University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department


SELF WORKS:
DIARIES, SCRAPBOOKS, AND OTHER AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL EFFORTS

Inner Journeys

I was sitting in my study & heard a buzzing above my head. I looked & saw a fly
caught in a spider's web. And I noticed that, when the fly fluttered, the Spider at
once wrapped him with more cords; but when he lay quiet the Sp. was also still.
Ah! Thought I, Satan deals with the Soul in that way. When it is still, he is so; but
when it strives for freedom, he puts his cords around it. You must be diligent in
seeking the Lord. Never become dull.
- William D. Patterson, 1856

The earliest journals in America evolved from exercises of daily spiritual meditation and fervent prayer. Gradually, the secular self with routine concerns emerged. The nineteenth-century French journal intime popularized introspection, and modern diarists continue to explore issues of self-consciousness in their writings.


Athaliah Voorhies journal Athaliah Voorhies.
Journal, January 1, 1838 - December 24, 1844.
1 volume (48 pp.)
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

Athaliah Voorhies begins her journal with the new year and the lesson from the sermon preached by Mr. Henry Purkins at Allentown (Pennsylvania):

The next entry, on the 5th, records "doctor hutchinson was commited to the silent tomb their to remain untill the morning of the resurection." Thus the pattern of religious meditation and daily hardships is set for the periodic recordings in "Athaliah Voorhies her journal," also called "Athaliah Voorhies her Book," and "Athaliah Voorhies her journal of mind." In addition to regularly noting lessons from sermons, Voorhies records community births, deaths, marriages, accidents, and extraordinary weather. The closest glimpse of intimate feelings is only revealed in entries concerning social calls: "We went to James mcGalliards visiting it is pleasant to enjoy the friendly conversation of our beloved friends." The central role of the Church is reflected in the circle of Voorhies' acquaintances whose major life events are celebrated by the Church. Spiritual teachings pervade Voorhies' expression and observation of life around her: "to day John eldredg has buried his wife. how loud the call to prepair to meet our god."


Mary Avery White, d. 1861?.
Diary, March 7, 1852 - September 25, 1855.
1 volume (242 pp.)
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

Mary White diary
Mary White's diaries reflect daily life in the farming community of Boylston, Massachusetts, family life, and social activities, but her spiritual meditations and prayers are a part of nearly every short entry.

Weekly sermons and frequent prayer meetings were a major part of White's social life, and the common illnesses and deaths of the time determined the continuance of diary entries remarking on the uncertainty of life and the necessity of "diligence to duty" among the living. Her comments were prayers, but they were also spiritual exercises of self-consciousness about the work required for righteous living.


Emily Shore, 1819-1839.
Journal of Margaret Emily Shore, Vol. VII, from October 6, 1836 to April 10, 1837, at Exeter.
1 volume (174 pp.)
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

Journal of Margaret Emily Shore

Emily Shore was the daughter of a clergyman who took pupils at Everton in Bedfordshire, England. She and her two sisters were all precocious students, producing volumes of poetry together and demonstrating independent thinking in the diaries they kept as young women. The two volumes of her diaries at the University of Delaware Library reflect the entertaining and intelligent observations of Emily Shore. Her lengthy descriptions of daily occurrences include vivid character sketches and plot lines, and volume VII indexes "principal characters introduced, occasional characters, spoken of, books, walks, and sun-sets." But Shore analyzed the characters of herself, her family, and friends, as well as those she in encountered in books read. She wrote what she thought, about relationships, feelings, and concern for her fragile health. Shore's diaries show great deliberate work in her efforts to understand and express her intellectual, moral, and authentic self. Towards the end, as the finality of her consumptive illness grows more apparent, the spiritual becomes a stronger aspect of the inner journeys in her diaries.


Emily Coleman Emily Holmes Coleman, 1899-1974.
Meditations: Three Movements for Chorus. Words by Emily Holmes Coleman, music by Malcolm Williamson [n.d.]
Musical score (6 pp). Inscribed "Emily's copy. Much love and Sylvio bids me say with affection' Malcolm."

Diary, January 22, 1930.
Typescript with holograph corrections (2 pp.)

Pentecost, 1947 (Diary).
1 volume (83 pp.)

Reminiscences of the Maritains, September 3, 1966.
Typescript with holograph corrections (32 pp.)
from Emily Holmes Coleman papers

Emily Coleman was a lifelong, compulsive diary keeper, writing about everything and everybody. The diaries she kept as an American expatriate in Paris in the 1920s and 30s, and in England in the 1940s through the 60s, are valuable for chronicling relationships with literary friends such as Djuna Barnes, Peggy Guggenheim, John Holms, Antonia White, Dylan Thomas, Phyllis Jones, George Barker, Gay Taylor, and a number of other characters. But Coleman's diaries and other writings are also fascinating psychological revelations of her "passionate," "impatiently earnest" self on an anxious life quest. Coleman is always striving for something in her diaries -- for effectiveness as a writer, for a lucid mind, for passion in love, for spiritual grace. On her thirty-first birthday in 1930, she reflected on the "conscious effect" of Dante's simple ending to the Inferno and Goethe's words on putting his life in order, comparing her efforts to write and to live with self control.

Coleman's "spiritual odyssey" led her to the Catholic church. In her "efforts to discover God" she struck up a correspondence and later a personal acquaintance with French philosopher and theologian Jacques Maritain and his wife Raissa. She converted in 1944, and all of her writing afterwards was focused on her Catholic faith, which has been described as "mystical" and "fanatical."


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

Return to introductory page of this exhibition.

Return to List of Exhibitions at the University of Delaware Library.

Footer


Back to the UD Special Collections Home Page

Backgrounds for Special Collections' web pages are adapted from paper samples
from our extensive holdings related to printing and the books arts.
This is Gasen.

This page is maintained by Special Collections

Last modified: 12/21/10
  • UD Library Special Collections  •   181 South College Avenue  •   Newark, DE 19717-5267  •   USA
    Phone: USA +1 302-831-2229  •   ©2014