The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Margaret Russell’s Diary, May 1916

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





Margaret Russell’s diary entries for May 1916 presented a puzzle which was solved through the collective sleuthing of archivists on social media. Early on in my transcribing I stumbled upon a word in the May 3 entry I could not decipher:



I posted the image on Twitter and by the end of the evening not only had the word been successfully translated (“sessions”), but the larger story behind the entry had been hunted down by curious followers. It turned out that in May 1916, the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America held a meeting in Washington, D.C. at which Margaret Russell attended as a Massachusetts delegate (she writes of being part of “the Boston Party”). Unfortunately, she fell ill while in D.C. and spent much of her time there bedridden. She reports on May 9th that “people [were] very kind in sending flowers.” She spent much of the month feeling poorly, though her diary also records afternoon drives and occasional social calls or family dinners.


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May 1916


1 May. Monday - Left on the 10 o’clock spent the night at Colony Club & saw Kate who is quite poorly.


2 May. Tuesday - Did a few errands, very hot. Met the Boston Party with Francis P. at 3.30 for Washington.

3 May. Wednesday. Opening of the sessions. Felt poorly and thought it was the heat. Lunched at Hattie’s. Drove with F. P. down Potomac. 

4 May. Still hot & do not feel well. Went to White House & thought Mrs. Wilson very attractive. Took drive to Chevy Chase camp. Mass. party in evening.

5 May. Had a bad night & feel feverish so went for Dr. Handin who says it is [liver?]. Ankles red & swollen.

6 May. Saturday. In bed.

7 May. Sunday - still in bed.

8 May. Monday. Frances & all hands left. Miss Didier [illegible] came & is bright & pleasant.

9 May. Tuesday - People very kind in sending flowers. Still in bed but feel better.

10 May. Wednesday - In bed but days pass quickly.

11 May. Thursday - Like Dr. Handin so much.

12 May. Friday. In bed but better.

13 May Friday - Got up after lunch & went for hour’s drive with Hattie & then back to bed.

14 May. The same - Dr. Handin comes every day.

15 May. Sunday - left at 12.30 & got to N.Y. very comfortably. Spent night at Belmont also Miss. Didier.

16 May. Monday - Kate Cary came to see me. Said good job to Miss D-- & left on 12 o’c. Miss Ahler joined me at the Springfield. Not too tired. Family to dine.

17 May. Tuesday - Stayed in bed till lunch & then on couch for the rest of day. Felt the fatigue of the journey.

18 May. Wednesday - Sent for Dr. Smith who looked me over. Let me go to drive in the P.M.

19 May.  In bed till twelve - drive to Swampscott after lunch. Then rested. Margaret Bradley engaged to Roger [illegible].

20 May. Friday - In bed till twelve. Went out in my new car for long drive. Feel better.

21 May. Saturday - Out at eleven for errand & to see Aunt Emma. Rested & then to see M. Bradley.

22 May. Sunday - Stayed in till I went to lunch with H.G.C.’s. Then to drive & to Fall River Hosp. to see E. Murray. Family to dine.

23 May. Monday - Doctor says I have improved in all respects. Went to see Marian then Mary’s & after lunch to botany lesson.

24 May. Tuesday. Lunched at Alice Burn’s. Only Sallie Ames & Mrs. Bell. Went to dine & home to rest.

25 May. Wednesday - Errands in the morning. Went to Swampscott.

26 May. Thursday.

27 May. Friday - Walked down town & bought flag. Took a long drive.

28 May. Saturday - Great preparedness procession. Went out & walked about, great enthusiasm.

29 May. Sunday. Walked to cathedral. Photographer came to take the 4 generations. Baby was good. Family to dine.

30 May. Monday - lunched with Marian. To E & E & then Good S--. Saw Aunt Emma.Came home & rested.

31 May. Packing - Packing.


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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.


Image: Edith Wilson, no date. Portrait from the Library of Congress


permalink | Published: Thursday, 12 May, 2016, 8:00 AM