The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

This Week @ MHS

The library is hopping lately at the Society, while things are a bit quieter in terms of programs. Here is what is on the calendar this week:

- Tuesday, 26 July: "Women in the Era of the American Revolution" is a three-day teacher workshop taking place here at the MHS, that is open to educators and history enthusiasts. However, this workshops is SOLD OUT. If you would like to be placed on a waiting list, please call 617-646-0557.

- Friday, 29 July, 2:00PM : "Augustus Saint-Gaudens Civil War Monuments" is a survey of the life and work of the influential sculptor, focusing on his heroic, yet compassionate 1887 "Abraham Lincoln: The Man" (or Standing Lincoln) as representative of his method, art, and time. This talk by Jack Curtis will give students an appreciation of Saint-Gaudens' pioneering integration of architecture, landscape design, and monumental sculpture. This talk is free and open to the public. 

- Saturday, 30 July, 8:30AM : We end the week with another teacher workshop. Civil War Seminar is led by Joseph Fornier of the Rochester Institute of Technology and explores three themes: how the Union and the Confederacy justified secession and war; the idea of emancipation as a revolutionary form of war; and Lincoln's proposals for reconstruction of the United States as the Civil War came to an end in 1865. This program is open to all K-12 educators and is co-sponsored by the Ashbrook Institute at Ashland University, with assistance from the Lincoln and Therese Filene Foundation. Contact education@masshist.org or 617-646-0557 for more information. 

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Sunday, 24 July, 2016, 12:00 AM

Society and Scenery: The Travel Diary of Elizabeth Perkins Lee Shattuck

In May I traveled to Europe for the first time, keeping a travel diary throughout the trip. It was probably the longest run at journaling I've managed to keep, partly because I felt this experience was more noteworthy than my regular routine. More importantly, I didn't want to forget the details of what I experienced. Travel diaries, and diaries in general, allow us to record our daily lives, passing thoughts, and observations on any given day. Years from now, we can look back on what we wrote and experience that pesky yet pleasant sense of nostalgia (or, in the case of many a teenage-years journal, embarrassment).

To see how other travelers had journaled about the places I visited, I searched our online library catalog, ABIGAIL, to find women’s travel diaries of different kinds. Some are introspective; others read more like a daily log of events and observations. Many are text-only while others include drawings, watercolors, and ephemera. The travel diary of Elizabeth Perkins Lee Shattuck, for example, is accompanied by a sketchbook with scenes captured throughout the writer’s journeys between 1868 and 1870. Elizabeth Perkins Lee, daughter of Henry and Elizabeth Perkins (Cabot) Lee kept this diary during her travels in Italy, France, and England between January and May 1869.

 

In her diary Lee records daily activities, sights toured, and social visits. She takes particular interest in describing the art and sculpture in Rome, frequenting the Villa Borghese and the Sistine Chapel. Lee notes after a trip to the Vatican, “Michel Angelos’ Pieta grows up me each time I see it.” While in Rome she celebrated Carnival from a balcony trimmed with bouquets, met friends for tea, and attended the Apollo Theatre, which she describes as “quite jolly and funny.” After her time in Rome, Lee traveled by rail to Florence, then through Geneva, Lyon, and Dijon toward her final European stop of this travel diary, England. She toured Eton and spent time admiring the art at the National Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

 

 

Among the individuals mentioned in the diary are members of the Longfellow family, including Thomas Gold Appleton, Ernest Longfellow, and Hattie Longfellow; Lee’s uncle Francis L. Lee; her cousins Edward Perkins, Mary Perkins, and Charles Callahan Perkins; her future husband Frederick Cheever Shattuck; George Bemis; Frederic Crowninshield; and members of the Warren, Paine, Forbes, Curtis, Sewall, and many other families. A few entries discuss freedmen in America and the West Indies; American grievances against the British after the Civil War; and the Fifteenth Amendment.

While a large number of diaries in the MHS collections focus on Western European travels, others highlight trips to Cuba, New Zealand, Canada, and the Midwestern United States. If you're interested in learning more about nineteenth-century travel and society - of if you're simply in need of a vicarious vacation - visit the library for a closer look at Elizabeth Perkins Lee Shattuck's travel diary and sketchbook, as well as others:

(For a more complete list, see Women travelers—Diaries in ABIGAIL.)

 

Mary Gardner Lowell diaries, 1823-1853. Diaries of Mary Gardner Lowell of Boston and Waltham, Massachusetts, 1823-1853. Travel diaries describe a voyage to Cuba with her husband Francis Cabot Lowell and infant son George, 18 December 1831- 3 June 1832, including time spent in Havana, on the slave plantations of the Matanzas province. Entries describe travel conditions of the voyages and coaching, sights seen, social and cultural observations, friends visited, the weather, and social engagements.

Lorenza Stevens Berbineau diaries, 1851-1869. Three personal diaries kept by Berbineau, servant to the Lowell family, kept while on a trip to Europe with members of the family (1851-1852).

Anna Peabody Bellows travel diary, 1864. Travel diary of Anna Huidekoper Peabody (later Bellows), kept on a trip to England, France, and Switzerland, 16 March-14 August 1864. Entries describe the voyage via steamer from Boston, as well as sightseeing, shopping, social calls, and other activities in Paris and other cities and towns. Includes pencil sketches and watercolors.

Aimee Rotch Sargent travel diaries, 1874-1875. Diaries kept by Aimee Rotch Sargent, 1874-1875, while traveling from New York to England and through Europe with her husband, Winthrop Sargent, describe the ocean voyage, her constant seasickness, social gatherings and engagements with acquaintances, parks, museums, and other cultural institutions visited.

Ann Eliza Perkins Adams travel diary, ca. 1883-1884. Travel diary kept while on a trip by train from Boston to St. Louis and a voyage on the Mississippi River. Entries consist of short descriptions of sites seen from the train window; coach and carriage rides in St. Louis; and traveling on the Mississippi River, including sites seen from the boat, towns visited, events attended, and steamboats observed.

Jane Cummings diaries, 1902-1949. June-September 1911 travel journal records her voyage to Spain, Algiers, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, France, and England, describing cities visited, architecture, gardens, museums, cultural institutions visited, works of art, stories about fellow travelers, and the weather.

Martha A. Rapp travel diary, 1920-1921. Diary kept by Martha A. Rapp of Brockton, Mass. while on a voyage from Boston to New Zealand, 4 November 1920-7 May 1921. Martha traveled with her parents by train to Vancouver, British Columbia, then on the passenger ship Niagara to New Zealand. Her diary describes daily life at sea including games played with other passengers, storms; and various places visited in New Zealand.

 

 

comments: 1 | permalink | Published: Friday, 22 July, 2016, 12:00 AM

Madame Marie Depage in Boston

From 14-16 April 1915, Dr. Samuel J. and Wilhelmina (Galloupe) Mixter had a special guest at their home at 180 Marlborough Street, Boston. Madame Marie Depage was in town to drum up support for Belgian Red Cross field hospitals. She’d been traveling across America on a whirlwind fundraising tour, speaking about the suffering of the Belgian people after the outbreak of World War I. Dr. Mixter served as treasurer of Depage’s Boston fund, and the Fay-Mixter papers here at the MHS contain some fascinating papers related to the visit, including original correspondence from Depage.

 

 

 

Depage was a popular and high-profile guest. Her husband, Dr. Antoine Depage, was director of the Belgian Red Cross, past president of the International Congress of Surgery, and personal surgeon to King Albert I of Belgium. The king and queen had officially delegated Madame Depage, a Belgian nurse, to undertake this trip, and her comings and goings were covered extensively in American newspapers.

Americans had been generous in their aid to Belgian civilians living under German occupation, but medical care to soldiers in the field was sorely lacking. An article in the Rocky Mountain News quoted Depage as saying, “The conditions are so terrible you cannot imagine them. […] No men in the world can fight more bravely than the men of my country.” She wrote to the sympathetic Dr. Mixter, “You know what proper and urgent care means – one life saved, one limb saved means a family out of trouble after the war.”

 

I was particularly interested in Depage’s statements about wounded German soldiers. The Red Cross field hospitals she worked to establish treated injured allies and enemies alike. According to another newspaper article, she said, “When they were sick I never felt any different toward them than toward my own countrymen. They were simply poor, wounded men. It was only when they recovered and came to me in their gray German uniforms to say good-by that I felt it hard to treat them the same, but wounded men have no nationality.”

Depage used her personal charisma and professional connections to great advantage. She was unmistakably passionate, but pragmatic. She asked Dr. Mixter before her arrival, “Now can you tell me if a visit in Boston shall pay? I must put it in a very plain business way; you know this is not a pleasure trip and I may not think of what I should like or not like.” She thought smaller meetings in the private homes of wealthy Bostonians would be more lucrative than large gatherings. An individual visit, she knew from experience, would flatter her host into giving more: “I suppose Boston is a smart town where society leaders have a great deal to say. I have experienced that in Washington: if it was smart to go and listen to me the people came…and paid!”

Depage also had a personal stake in the cause. Her oldest son Pierre was a soldier in the Belgian army. When she heard that her second son, a teenager named Lucien, was going to the front, she decided to sail back to Europe to say goodbye. Unfortunately, the ship on which she booked passage was none other than the RMS Lusitania. She drowned when the ship was torpedoed by a German U-boat on 7 May 1915.

 

Depage had been euphoric about her fundraising success. On the morning of the Lusitania’s departure, she bragged in a letter to Wilhelmina Mixter, “I have altogether collected about $115,000.00 [in] contributions and about $50,000 in supplies. Are you not proud of America? I am! And specially of my Boston friends.” She was sorry that Mrs. Mixter hadn’t received an earlier telegram and protested “that you could believe for one minute that I forgot you! Please never do that, whatever happens for it can never be true.” In a previous letter, she’d called the Mixters “the best friends in the world.”

 

Wilhelmina Mixter was also very active in World War I work. She served on the general committee of the Special Aid Society for American Preparedness (SASAP), a women’s group that promoted military preparedness and national defense. The Fay-Mixter papers include meeting minutes and newspaper clippings documenting the activities of this group, which met just down the street from the MHS at 601 Boylston Street. In addition to the SASAP, Mrs. Mixter was involved with Emergency War Relief and sent care packages and supplies to soldiers. Some of my favorite items in the collection are these McCall sewing patterns for hospital clothing.

 

 

The MHS holdings include many papers related to World War I relief work, so we hope you’ll visit our library to learn more.

 

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Wednesday, 20 July, 2016, 12:00 AM

This Week @ MHS

It's a fairly quiet week-to-come at the Society. Here are the programs we have on tap:

- Wednesday, 20 July, 12:00PM : Stop by for a Brown Bag talk given by Craig Bruce Smith of William Woods University. "Atlantic Abolitionism and National Reputation: The Intersection of Ethics and Policy in the United States and Britain" frames the British movement to end slavery as a conscious effort to assert the country's reputation and moral superiority over the United States in the aftermath of the Revolution. It advances that American abolitionism, in turn, became a direct response to the British challenge. This talk is free and open to the public. 

- Thursday, 21 July, 6:00PM : Boston Historical. The MHS is pleased to invite the public and representatives of local historical organizations for a change to mingle and share recent accomplishments or the great projects they are working on. Registration is required for this event at no cost. 

- Saturday, 23 July, 10:00AM : The History and Collections of the MHS is a 90-minute docent-led walk through our public rooms. The tour is free, open to the public, with no need for reservations. If you would like to bring a larger party (8 or more), please contact Curator of Art Anne Bentley at 617-646-0508 or abentley@masshist.org.

While you're here you will also have the opportunity to view our current exhibition: Turning Points in American History.

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Sunday, 17 July, 2016, 12:00 AM

Margaret Russell’s Diary, July 1916

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

January.

February.

March.

April.

May.

June.

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

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

 

 

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

 

* * *

July 1916*

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 July. Friday.

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

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

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

11 July. Tuesday - Nahant for Ward lecture.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20 July. Thursday -

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

* * *

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

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

 

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

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