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Women's Diaries and Related Sources

Part 2: Sources from Birmingham Central Library and Birmingham University Library

Sources from the Birmingham University Library

Mss 6/iii/30 1843-51 Mrs Lavinia F Bartlett

This red quarto diary is divided into three parts: (a) Details of a trip to Paris, 20 May - 23 Jun 1843, pp1-65; (b) Miscellaneous extracts of poetry, etc, pp67-87; and (c) Details of a trip to Pyrenees and Riviera, 27 July 1850 - 29 Apr 1851, pp88-202. Although abounding in Guide-book information on churches, monuments and the like, the two tours are very revealing of the personality of the writer. The first sight-seeing tour to Paris in 1843 was in company with her husband, Charles Bartlett. They had been married for 11 years and this particular diary was written for her five young children by their fond and anxious mother. The second tour was in search of health on her husband’s part, accompanied by three of her daughters and a niece, to the thermal baths of the French Pyrenees, followed by a tour by way of Toulouse and Montpelier, along the French Riviera, to Nice, where they wintered. They then proceeded along the Italian riviera, the diary finishing abruptly in Genoa. The two diaries are a fund of information concerning mid-nineteenth century tourism, with revelations concerning hotel accommodation, food and travel discomforts.
Mss 6/i/35 1877 A young woman

This is the diary of a young woman living near Bath in 1877. Her son (?) Ben is thrown from a pony carriage on Monday 4 June, and grows delirious and sick. The diary describes her anxiety as she nurses him back to health. He first speaks her name on the 10th, and regains full consciosness on 1 August. 72ff.

Mss 6/iii/27 1802 Anonymous

A Journal of a tour to Paris in 1802. 65ff plus some loose items including some sketches of views and statues. There is "A scetch of the Character of Buonaparte.... Buonaparte, like most of the Heroes of Antiquity, continually tells us that the object of his arms is to give liberty to the world, at a time when he is extending his conquests to almost every part of it."

Mss 5/iv/7 1851 Issy. The first trial.
Mss 5/iv/8 1850 Issy. "Lady Noble's Ball" and "A word to the wise".

Whilst not a diary, this pair of tales provides a humourous and revealing account of a Ball, as well as describing the aspirations and experiences of two young girls during the "most interesting period of their lives." Illustrated with 14 naive but charming pen and ink drawings, these tales were written by Issy, of Bond End, Knaresborough, and dedicated to her aunt Ann. The following extract provides a flavour of these tales:

"Mr Gibson where is your wife? Upstairs, eh? Oh! Here she comes! What a beautifully classical style.... how becoming is her simple white dress fitting close to her shape exposing rather too much of her splendid bust.... Captain Smith and Lieutenant Leynes, you are wasting all your glances for sweet Ellen Gibson loves her husband....Yes! plain, heavy looking, and unintellectual as he appears, and is...."

Mss 10/iii/15 1823-27 A farmer’s wife

A Family journal, 1823-27, of a farmer's wife living on the Warwickshire-Leicestershire border. The entries vary fro 4 lines to half a page and provide a good account of daily life. 84ff.
"The beginning of another year. God knows how many of us in this house will live to see the end of it." (1 Jan 1823)

"Great alterations in the whether since last night the frost going very fast foggy all the day. We did not go out. Mr & Mrs Hounslow call to say that they left Lutterworth at Morrow if I had anything to send my Boy they would take for me. Nothing particular occured - very gloomy night - we retired to Bed past 11 o clock." (2 Jan 1823)

Mss 5/iv/4 1837 A young lady

Journal of a tour from Leeds to Scotland and to Lichfield by a young lady, 1837. 63ff.

Mss 7/i/5 1855-56 A M Tiernay

A journal of a six months residence in Bonn, October 1855 - April 1856, written by A M Tiernay of Malvern Wells, who travels to Bonn accompanied by her Mamma, Agnes, Harriette & Matt, and Miss Fooks, presumably their governess. They travel by paddle steamer from London to Rotterdam, and then up river, stopping overnight at various places en route - Emmerich .... "this dirty spot is the boundary of the Prussian Dominions. We no longer saw the pretty little clean villages of the Dutch, but the nasty dirty ones of Prussia ...." They pass through Thiel, Dusseldorf, Cologne - "....Mamma & Miss F went to Bonn from here by the rail road, while Matt & we walked about the town (a filthy smelling place): no pavements again, & the shops are very poor looking things ...."
They continue by river to Bonn where they meet their Mamma & Miss F who have found lodgings at the Belle Vue Hotel. "....We are very comfortable, Mamma & A have a room, Matt has one & Harriette & I
one, all of which open one into the other off the drawing room. Our rooms are on the second floor from the bottom. Miss F’s room is at the end of the passage & the School room is next to hers .... We are delighted to think that we are English when we see the way in which the Germans go on - The men sit with their elbows flat on the table & lap up the sauce with their knives. The smells in the streets of Bonn are dreadful, the Germans are very coarse in their manners, especially the women .... Oct. 22nd .... unpacked all our things & settled ourselves for the Winter .... discovered Mr Hensler the Music Master .... Oct. 27th .... Miss Schmidt (the German Mistress for Agnes & me ) .... she is to come four times a week. Herr Ghener (the Master) came afterwards he is to come three times a week for Matt & H Naddan the French M is to come three times also ....
" The journal goes on to describe their daily walks, visits to church (the English church, to which they go at least twice every Sunday), the things they see in town, their table d’hote meals in the hotel, & meetings with various English friends they know in town ...."Mamma says no wonder the servants are so cheap here, for they are fithy looking, that even Louisa the Malvern Wells scrub if she had her hands & face washed would look better than the servants who open the house doors do about here, & Matt says he would rather live in a clean English pigstye than in these beastly holes .... 5th [Nov.] Guy Fawke’s day in England .... we are all hard at work now, German, French, Music, &c .... The Gs are nothing short of pigs; one man walks about here in the passage smoking his cigar, & fills the whole passage with a smell of stale tobacco, & even in walking up & down stairs one is obliged to hold up one’s dress as you would get it all over messes & dirt. The Rhine is the only nice part of this place .... 27th. A foggy day, we did not go out. I played with little Pitt at battle door .... Mrs P asked Miss F & me into their room which is a good deal too snug for a discontented man as Mr Pitt. Naddan informed us the other day that he taught Prince Albert French & that he has had the honour of breakfasting with him ...." There is a description of Christmas in Bonn .... "31st Dec.... At five went to the Jesuits Church to hear the Roman Catholic Service which was horrible .... the Priest went up the steps of the altar in a cloud of incense .... then he went up again and with a funny twisting of something up above the altar which we could not make out, & with that came a great puff of incense into the Church & that was the end. A grand case it was of squeezing & pushing to get out of the Church being so full. New Year’s Day .... We went to hear high mass in the Minster & a dreadful mockery it was ...." The journal continues with day to day happenings in Bonn, and a description of a trip up the Rhine with descriptions of places visited - Mainz, Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Mannheim, but the actual dates are not present. ".... April 1857 (there is some confusion concerning the actual date which is inside the front cover; it is shown as 1855, but this later entry refers to her having left Bonn in April 1857) Matt H & I left Bonn by the 9.20 a.m. train - via Dusseldorf - .... We arrived at Paris at five minutes after nine on Saturday evening the 18th ...." They travel by omnibus to a Guest House (Pension) where they are to stay, and after a description of the House and its inmates, a visit to the Madeleine, they get to the Arc de Triomphe, where the journal ends.

The journal is wriitten on 185 pp. The writer is presumably a girl in her early teens. The journal is written with humour and keen perception of people and things she sees. The young girl certainly likes the Rhine but hates many aspects of life in Bonn - leading to her unflattering remarks about the Germans.

Mss 1845-46 Annie Lambert

Two volumes of a mid-nineteenth century diary by Annie Lambert, daughter of John Lambert of 33 Tavistock Square, London, a wine merchant. The first volume covers the period Jan-Sep 1845 and gives a fairly detailed record of middle-class family life in the early days of Queen Victoria’s reign. Walks or drives are taken to Esher, Addlestone, Hersham, Sunbury and Walton-on-Thames (4 July "Took luncheon at the Duke’s Head; the landlord a very civil man") and visits are paid to friends (19 Mar "Called on Mrs Stevens at Dulwich. Saw her child, which is a monster of fat.") There is gossip and intrigue, notes of visits to the theatre and concerts, shopping ("walked to the Bazaar, bought 2 camp stools & some ribbon for trimming our bonnets"), and, on a more serious note, the occasional visit to a junior school, where she observes the children’s progress & chats to the schoolmistress. The volume ends rather abruptly with a jaunt to Sunbury on 22 Sep: "looked in vain for Arthur" are the final words. The inside back cover has some sketches of female heads (see opposite page 33).

The second volume begins in Nov 1845 when the family was about to start a visit of nearly twelve months to Oporto in Portugal, where Annie’s brother John worked in the port wine trade. The young woman evidently had a pleasant time of it, finding Oporto "a much more civilised kind of place than I had expected" and taking full advantage of dances at the Assemblee, socializing with other families in the wine trade (such as the Sandemans) and sharing the company of officers from visiting warships. The Lamberts returned to London on 2 November 1846, when the journal ends, neatly filling the volume with the remark: "The rooms appeared so small after the spacious chambers to which we had been accustomed and the streets looked so gloomy as we passed through the fogs of London; affording a sad contrast to the blue skies and clean air of Oporto." This volume, like the first, has a sketch on the inside cover, this time of a couple youths annotated "I wish people wouldn’t draw absurdities in this book" and initialled A.E.G.C, almost certainly the initials of Annie’s married name. 50 ff and 162ff.

CMS F4 (Acc 22) 1930-33 Nancy H Corby

The first of the diaries from the Church Missionary Society Archive, these three volumes are written in a clear hand and comprise:
Part 1: Walker’s diary for 1930, a lot on teaching and education;
Part 2: Summer Holiday, 1931;
Part 3: "Nine hundred miles of motoring in Central Africa."
c80ff, 40ff and 60ff.

CMS F23 (Acc81) 1838-39 Martha Venn

A small diary kept by Martha Venn in 1838-9. c20ff.

CMS F5/1 (Acc 88) 1888-96 Anonymous

An anonymous diary recording visits to Paris in 1888, 1893, and 1896 and recording part of a voyage from England to Mombassa, (1927?)

CMS F1 (Acc 4) 1902-06 Frances Dennis

Letters and journals of Frances Dennis (sister of Archdeacon Dennis)
while stationed at Idumiye Ugboke, Southern Nigeria, 1902 - 1906. Comprises: Letters for 1902 (c59ff); 1903 (c127ff); 1904-05 (c141ff); and 1905-06 (c329ff); and 6 volumes (c33, 56, 76 130, 80 & 78ff).

REELS 5-11
CMS F1-8 (Acc 21) 1894-1939 Edith Baring-Gould
Volumes 1-6
Volumes 7-12
Volumes 13-18
Volumes 19-24
Volumes 25-30
Volumes 31-36
Volumes 37-41

Diaries and photograph albums of Miss Edith Baring-Gould, 1894 - 1939. A most impressive series of travel journals. Volume 1, for instance, encompasses Paris, New York, Niagara, Toronto, Winnipeg, the Rocky Mountains, and British Columbia as she toured North America. She then departed from Vancouver on board the Empress of Japan and later arrives in Yokohama. There is much on her experiences in Japan. As a further example, volumes 3 and 4 cover her travels when accompanying the Church Missionary Society delegation to the Far East. These journals can be usefully compared with those of Helen Caddick (see Reels 13-18).

CMS F7 (Acc 81) 1815 Emelia Venn

Diary of a tour abroad in 1815, including France, Switzerland, Worms, Liege and Waterloo. Emelia Venn was 21 at the time of writing.

CMS F2 (Acc 162) 1914, 1929 Mrs W C Shaw

Diaries of Mrs William Compigne Shaw, 1914 and 1929. 2 volumes.

CMS F1-3 (Acc113) 1899-1937 Mary Ellen Brighty

Diaries and Papers of Miss Mary Ellen Brighty, 1899 -1937. F1 is a single volume and consists of carbon copies of letters sent to England describing her first impressions of Yezd and of missionary work in Persia. It covers 1899-1901. F2 provides "My notes on the Journey to and in Persia" and begins 5 Oct 1899, continuing through to 1903. F3 consists of three separate diaries for 1920-30, 1902-08 and 1909-19. There is much more on Persia in these volumes.

CMS F1 (Acc 209) 1927 Isobel E Barbour

Journal letters of Miss Isobel E Barbour, 1927, describing her visit to Uganda and Kenya.

Sources from Birmingham Central Library

REELS 13-18
MS 908 Travel Diaries of Helen Caddick, 1889 - 1914

Volume 1: Palestine & Egypt, 1889
Volume 2: Canada & Japan, 1891
Volume 3: India & Japan, 1892

Volume 4: Java & Australia, 1895

Volume 5: South Africa & B.C. Africa, 1898

Volume 6: USA, Mexico & West Indies, 1900 - 1901
Volume 7: New Zealand, Panama & Peru, 1905

Volume 8: Peru, Andes & Buenos Ayres, 1905 - 1906
Volume 9: Cambodia, The Yangtze, Korea, 1908 - 1909
Volume 10: Cambodia, The Yangtze, Korea & Moscow, 1909

Volume 11: Uganda & Australia, 1912 - 1913
Volume 12: Philippines, China & Burmah (including Hong Kong), 1913 - 1914

This remarkable 12 volume set of travel diaries document the peregrinations of Helen Caddick around the world over a 25 year period. Handsomely illustrated with photographs, with fold-out maps added, and with an Index to locations at the front of volumes, these diaries were certainly intended to be read and to provide a memorial to her travels. They provide a valuable record of cultural tourism as the following extracts show:

Wednesday July 29th 1891 (from Vol. 2. Train journey across Canada)
"Passed Regina at 6.30 - quite a large place. Reached "Moose Jaw" at 7.15 and took on our Dining Car "Buckingham". Lots of Indians at the station selling buffalo horns. Saw lots of gopher, antelopes and birds. The Prairie very undulating (what they call "rolling") - lovely flowers, lakes and farms. Huge heaps of buffalo bones at the stations and saw many buffalo wallows, but the animals are all murdered off here and are almost extinct. Stopped at Aikins at 12, saw a good many Indians dressed in their gorgery and painted. The alkaline lakes are very curious, quite a thick white deposit round the edges. The Old Wives’ Lakes, pretty and lots of birds. Sir Lister Kaye’s farms and the Government farms looked very flourishing. At Maple Creek saw the "Black Feet" Indians and at Medicine Hat still more. A cattle train had just come in and out of it got a lot of "Cow boys" headed by a very tall fine looking (but dirty) fellow who we heard afterwards was brother of Sir William Gordon Cumming. He has a ranch near Calgary but is not much sought after by respectable Canadians ! in fact they say the specimens we send out are not very creditable to the Old Country. They think they may behave anyhow in Canada and are dirty and horrid. Saw several of the Mounted Police in scarlet uniform. For some distance it had been quite hilly, but after Medicine Hat the regular Prairie began again. At Langevin is a wonderful supply of natural gas, which was flaring away at the station - one of the engine boxes got very hot and we had to wait while water was poured over. Bow river very pretty. Had a great talk with Dr Fagan, who is a red hot Home Ruler, but was great fun as most Irishmen are."

Thursday September 17th 1891 (Vol. 2. Japan)
"Went with the Dimsdales to see a grand procession from Iyeasu’s Temple - the grandest procession except the one in April. It was a wonderfully pretty sight to see the different groups standing about in the Temple grounds. We sat just inside the granite Tori and saw everything splendidly. The Prince Imperial and the two little Princesses were there, we saw them come and go. He is a sturdy little fellow and was dressed in a white suit and sort of official cap. The Princesses were in Japanese dress and held the ladies’ hands. In the Procession was a wonderful dragon; a live monkey who much objected to being taken along; the old pony of Iyeasu (1600 years old and looking very fat and young) brown and white; a sacred shrine carried by an immense number of men (Iyeasu’s spirit supposed to be in the shrine); many banners; small boys in glorious old embroidered dresses and with wonderful crowns bearing the signs of the Zodiac; five priests on horseback; curiously dressed musicians playing flutes and things like bagpipes; warriors in armour of the old Diamio’s time; dancing girls etc.- an enormously long procession. The men carrying the shrine kept cheering and shouting. They started at 12. Mr and Mrs Dimsdale had Tiffin with me and afterwards Mrs Dimsdale went with me shopping and then to tea at Mrs Lindsleys, a very charming American lady. Mrs Cavendish who has the rooms above me is such a pretty woman and very nice too - her husband is Captain in the Argyll Highlanders. Mrs Heathcote also at Kanaya’s is wife of Lieutenant Heathcote on the "Mercury", she is a charming woman. Mrs Burges Watson has the rooms at Kanaya’s that Miss Bird had. Mr Wooton, head of the Engineering Department at Hong Kong and on the "Imperieuse" is very good fun. The Japanese ladies wear mostly quiet colours, dull blues, browns and greys. The working men wear a short blue overshirt (sort of blouse) with their badge in white characters on the back, and hats like inverted bowls. People who drive in carriages with horses are always preceded by a "betto", a running groom, to clear the way."

Tuesday September 29th 1891 (Vol. 2. Japan)
"Left hotel in Jinricksha at 8.15 and went to Aozama to see the Mikado inspect some troops. Had a good view of him as he drove in and out again - not as ugly as I expected and sits quite high in the carriage - black moustache of course - Barouche and pair of black horses, gilt harness, not much show as it was only a private inspection, preceded by Lancers, the two first with lances pointed forward and the two last with them pointed backwards - Immense parade ground. Rode home past Prince Imperial’s Palace and the Emperor’s Palace. The crowd as much interested in us as we were in the Mikado. Not a sound as he drove up, only everyone took off his hat. Sixteen Jinrickshas went from hotel, such a funny procession. I went with Mr and Mrs Thayer, Canadians - Lovely day - very hot. The grey stone walls and green banks along canals and moats looked very pretty. In the afternoon went down the "Ginza" among the Curio shops and by the Fish Market, then to the Asakasa Temple, a most curious place, full of people buying and selling. In the Asakusa Temple is a picture of the "S.S.China" in a gilt frame - a bronze figure of the god of Medicine "Binzuru" is all defaced - Sick people rub his face and limbs wherever they have a pain and then rub their own - and get cured ! "

Japanese Lady’s toilet (little Appendix in Vol. 2. - between p102 and p103.)
"She brushes her teeth and scrapes her tongue with the handle - scrubs her face with a soft brush dipped in perfumed face powder, and touches her lips with rouge - then puts on her day garments. 1st a square of cotton cloth folded round the waist, then the jibon (very splendid), then two or three kimonas - upon the outer one she ties low down a girdle of soft white crepe, taking a "round turn" higher up with the same piece. Then comes the "obi" 8 feet long, doubled and wound round the middle, brought up at the back through itself so as to hang in a loop to the hollow of the knees - then an elastic string is passed through the loop and lifting it up and being fastened in front the obi forms the broad lappet behind, so distinctive of a Japanese dress. A man’s obi is the width of your hand."

Friday August 9th, 1895 (Vol. 4. Sydney, Australia.)
"... A lovely day; spent the whole of it on the harbour. Went first to Manly. The harbour is beautiful. The entrance (the Heads) is very narrow between high rocks (reminded me of Knysna Heads) and opens into an immense harbour with lovely bays and nooks all round. Manly is right the other side from Sydney and a very favourite seaside resort. I have hardly ever seen a prettier place. About ten minutes walk from the landing on the harbour side, you come to the ocean - the roar of the waves was grand - and beautiful sands to walk along and rocks to scramble among. I got back at 1 o’clock. Had lunch and set off again at 2.30 to Watson’s Bay. Walked to the top of the hill and had a grand view over the "Heads" and ocean on one side and the harbour the other. Then on up to the lighthouse and found to my joy I could go to the top of it. The man let me go inside and see the light. It is a revolving one, lighted by electricity and of course made by Chances. Thick blinds were drawn all round, if they were not, he said the heat would be so great your clothes would set on fire if you went in when the sun was shining. Had a glorious view from the top. The accounts of the beauty of Sydney harbour are certainly not exaggerated. Took tickets at Cooks’ office for the Blue mountains and Jenolan caves and told them to take my passage on the "Miowera" for Fiji, August 20th. The buildings here are very good - The "Equitable " Life Assurance "New York" is the most magnificent I ever was in to inspect. The stairs, floor and walls are white marble, the pillars and panels are of coloured marble and the ironwork is exquisite. The porter said it was the same the whole way up. I only went up one flight."

Saturday August 10th, 1895 (from Vol.4.)
"Started by 10.15 a.m. train for the Blue Mountains. Lovely scenery nearly all the way, thickly wooded, mostly with gum trees, but some tulip trees and quantities of yellow whattle in flower (rather like broom) - very rocky, in shape like those in saxon, Switzerland. After passing Mount Victoria the line goes down a steep zig-zag ... at each corner the engine has to be taken off and put in front of the train. There was a bad accident a week or two ago and now it is forbidden for the engine to push...."

Thursday April 9th 1896 (Vol. 4. p380. Visiting old Convicts’ Prison in Tasmania)
"... I asked the convict to shut me in and close all the doors so that I might really feel what it was like ! he promised not to leave me long. When the old convict shut me in the feeling was terrible, and though he declared he only shut me up one minute it seemed five. Men were kept there for twenty-four and forty-eight hours and I did not then wonder at the size of the Lunatic Asylum they had found it necessary to build after starting the dark cell. Ashton said he had spent twenty-four hours there and felt more than half insane when he came out. The Asylum was a huge building and was always full. There are still some lunatic convicts left at the Hobart Asylum. There was also a Padded Cell for violent prisoners. When the convicts were moved from Port Arthur many of the cells were left locked up and it was not till the fire last year that they were got at - the doors were burnt through and people rushed to see what was in - some expecting to find skeletons ! - but there were quantities of leather for shoemakers’ work, books, papers etc. just as they were being used - heaps of papers and documents seem to have been left behind as if they went off in a hurry, or did not care about keeping them. ashton showed me the yard where they used to be tied to the triangles and flogged and also showed me the house where Smith O’ Brien was a prisoner. It was a ghastly system altogether. Some commandants seem to have been fearfully severe and take real pleasure in taunting and punishing the men - then another would come who went to the other extreme and was so lenient the convicts unused to kindness thought he was afraid of them and became unmanageable and thoroughly disorderly which of course led to another commandant being sent down who was more severe than ever ...."

Friday October 12th 1900
(Vol. 6. Boston. Cambridge, Visit to Radcliffe College; Women’s Education.)
"Telephoned to Miss Ware and she arranged to be here at 11 to go to Cambridge. Went to Cooks and settled my journey, then over the "Old South Museum" and back to Parkers’. Miss Ware came at 11 and off we went to Cambridge. Called on Miss Irvine, Principal of Radclyffe (Ladies College) - delightful woman. They don’t believe in "co-education" but consider it better for boys and girls to be separate, they study and work better. The girls’ work is exactly on the same lines as Harvard, the Professors are the same and they have an equivalent degree, though unfortunately it is not called the same. Girl graduates are allowed to take some classes at Harvard with the men. The girls’ College seemed admirably arranged. They have a very large area, but at present the old houses on the ground are adapted to their requirements and different departments are in different houses - one is a sort of Club and restaurant - another for the laboratories etc. - one new and very fine building is the Gymnasium - there is a large room splendidly fitted up for drill and exercises - near to it on the same floor are baths that they can take after their exercises - & below on the ground floor is a splendid large swimming bath and a number of baths and dressing rooms - each girl must take a bath before going into the swimming bath. Before taking a course of exercises the girls have to be examined and tested by a health officer (lady) sent from Boston and she orders what exercises they are to take if they are at all delicate. There are 420 women students at Radcliffe. After seeing thoroughly over that Miss Ware took me to see the old elm under which Washington took over command of the army - and the place where the spreading chestnut tree and the village smithy stood ! Then to see Longfellow’s house, such a pretty place. Washington stayed there too. Then we went to lunch at a "Creamery" just opposite Harvard. Several students were in, and each had to sit on a high fixed wooden stool (that revolved) up to the counter and your food was served there - a delicious milk and eggs and butter. Then we went to call on President Elliot and unfortunately found he was just going out to a meeting. He was a very pleasant fine looking man but with a terrible mark all over the right side of his face, just like Colonel Archer. Then we went to see the house where "Mary Ware" and her husband "Henry Ware junior" lived and where Harriet Ware was born - and also her grandfather’s house ...."

Monday January 14th 1901 (Vol. 6. Arizona.)
"... Professor Pickering (of Harvard Observatory), Mr Lowell and Mr Douglass were all at the Observatory in Mexico together. After dinner we went to Mrs Sykes’ house. Mr Sykes is an engineer, and a most interesting man. He is well educated and English - came out here quite young and has been a Cowboy, a prospector, in the Grand Canyon, and all sorts of things and has travelled in nearly every country. Mrs Sykes is English too and evidently of good family. She visited at Tamworth a good deal and knew old Miss Harding there. Saw the Zodiacal light in the sky so distinctly, I thought it came from some electric light in the town."

Saturday January 19th 1901 (Vol. 6. Arizona.)
"At 1 a.m. Mr Douglass came to my door to say we would go up to the Observatory. I was soon ready as I had only just gone to my room thinking he would not come, he carried a lanthorn as it was very dark and we had to walk more than a mile to the top of the hill. The Observatory looked very weird and it was a very uncanny sight. It was of course very cold, so Mr Douglass put on a lot of warm over things, woollen cap and woollen gloves - the caretaker (Alfred Hussey) had on thick wraps and I bundled myself up in two blankets. The Observatory was quite dark, except a shaded lantern and a bull’s eye one, that Mr Douglass kept on a small table with his paper and pencil, close to him, to make his observations. Mars was fairly high, so he had to crouch down on the step of the wall to look through the telescope. He took some observations first and then gave me a turn. The North Polar Cap was very distinct and after a time I began to see dark markings, these he made me draw on the paper exactly as I saw them and refused to help me at all with remarks as to whether they were correct or not till I had finished. Then he told me what canals they were and seemed greatly pleased that I had seen so much. After I had looked for about a quarter of an hour, he took a long turn again."

February 19th, 1909 (Vol. 9. pp148-149. China and the Far East.)
"... Dr Wang is Chinese, but was educated as a doctor at Toronto University and took her degree there. She is Chief Physician to the Wife of the Viceroy and gets a splendid income, and does private practice as well. The Viceroy is second in rank to the Emperor - when we arrived at Dr wang’s she received us in a small drawing room and gave us delicious tea in cups with lids and saucers with holes in for the Cup to fit into. Then we went to the dining room - The table was covered with a plain light oil cloth and on it were 14 small bowls with different things in to eat. We sat down and each had a pair of Ivory Chop sticks with silver points, a China spoon and a small saucer - Ham, Chicken, Red Haw Jelly, Shrimps, Pears, Cuttle Fish, 100 year old eggs, Bamboo, Pickled Plums, Raw Fish, Olives, Water Melon seeds, Peanuts. At a signal from Hostess we helped ourselves from any dish we fancied. Then came 14 large dishes in succession, each was placed in the centre of the table. They were made of Pewter, very handsome and had hot water underneath. at a signal we helped ourselves, or our neighbour helped us to choice morsels, Sea Cucumbers, Pigeon Eggs whole in liquid, Bamboo and preserved Cabbage, Chicken and onion Duck boiled - Meat turnovers in liquid, Egg pork and ham chopped and Fried - Fish fried and cut in pieces. Lotus Seeds in Syrup, "8 Precious Pudding" or "Empress Pudding", Rice Lotus, Dates, raisins, Almonds, Pickled Plums, Sweet Peas, sugar, Chicken and Ham, Pigs Trotters, Fish fried whole, Ham and Cabbage. Last 4 came on together & rice for us to put in our bowls and eat with them. Served in the order I have written. The small dishes remained all the time. Our little plates changed several times. Paper to wipe our chopsticks, and a hot wet cloth to wipe our fingers. Tea served several times and again in the drawing room before we left, and oranges peeled and quartered. Rice is brought on last but if you accept it you must finish all in your bowl to the last grain - bad manners not to. Before leaving the table small cloths wrung out in very hot water were brought for faces and hands."
MS 1199 1808-1906 Elizabeth Anne Galton

Reel 18 finishes with MS 1199 providing "Some Early Reminiscences of Elizabeth Anne Galton (Mrs Edward Wheeler) 1808-1908." It is in typescript format with contents listed at the front. (viii) + 212pp. Elizabeth was the eldest daughter of Samuel Tertius Galton, a prosperous Birmingham banker from an old Quaker family. Francis Galton (the eugenicist) was her youngest brother. Charles Darwin was her half-cousin.

This journal provides details about her grandfather Dr Erasmus Darwin; the Lunar Society; Boulton & Watt families; details of education from the age of 6; travel by stage coach & how expensive it was, nursery governess; departure in 1822 to school in Bath run by the five Miss Fourniers; descriptions of life at Bath; Lord & Lady Byron in London in 1824; description of "my first dinner party" at Dr John Johnstone’s (early 1825) after "I came out", being seventeen in February. There are also good details on social behaviour, etiquette at dinner parties etc; visits to see old Mrs Watt at Heathfield; puzzle letter to her niece Miss Emma Sophia Galton; money market panic of 1825; travel in the early nineteenth century; customs and dress for ladies; London connexions; Birmingham and further travels 1829-1832; Leamington 1832-1838; Coronation of Queen Victoria 1838; Scottish Pilgrimage 1839; Early Years of Married Life 1846-1857; and some final entries 1857-1865 which are rather more disjointed jottings about births, marriages, deaths & minor comings and goings. The extract below is taken from p57:

"Before I begin on 1827, I must mention some old customs of these times. First, in ladies’ dresses: we wore stays with very stiff bones, which we had to lace behind, from top to bottom, every morning. Our stays and petticoats all had shoulder straps, so that it was an effort to raise our arms. It was a great relief when elastic bands were made of India rubber for shoulder straps, and a still greater relief when doctors decided that shoulder straps were bad for health and they were discarded, when I was thirty or so. India-rubber, and afterwards gutta percha, only came into use for wearing apparel after I was twenty-four or twenty-five. We used to have ribbon sandals to our shoes, which were always coming untied. Doctors are now thinking it unhealthy for women not to wear shoulder straps and want them worn again; I recommend my young fiends not to give in to them. Our dresses all buttoned behind, so that we could not fasten them ourselves. another fashion which is quite obsolete, which I like, was that every woman, when she married, let her be ever so young, wore caps. It was very becoming and made them look matronly and mistresses of their houses.
In those days, wives did not address their husbands as "Charlie" or "Willie", but always by the full name, or by the surname. There was more respect than now. Till lamps for the table were invented, we used tall mould (not sperm) candles, which had to be snuffed constantly. Rich people burnt wax candles, which were very expensive. Game could not be sold; gentlemen gave their game to their friends, and as it was a rule that they should pay the carriage of it, it was an expensive present. I remember when we were at Boulogne in 1829, how we enjoyed the game we could there purchase. There were no "battues" in those days.
Postage was very dear, and the receiver of a letter had to pay it. we paid ninepence for a letter from London to Bath, fourpence from Kenilworth to Leamington, and sixpence [I think] from Derby. It was thought a wonderful feat when a coach could go from Birmingham to London in twelve hours. My Father remembered when the post woman, who carried the letters from Birmingham to Wolverhampton, gave it up because "the road was lonely". But in my young days there was a coach passing on that road nearly every five minutes.
My Father remembered the time when the roads were so bad that people always made their wills before going to London, and their teeth were quite loosened with the jolting. The ruts were so deep that to go one stage (about fourteen miles) a day was as much as could be done. Before you went, the custom was to ask whether there was good "quartering" on the road, which meant, could you drive easily on the edge of the ruts without falling into them. Besides this, in my Father’s time, there was the probability of being robbed by Highwaymen.

Copyright Notice

MS 1199: Some Early Reminiscences of Elizabeth Anne Galton (Mrs Edward Wheeler) 1808 1908

Please note that the copyright for this material is vested in Mr J A K Moilliet.  This material should not be reproduced in any form without his prior permission.

486807 c1790 Mary Russell

The Commonplace Book of Mary Russell of Birmingham, c1790 [II R13]. This contains a mixture of poetry and improving thoughts. Mary and Martha were the two daughters of William and Martha Russell, friends of Joseph Priestley. After the riots of 1791 in which Priestley’s house was attacked and their’s was burned down, they fled to London. They then left for America in August 1794 although they were taken by pirates en route and diverted to France for a while. The following volumes describe their adventures!

486799 1791 Martha Russell

Martha Russell's account of the Birmingham riots of 1791.

660347 1790 Mrs Martha Russell

Journal of a tour to Yorkshire, 1790.

660348 1794-95 Martha Russell

Journal of a Tour to America, 1794 - 1795, by Martha Russell, in four volumes.

660356 1794 Mary Russell

Journal of a Tour to America, 1794. 2 volumes.

The following interesting extract (Vol 2, pp28-29) compares a performance in Paris of the Opera "Castor & Polux" with a performance in London; also offering details of "Telemachus" with performance of the famous dancer Vestris; compares prices between London and Paris; and compares Buffon exhibit in Paris to the British Museum in London.
"... the scenery then changed to heaven & he descended apparently in the midst of the clouds - the scenery of heaven was more beautiful than anything I ever saw. We saw a representation of heaven & hell at the Opera in London but the French heaven was I must confess much superior in taste & beauty to the English tho’ the English hell was far more terrific & dreadfull than the French - Vestris the famous Dancer was ill this evening & could not perform - we therefore went again some time after to see him perform. The Opera was called Telemachus - it was very well rated. Vestris danced wonderfully. It is allmost incredible with what agility & ease he danced - several of the girls danced exceedingly well - the opera house is a very fine one but not equal in my opinion to the New Drury in London - both the play & Opera in Paris are exceeding(ly) cheap not a 3rd of what they are in England - . April 6 - went to see the Cabinet of Natural history arranged by Buffon of the Botanical Gardens - The Cabinet is a very curious & valuable one tho’ the arrangement is by no means so pleasing or convenient as the British Museum as glass cases in which the different articles are arranged are from the top to the bottom of the Ceiling & those which are in the upper part it is impossible to examine. The fossiles & shells are all arranged in classes; the birds and beasts are not numerous or curious. There are a few beasts alive - a fine Lion, some monkeys, a greenland bear, a Leopard & a few other small animals - the museum is open gratis 3 days in a decade - The garden is very large & pleasant ...."

MS 934/16 1913 Margaret Pigot

The diary of Margaret Pigott, nurse, 1913.

MS 596/1 1891-95 Mary Elizabeth Hall

The diary of Mary Elizabeth Hall, 1891 - 1895. 102ff plus one loose sheet. A rich account of society life. For instance:

"I have been very busy & like it, we are expecting a lot of people here on Tuesday to see the Prince & Princess of Wales, I hope I shall be in a good temper." Afternote: "The Princess came & everyone including myself was in a good temper. Jack was in prime form & took good care of me....

I love Jack more each week; he is so good, & oh! how thankful I am that I wrote to him as I did last February 19th 191? for I want to obey him, as much as I can, & how could I, if he had been a different way of thinking & had wished me to do things contrary to the will of my King?"
The diary ends shortly after her marriage.
592734 1822-32 Sarah Sargent

Diary of excursions to London, Lichfield, Cheltenham etc, by Sarah Sargent, 1822-1832. 67ff. There are some interesting observations on art and taste. For example:

"Among the Flemish artists, Rembrandt and Teniers seem to claim pre-eminence. The only fault I would find with Teniers is that his subjects are too low and there is a want of beauty in his designs."

MS 857 c1922-35 R & W Bayes

Travel Diaries and Notebooks of Rosamund and Winifred Bayes, c1922 - 1935. Volumes 25-65. These were kept as joint diaries and describe everything from archaeological digs and European travel to Family life and trips to the movies.

Vol 25 Joint Diary, 1902-04
Vol 26 Archaelogical Diary, 1922
Vol 27 Memoranda of European Tour, Aug 1928 - Apr 1929 Vol 28 follows on from Vol 27
Vol 29 "From the Baltic to the Aegean Sea", 1931-32
Vol 30 In the Balkans, 1932
Vol 31 Greece & Italy, 1933-34
Vol 32 follows on from Vol 31

Vols 33-55 comprise letters and reports about their travels. There is much on Greece and the Balkans. Vol 46 is entitled
"A study of the treatment of minorities."

Vol 56 Notes by Rosamund Bayes.
Vol 57 "My Affairs."
Vols 58-65 comprise photographs

None of the volumes are very large, making c495ff in total.
MS 1509/5/62 1924 Miss M C Albright

Diary of Miss M C Albright on a missionary visit to Madagascar, 1924.

MS 1368 1917 Miss Smythe

The diary of Miss Smythe's travels in France, 1917. 4 volumes.

259854 1744-1812 Miss Florry

The "autobiography of Miss Florry, 1744 - 1812." Miss Florry was born in County Meath and came to Birmingham in 1750. The daughter of John Florry, Ironmaster, of Cleobury Mortimer, who died 8 Apr 1788, she managed her father’s business for some years before he died. She died in 1832.

MS 1513/1-17 c1800 Sarah Robinson

The letters and diaries of Sarah Robinson, c1800. There are notes on Joseph Burgess and Samuel Johnson, mechanical drawings of engines, notes on sermons, poems ("A Narrative of Cowper’s experience written by himself - copied by S R"), descriptions of Moseley and other places and other items. A printed version appears at the end (1513/17).

MS 977 early 19th C Mary Taft

Diary of Mary Taft, wife of a Wesleyan minister.

311137 & 311141 1793-1850 Sarah Mary Breedon

Commonplace Books of Sarah Mary Breedon (1793 -1850). The Library holds 6 of her commonplace books. We reproduce two.

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