Journal of Adeline Baker now online

The journal of Adeline Baker has been transcribed and is now available under our Journals tab.  

Adeline Baker (1829-1856) grew up in the Crooked Lane neighborhood in North Duxbury, near the Marshfield line.  As a neighbor of Daniel Webster, the great statesman’s death shook her community.  She picked the day of Webster’s funeral to begin her diary: 

October 29th 1852

A more beautiful morn than this could not be desired even by the most fastidious.  And a great event has this day taken place in our own quiet county of Plymouth in our own sister town, Marshfield.  And event which will not only be pondered upon in its minutest details by our whole Nation, but the World will hear of it.

This day, this twenty-ninth of October Eighteen Hundred & Fifty-two, the mortal remains of Daniel Webster have been committed to the silent tomb…”

After such a lofty start, Adeline’s diary settles in to a more simplified tone.  She records her visits, chores and family events. Perhaps the most significant event in her own life came on January 6, 1853, the day she married William N. Jameson.  Weddings were not the extravagant affairs they are today.  Adeline’s entry of that day is rather matter of fact,  “This day has been rather a hurrying time. Jameson came over this afternoon. Daniel and Edward came home tonight. Father and Mother, Daniel, his wife, Edward, Levi, Wallace and Amanda all went to Mrs. Alden’s to see me married.”  The couple moved to Plymouth where Jameson owned a store and Adeline kept up her journal until April, 1854.

Unfortunately, any happiness she had as the wife of a young merchant was short-lived. Jameson died of consumption in 1855 and Adeline returned to her parent’s house. She died the following year at the age of 27.

Adeline Baker’s journal is part of the Capt. Edward Baker Collection (you can read Edward’s Civil War diary on his Facebook page ). Her journal spans almost two years and is wonderful glimpse into the day-to-day life of a young, 19th century woman.

Journals are here!

There is a new tab atop this page – Journals.  As we transcribe our many fascinating diaries we will be posting them online.  Currently a portion of Amherst A. Alden’s 1847 journal has been added.  Have fun reading about this adventurous 15 year old traveler and check back to see what our other diarists were up to.

WWI through a girl’s eyes.

In preparing for our upcoming WWI Letter Reading I took a closer look at a diary we have at the Drew Archives.  It is a small blue day book that once belonged to a Duxbury summer resident, Eleanor Stearns Young, in 1916 .  Fourteen year old Eleanor was a faithful diarist for the first quarter of the year, recording her skating and sledding adventures with her best friend, Phyllis Winch Twombly (Phy); her crush on Atherton (Atty); her “peach of  dress” and her desire for a “tin lizzy.”  But peppered throughout her tales of sunny winter days are hints of a sadder, darker world.  Her diary gives us a sense of what it was like to be a young adult during the tumultuous days of WWI.  Below are a few examples of her entries:

Wednesday, January 12, 1916

Going to Chin-Chin.  Good bye.  Went, had a simply corking time.  Montgomery & Stone were corking.  They had a clown band.  Simply great.  Grandma enjoyed it greatly.  Vera still presists in teasing me.  Father has a cold.  He gave me a ten dollar gold piece. I have got 152 dollars in the bank.  When I put this in I will have $172.  Gosh I am sure some rich kid.  Be able to buy a tin lizzy soon.  Mother is going to Mrs. T’s for a dinner next Wednesday.  Phy is coming over here.  My dress is getting on.

Thursday February 3, 1916

Damn those Germans.  The last raid in England they killed almost one hundred people.  Mostly women and children.  They are planning a new offensive to take Dunkirk and Calais.  They won’t get it though.  Phy to supper.  Got a little cold.  Went to bed early.  Gee, I could smash those Germans.

Monday, February. 21, 1916

10 below this morning.  Great fun riding lying down.  Awful cold. K. and G went too.  Just three of us.  Coasted all the afternoon.  Slept like a top.  The Germans on West Front capturing a few trenches.  Nothing new.

Friday, February. 25, 1916

Grandmother home from New York.  Brought me a red Chinese wrapper.  Great.  Went to school. Bad day.  Phy came to supper. Dressed in costume I am going to wear tomorrow night.  Germans are still giving it.  Kaiser is sending them on to slaughter like pigs.

Wednesday, March 1, 1916

Verdun attack calmed down a little.  Went to school.  Phy has bought of some of her spring clothes.  One of her hats looks awfully well on me.  Striped skirts are all in style.  Am going to have one suit.  Just wait til I get speeded up.

Friday, March 3, 1916

Germans on fresh drive for Verdun.  Oh well.  I guess we are very sure of a few things wave.  Katie came. I am having five white shirts made over from mother’s. Such is life.  I must be getting fat

Tuesday, June 6, 1916

Birthday

I am fifteen years old.  Lord Kitchener dead. He was on his way to Russia. The ship was torpedoed in the North Sea.  I am afraid this is a very disheartening thing to happen.  I never felt this sort of thing but I do now.  It seems so awfully queer.  There seems to be a black shadow always behind one.  The President of China is dead also.  This is an awful world. 

Shopped all the morning.  I got thirty dollars from Gram and Gramp.”

Eleanor’s diary does not continue after a few entries in early June.  Perhaps she left her diary her Brookline home when she packed for her summer house on Harrison Street.   Perhaps it became lost or she simply lost interest.  Whatever the reason, we are glad she wrote her mind for at least a few short months in 1916.

To hear Eleanor’s words come alive or hear other WWI letters, join us in the Wright Building on May 20, 2010 at 7pm.  The even its free of charge and, as always, refreshments will be served.  See you there!