anna Clutterbuck-Cook, Reader Services

Today, we return to the diary of George Hyland. If this is your first time encountering our 2019 diary series, catch up by reading the January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, and September 1919 installments first!

October begins “cloudy and cold” with temperatures in the 40s and occasional overnight frost. George is still busy helping bring in the autumn harvest — during October he picks tomatoes, cauliflowers, apples, pears, lettuce, potatoes, corn, and tobacco plants. He also travels to Boston to put more money down on his liberty bonds and to Hingham to assist with a large estate auction. Some of the small details are the most charming: He feeds the sparrows at Rowe’s Wharf in Boston; dances the Mazurka (a Polish folk dance) with friends; he walks to Egypt Beach and has to wait out a sudden rainstorm on the veranda of a house near the shore. He once notes that the stars are small and hazy, a “sign of storm.” There tiny glimpses, too, of the way George’s life is connected to a wider world beyond the South Shore. One of his tobacco plants is shipped to Seattle, Washington; on his trip to Boston he sees one of “the new U.S. destroyers … large ship – 4 funnels.” At the train station he runs into a veteran “recently returned from the war” in Europe.

Join me in following George day-by-day through October 1919.

* * *

PAGE 346 (cont’d)

Oct. 1. Worked 8 hours for E.F. Clapp – rode up with the horse and farm wagon. Had lunch at B. Brigg’s. Found me […]. Cloudy and cold in forenoon, W.N.W. aft. Clear, W.S.E. Eve. clear. tem. 40. Played on the guitar 1 hour in eve. Saw […] to-day.

2d. Worked 2 hours for E. Frank Clapp — on his farm in Norwell — Cloudy A.M., W.S. damp. Began to rain about 11:20 A.M. — light rain all

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day. Frost this A.M. Eve. clou. to misty. Played on the guitar 1h. 20m. in eve. I have a cold. With cough. 12 (mid.) thunder tempest W. of here.

3d. Fine weather, W.S.E. tem. 76. In aft. mowed, trimmed and raked lawn 1 1/4 hours for Russell Wilder — 50. Late in aft. picked up some boxes and other things for fuel — cut it up and housed it. Eve. cloudy — W.S.E. Played on the guitar 1h. 20m. in eve. I have a bad cold.

4th. Cloudy to par. clou. tem. 74. Played on the guitar 1 hour in eve. (Rain in eve.)

5th. (Sun.) Foggy and misty rain at times day and eve. Mr. James called here in forenoon — had job for me. Mr. S.T. Speare also called to see if I will mow his grass.

6th. Cloudy. Foggy A.M. warm N.S.W. rain all day — tem. 72. Went to the R.R. Station (opp. This house) early in eve. 5:40 P.M. Paul Briggs there — also [space left blank for name] of Norwell — recently returned from the war — is a French […] — was in 39th U.S. Inf. 4th Div. 2d […] in U.S. Army. They were waiting for the 6:19 P.M. tr. Eve. clear. Fine. Played on the guitar 1 h. 10 min. In eve.

7th. Worked 8 hours for E. Frank Clapp — on his farm in Norwell — [space left blank for amount owed]. Picked 10 bus. of ripe tomatoes, and helped E. F. C. harvest and pack 40 bus. of cauliflowers — Mrs. [space left blank for name] there — she cut and packed them. I brought them home with the horse, and they brought the tomatoes home in the auto. I got some bread at Fred Litchfield’s, and some milk at Mrs. Merritt’s. Fine weather. Clear nearly all day — W.W. in afternoon — N.W. late in aft. Windy. Air dry. Fine eve. Played on the guitar 1 h 10 min. in eve.

8th. Worked 8 hours for E.F. Clapp. [space left blank for amount owed]. Picking ripe and green tomatoes and helped E.F.C. and [space left blank for name] get a load of cauliflowers — 40 bus. They carried home the cauliflowers in the auto and I carried home the tomatoes with the horse and wagon. Ate my dinner at B. Briggs. Olive made some tea for me. A large automobile with members of the Bap. Church passed me in morning — when I was walking up to E.F. Clapp’s, and Fred T. Bailey drove the leading one — a large car (limousine) stopped and invited me to ride with them.

Cold A.M. W.N.N.W. wind S.E. after 5 P.M. S. later in eve bought some bread at F. Litchfield’s and some milk at Mrs. Merritt’s. Played on the guitar 1 h. 25 m. in eve.

9th. Worked 8 hours for E. Frank Clapp — picking tomatoes (ripe) — are worth $5.00 per bu. To-day went to the farm in Norwell with the horse and wagon. Frost this A.M. Very chilly wind — S.W. par. Clou. in aft. Began to rain when I arr. at E.F. Clapp’s (7 P.M.) and rained all eve. Warmer. Played the guitar 1 h. 10 min in eve. Carried my dinner — ate at B. Brigg’s. Bought bread at F. Litchfield’s and milk at Mrs. Merritt’s. Light rain all night.

10th. Light rain early A.M. Forenoon clou. to par. Clou. Very warm in aft. — tem. To-day 66-80; W.W.S.W. Picked tomatoes for E.F. Clapp — in aft. — went to the farm late in forenoon with the horse and wagon — brought home 18 bus. Of tomatoes. Eve. par. Clou. W.N.W. bought some milk at Mrs. Merritt’s. Played on the guitar 1 h. 15 m. in eve. Worked 6 hours to-day for E.F. Clapp.

11th. Worked 6 hours for E.F. Clapp — picking tomatoes on the farm in Norwell. Brought them home with the horse and wagon. Hot weather — tem. 72-83; W.W.; clear to par. clou. Carried a light dinner. At it at B. Brigg’s — also had some of their dinner. Began to sprinkle — light rain about 3:30 P.M. W.N.W. E.F. Clapp and Mrs. [space left blank for name] came here in eve. And paid me for all work to date — 10 days, 5 hours — 25.50. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve. Rain late in eve. W.N.W.

12th. (Sun.) Clou. light rain at times in aft. W.M.E. Very cool. 11:30 A.M. clear. W.N.W.

Frank Howard annual spring catalog
Image from Frank Howard’s annual spring catalog of reliable “seeds that grow”, tools and machinery (1916).

PAGE 348

13th. Worked 4 hours for Mr. James — clearing out buildings and doing carpentry work. Fine weather, tem. About 35-65; W.N.W. and S.E. Cut down some of my tobacco plants — brought it home and drying it out in the woodhouse. Also picked some of the seeds. I have 50 large plants — raised them on the James place. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve.

14th. Went to Boston — on 9:15 A.M. tr. Paid the last instalment on the 5th Liberty Bond. (Victory Liberty Loan) Forenoon cloudy; W.W. rain all aft. W.S.E. bought some groceries at Cobb Bates store. Returned on Steamer “Betty Alden” to Pemberton, tr. to Nantasket Junction, then tr. to N. Scituate. Arr. 4 4 P.M. Light rain in eve. Saw the new U.S. Destroyers — “129” passed by her. Is large ship – 4 funnels. I gave the sparrows at Rowe’s Wharf some [bread] I give them some every time I go there. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve.

15th. In forenoon did some work at home — washing and etc. In aft. Worked 3 hours for Mason Litchfield — mowing lawn and trimming grass around the house — 65. Cloudy. Very damp. Warm. W.S.W. tem. 72. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve.

16th. In forenoon worked 2 ½ hours for Mr. James — carpentering. In aft. worked 3 hours for J.H. Vinal — in the store and loading and unloading goods — 90. Late in aft. cut down all my tobacco plants (50 large plants) and brought them home and put them in the woodhouse — tied them up in bundles. Got some lettuice [sic] in my garden — gave some to Mrs. Mary [blank space left for name] J.H. Vinal and Mrs. Bertha Bates (nee Holson). Very warm weather, W.S.W. tem. 76 cloudy, light rain at times in aft. Eve. cloudy, warm. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. Heavy thunder tempest at 10 P.M. W. of here. Rain here, 10:45 tempest passed close by here — thunder at same time. 11 P.M. raining. Tempest about done. Gave Mrs. [space left for name] E. James Jr. one of my tobacco plants to send to Seattle, Wash. 11:15 P.M. tempest has passed to the S. of here — steady rain here.

17th. In aft. picked apples 3 hours for Mrs. Eudora Bailey — picked […] on a very large R.I. […] tree (3 barrels) Light rain in morning. W.N.W. aft. and eve. clear. Played the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve.

18th. Worked 7 hours for Mrs. Eudora Bailey — mowing and trimming the grass on W.S. and N. sides of the house — also the bank, and picking pears. Put 3 barrels of apples and 2 bus. of pears into the cellar, and housed 1 cord of wood. 10 hours in all — 1.50. Mrs. B. gave me some of the pears (Burr, Bosc) and apples, also a piece of brown bread. Mr. James paid me 1.00 for work I have done for him (I did not charge much for what I did.) Very fine weather, W.N.W. in forenoon — S.E. in aft. Fine eve. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve.

19th. (Sun.) Fine weather. In aft. (2:45 P.M.) went to Egypt Beach and N. Scituate Beach via Hatherly Road — ret. via Surfside road — got some sea moss. Walked all the way. arr. Home at 6 P.M. eve. Very cool. W.N. hazy.

20th. Dug potatoes 6 hours for Mrs. Bertie Barnes (nee Clapp) — 1.50. Had dinner there. Very cool; par. clou. to clear — W.N.E. Eve. cold. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve.

21st. Dug potatoes 6 1/2 hours for Mrs. Bertie Barnes — 1.50. Had dinner there. Par. clou. to clou. W.S.W. and S.E. arr. home at 2 P.M. began to rain about 7:15 P.M. Bought some milk at Mrs. Barnes’ — she gave me 2 qts. of buttermilk to take home. Played on the guitar 1 hour. 10 min. In eve. Rain all eve — light rain. Frost this A.M.

22d. Dug potatoes 6 hours for Mrs. Bertie Barnes — 1.50. Had dinner there. Fine weather — W.W. clear after 10:30 A.M. Eve. clear. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve.

23d. Worked 6 hours for Mrs. Bertie Barnes (fin. diging [sic] the potatoes in forenoon and harvested the corn and stalks and house them in aft. — 1.50. I had dinner there. Her daughter Mrs. Dorothy Wilder there to-day.

Frank Howard annual spring catalog
Image from Frank Howard’s annual spring catalog of reliable “seeds that grow”, tools and machinery (1916).

PAGE 349

Her two little granddaughters — Priscilla and [blank space left for name] with me most all the time — helping me. Mr. Israel is a cripple, and Mrs B. runs the farm. She sent me a pint of buttermilk in eve. Clou. to par clou. To-day; W.S. to S.E. damp eve. Cloudy. Raked and cocked up some hay for Mrs. M.G. Seaverns after dark — (15 min.) Played on the guitar 1 hour, 25 m. in eve. Met Mrs. Eva [blank space left for name] in Mrs. Seaverns’ store early in eve. She introduced me to her step-daughter, and invited me to call at their place at No. Scituate Beach.

24th. Cloudy; W.N.E.; tem. 50-55. In aft. went to Hingham — to Henrietta’s. Had dinner there — spent aft. There. Ret. on 5 P.M. tr. Saw Lottie (Mrs. Whiton) just as I was about to get aboard a car — she came from Boston on same tr. I came home on — she lives in Groton, opp. N London, Conn. and came on a visit to her mother’s (Henrietta.) Eve. cloudy, W.N.E. 10 P.M. Stars look very small — hazy — sign of storm. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve.

25th. Went to Hingham Cen. Great auction at Henrietta’s — furniture, pictures, and many kinds of goods sold. I worked there at geting [sic] the things out of building and assisting in the auction. Ethel and I assorted [sic] the things, and I helped Arthur Whiting to move them. Had dinner and supper there. Lottie got the dinner and supper. Road about 1/2 way to Cohasset Sta. with James H. Merritt in auto-truck — had a load of vegetables, fruit, and etc. Then I walked nearly to N. Cohasset Sta. (3 miles) — then rode to Henrietta’s with Mrs. [blank space left for name] Hall in her auto. Mrs. Binney, her mother, and Mrs. [blank space left for name] Merritt with her. She invited me to ride back home with them but I went back on tr. from Hingham Sta. 7 P.M. tr. arr. N.S. 7:15 P.M. Par. clou. W.N.E. and S.E. good weather. Eve. clou. Played on the guitar 1 hour in eve.

26th. (Sun.) Warm weather, W.S.W. tem. 76. Late in aft. went to Egypt Beach — via Mann Hill. aft. clou. just as I arr. there it began to rain. Staid [sic] on the veranda of a house near the beach. At 3:45 P.M. started for home — arr. 4:30 P.M. walked 3 m. in 45 min. Eve. cloudy. Warm. Light rain at times.

27th. Went to Hungham (9:12 A.M. tr.) Walked to Hingham Cen. and helped at the Auction — assistant to the auctioneer (Chauncy O. Davis, Hanover Cen., Mass. Tel — Hanover — 79-5). Ethel and I selected the things and I carried them to the auctioneer’s stand (near there) and Arthur Whiting placed them where people could see them. Auction began at 12:33 P.M. and finished at 6 P.M. Everything in all the buildings were sold. Arthur Whiting lives in West Hanover, Mass. Ethel H. Studley administrator of the estate. Had dinner and supper at Henrietta’s and staid all night. Arthur W. and I carried some furniture back into the large barn — for Mr. O. Smith, and he gave us each 50cts. Clou. A.M. fine weather after 11 A.M. Ethel played on her new piano in eve. Clou. W.E. in eve. Rain late in night.

28th. Staid at Henrietta’s. Helped Mr. Smith get his furniture out of the building (about 1 hour). He paid me 50cts. Did some chores on the place. Lottie went home this forenoon. Frank went to Scituate in eve. in his auto: to bring his mother home. Ellen came to Hingham with them — for a visit. I staid all night. Ethel played on the piano over an hour in eve. Very warm weather — W.S.W. […] temp. 82. About 5:30 P.M. par. Clou. — wind changed to N.W. very windy. Very cool in a few […] cold and windy all night. Henrietta and I danced the Mazurka — Ethel played it on piano.

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29th. Staid at Henrietta’s until 1 P.M. Did some chores. Had dinner there. Mrs. Keenan worked there to-day. Ethel gave me $5.00 for assisting at the auction — and Mr. Smith gave me 1.00 for work I did for him. Made $6.00 in all. Henrietta gave me some pieces of cooked meat to bring home. Came back on the 1:50 P.M. tr. Saw Ellery F. Hyland near Hingham Sta. One of the tires on his auto-truck was punctured — I loaned him $8.50 to get it repaired. Late in aft. Chopped old board and planks 1 1/2 hours for Mrs. M.G. Seaverns — 30. Very cool day and eve. Played on the guitar 1 1/4 hours in eve.

30th. In forenoon swept and cleaned the Bates & Wilder Store for J.H. Vinal — has been using it to store goods in — is done with it now — lease expired. He gave me all the wood and boxes, a table, 2 flour bags (cloth) and a broom for cleaning the store — and brought them here in his grocery wagon. In aft. Worked 1 2/3 hours for Herbert Bates 45.– transplanting grape vines (4) also transplanted a rambler rose bush for Mrs. Mary Wilder (his sister) they live in a house close to the river — I got the water (to water the vines) from the river — then I transplanted 3 grape vines for Russell Wilder — 1 hour — 30. Then I picked up a small load of kindling wood — where the laundry building (close to my house) was torn down and J.H. Vinal and I carried it to his place and put it in his cellar. 1 hour — 25. Was dark then — then I got some of the wood for my use and put it in the house. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. Cloudy; W.E. to S.E. damp. Eve. clou.

31st. Picked wood out of the pile of rubbish where the old Chinese laundry was torn down. Also got some junk. Rain nearly all forenoon. W.S.W. clou. aft. and eve. W.E. Played on the guitar 1 1/2 hours in eve. Have worked 7 hours in all where the laundry building stood.

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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. The catalog record for the George Hyland’s diary may be found here. Hyland’s diary came to us as part of a collection of records related to Hingham, Massachusetts, the catalog record for this larger collection may be found here.