Special Collections Department
DIARIES, SCRAPBOOKS, AND OTHER AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL EFFORTS
Avocational Efforts - Amateur Memories
sheep, or taking Sominex. I think counting the kind people one has known would
be more soothing and worthwhile!
Autobiographical efforts, and successful ones at that, are not confined to professional writers. Retirement often provides the time for projects such as life review, as is the case with most of the individual recollections presented here. George Messersmith was fully aware of the historical importance of his prominent diplomatic role in pre-World War II Germany and Austria and planned a memoir, which he unfortunately never completed. At the urging of her daughter, the aging photographer Gertrude Kasebier collected a few random memories which her daughter later used for a biographical sketch. Wanda Larsen and Louise Johnson are comparatively unknown individuals, but they both managed to complete their autobiographical projects. Johnson's memories are presented in a flowing stream-of-consciousness, but Larsen's carefully developed narrative is a detailed chronology recalled from events which evidently made lasting impressions. Her self story is about proud identification with her Polish-American heritage, and it also bears witness to great love for the husband who supported her in life work toward a personal goal. Larsen and the other "amateurs" here appreciated their lives enough to remember them, and to record those memories.
Wanda Blazejowska Larsen, 1910- .
Dear and Not So Dear Memories, 1995-1996.
Typescript (515 pp.)
from Wanda Larsen papers
Louise S. (Louise Staton) Johnson, 1882-1977.
A Narration of Many Memories, Several Detours, and a Few Thoughts, June 1975.
Typescript (copy) (177 pp.)
from Louise Staton and Everett C. Johnson papers
Gertrude Kasebier, 1852-1934.
Autobiographical notes [n.d.]
Typescript (27 pp.)
from Gertrude Kasebier papers
Reminiscences of Wilmington, 1880s.
Holograph manuscript (22 leaves)
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs
- Crossing Orange, the hay scales stood in the middle of 4th Street. Another
Market house too stood in the middle of the square just passed. The butchers
even did not use it often but once a week; & it was a ball alley for the boys, & a
lodging place for tramps. The wind & dust whirled thru it like a huge funnel for
there were no houses to break its force, as it swept down from Quaker hill, except
on the north side, a neat little frame next Fletcher's at the corner. The frame was
owned by Abraham Shadd & his wife Amelia, grandparents of Williamson the
Jeweller in the Institute building on Shipley St.
Worrel's reminiscences describe Wilmington, Delaware, block-by-block as she remembered it to be "in the past time, in 1815 and the '20s." She includes residents, houses (often telling who built them and who lived there previously), and businesses. Ferris, Canby, Gilpin, Latimer, Grubb, Mendenhall, Richardson, Griffin -- all the old families appear. In addition, Worrel provides lists of her classmates at the Friends School, 1817-1820, and members of the Wilmington Meeting, recalled by their seating order in the pews. As if to answer the question of why she might bother with such detailed recollections, Worrel defended her writing, "These notes are taken for my own interest to remember them." She was quite wrong when she added, "Alas, they will not be appreciated by those who scarce ever heard of their existence."
Grace Lloyd Walsh, 1896?-1992.
Mrs. Trobridge Marshall, February 25, 1990.
Typescript (3 pp.)
from Grace Lloyd Walsh papers
Among other creative hobbies of self expression, Mrs. Walsh dabbled in writing. "Mrs. Trobridge Marshall," a short autobiographical piece, follows the thoughts of a shop-owner musing over the success of her business and the elite social status of her customers. Grace Walsh sought the assistance of her friend, the author Hortense Calisher, in trying to get this story published.
Charlotte Shedd, 1913- .
Thank you, America, 1996.
Typescript (849 pp.)
from Charlotte Shedd papers
Born in 1913 in Klosterneuburg, near Vienna, Charlotte Kraus was a graduate of the operetta class of Franz von Perfall of the New Vienna Conservatory and also studied under Otto Preminger at the Reinhardt Seminar. She pursued a career in the performing arts until the 1938 Nazi occupation of Austria and application of the Nuremberg Race Laws denied her any opportunity to appear on stage. Her status as a daughter of a Misch Ehe (mixed marriage; i.e. her mother was "Aryan" and her father, though a Christian, had a Jewish background) meant that she was not a pure Aryan and could not perform in public. On Christmas Eve, 1938, one week before expiration of her Austrian passport, Charlotte Kraus immigrated to America. She arrived in Miami with twenty dollars and promise of employment as a nanny, but fortuitously met the internationally known singer Hildegarde von Sell, who helped arrange auditions and engagements at clubs in Miami hotels. After a few months, another serendipitous meeting led to Kraus's ride to New York City in the Cadillac of Earl Miller, Eleanor Roosevelt's bodyguard. Four months after arriving in America, Charlotte Kraus gave a recital before the Danish Crown Prince at Hyde Park and was warmly embraced in a friendship with the First Lady which lasted until Mrs. Roosevelt's death in 1962.
Kraus struggled with her singing career until her marriage to Clifford Shedd, after which they settled in Wilmington, Delaware. There, she found success as a radio personality with four programs, both AM and FM, on station WDEL. In addition to hosting classical music programs, Shedd was well known for her daily "Vignettes," interviews with local, national, and international personalities. Her international travels (toting a forty-pound tape recorder), performing experiences, and introductions via Mrs. Roosevelt led to interviews with everyone from Gloria Swanson to King Olaf of Norway. Charlotte Shedd received numerous awards, several of which recognized her dedication to the American principle of freedom. Mrs. Shedd often editorialized about the liberties of America, speaking with conviction from having lost personal freedoms in Nazi-occupied Austria. Thank you, America is Shedd's autobiographical appreciation of overcoming immigrant hardships and finding opportunities in her adopted country.
|Considering self works||Creating self works||Living & learning||Domestic diaries|
|Business & adventure||War diaries||Keepsakes||Word & deed|
|Inner journeys||Travel diaries||Professional writers||Avocational efforts|
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