University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department


SELF WORKS:
DIARIES, SCRAPBOOKS, AND OTHER AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL EFFORTS

Page from Florence Reynolds scrapbook

Keepsakes

I think I would give up the Journal entirely did I not see K's pleasure in looking through the bound volumes. The pictures & programs interest her now, but later she will like to read about events & the small happenings in her life. It is also quite a book of reference for me.
- Jessie Southard Parker, 1913

The stereotype of women as sentimental collectors of memories is born out in the pastime of keeping scrapbooks. The late-eighteenth century saw the popularization of pasting verses, sketches, and watercolors into books, and the proliferation of chromolithographic "scraps" in the Victorian era turned producing these books into a bona fide recreation. When women combined journalistic narrative with colorful ephemera and memorabilia from their lives, these creative collages reveal fascinating self stories.


Georgina Maria Cooper.
Copybook and poetry scrapbook, 1866-1900.
1 volume (187 pp.)
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

The copybook Georgina Cooper kept as a schoolgirl included lines copied for penmanship, sums, "miscellaneous exercises," rhymes, biblical verses, and dialogs "spoken by girls and boys at Ebenezer Church." Numerous deaths and marriages are copied from the Delaware Republican, a Kent County, Delaware, newspaper. On January 1, 1871, Georgina Cooper lists herself as teacher and identifies her pupils for School District No. 29 in Hollandsville, Delaware. In the later 1870s, Cooper continues her copy work with essays, poems, and hymns from camp meeting books. By 1885, her address is Pine Street, Philadelphia, and her gathered poems have been copied from the Atlantic Monthly or clipped from various newspapers.


Teresa Viele scrapbook Teresa Griffin Vielé, 1831 or 2 - 1906.
Scrapbooks, June 1870 - October 1871.
2 volumes
from Teresa Vielé scrapbooks

In the year 1870, prominent New York society members General and Mrs. Egbert Ludovickus Vielé sued each other for divorce on nearly identical grounds: adultery, insanity, and cruelty. General Vielé was accused of having an affair with Miss Julia Dana, and Mrs. Vielé with General W.W. Averill. The scandalous suits were further sensationalized by a custody battle over the Vielés' five children. In 1869, General Vielé had absconded with the children and his mistress, Miss Dana. Throughout the ordeal of trying to recover her children and divorcing her unfaithful husband, Mrs. Vielé kept these scrapbooks of "business letters, etc." Containing letters, newspaper clippings, and telegrams from attorneys and detectives, the scrapbooks document the high-profile divorce. In addition, they include evidence of sympathetic support for Mrs. Vielé's case: calling cards from remaining society friends (Mrs. Judge Roosevelt, Mrs. George McLean, Mrs. General Gates, and Generals Averill, Pleasanton, and Ingalls); invitations to balls, charities, or weddings; and programs for lectures, concerts, and church services.

Perhaps documentation of the drama appealed to Mrs. Vielé's literary instincts. Hers was a creative family. She had authored Following the drum: a glimpse of frontier life (1858), based on her experiences as a military spouse during her husband's tour in the American Southwest and fighting in the Mexican War. The General (1825-1902) published Hand-book for active service; containing practical instructions in campaign duties (1861). Their youngest son, Egbert Jr., accompanied his mother to France after the divorce and later changed his name to Francis Vielé-Griffin (1864-1937), gaining renown as a French symbolist poet. Older son Herman Knickerbocker Vielé (1856-1908) achieved fame as a novelist, playwright, and artist in New York, and was best known for Last of the Knickerbockers a Comedy Romance (1901). Teresa Vielé died in Paris in 1906 and was buried in Père-Lachaise Cemetery.


Florence Reynolds, 1879-1949.
Scrapbook, 1901.
1 volume
from Florence Reynolds Collection related to Jane Heap and the Little Review

Florence Reynolds scrapbook
Florence Reynolds' family moved from Stanton, Michigan, to Chicago in the 1880s, where her father established a prosperous insurance business. It was in Chicago that Reynolds met Jane Heap, co-editor with Margaret Anderson of The Little Review. Florence Reynolds became a lifelong friend of Jane Heap, providing financial as well as emotional support for Heap's various projects. Reynolds was graduated from the Lewis Institute in Chicago in 1901, after which she spent the summer and fall visiting relatives in Salt Lake City, Utah. The scrapbook she kept from that period includes clippings, invitations, theater programs, correspondence, game cards for social events, personal calling cards, and photographs. The ephemera and memorabilia saved by Miss Reynolds provides colorful documentation of social conventions and customs of upper middle-class society at the turn of the century.


Jessie Southard Parker Jessie Southard Parker, b. 1873.
Journals, 1899-1916.
9 volumes
from Diaries, Journals, Ships' Logs

Jessie Southard Parker was an upper middle-class resident of Belmont, a suburb of Boston where her husband practiced law. With awareness of keeping the volumes for her descendants, but mostly for her own entertainment, she created uniquely illustrated journal/scrapbooks which record experiences of daily life and reflections on national and international events during the first two decades of the twentieth century. Supplementing her written entries, Parker pasted programs from musical and theatrical performances, advertisements, calling cards, photographs, greeting cards, playbills, menus, ticket stubs, postcards, newspaper clippings, and other colorful ephemera.

Barnum & Bailey Circus, 1914 Birth of a Nation review, 1915 Postcards from Maine, 1908 Enrico Caruso program, 1909
The Jessie Parker journals are notable for their documentation of American recreational and cultural pastimes. In addition to attending Harvard football and baseball games, Parker was an avid theater-goer, taking in performances by famous stage personalities such as Sarah Bernhardt, Ellen Tracy, and Ethel Barrymore. She attended popular entertainments such as Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show, the P.T. Barnum Circus, and band concerts conducted by John Philip Sousa. She regularly attended her Thursday Morning Music Club for lectures and performances, and her diaries routinely feature critical plot synopses and commentaries on the novels, essays, and spiritual books she read. Reports on the growth and health of her two children reveal her interest in Christian Science. Her spiritual reflections express a desire to live with a stronger practice of "Science" and a greater awareness of efforts to improve her self. World events and national news are also included in the articulate, intelligent observations of Parker's journals.


The Girl Graduate Grace Lloyd Walsh, 1896? -1992.
The Girl Graduate: Her Own Book, June 1913.
1 volume (190 pp.)
from Grace Lloyd Walsh papers

                          Class Yell
          Bingting, bingting
          Bic-a-bock - a - birkting
          Wilmington High
          School
          Nineteen - Thirteen

Commercially produced by the Reilly and Britton Co. in Chicago, Grace Lloyd's scrapbook/yearbook is typical of the personalized memory book compiled by many graduating seniors. Designed with art nouveau graphics and illustrations, the book allowed the graduate to collect photographs, autographs, invitations, programs, and press notices, and to compose entries about her classmates, teachers, class officers, "jokes and frolics," and commencement parties. The class prophecy that Grace Lloyd would "achieve her highest ambition in posing for moving pictures" proved untrue, but Grace's best friend foretold her future more accurately: she pursued artwork in advertising and eventually became a successful businesswoman in Wilmington, Delaware.


Alice Dunbar Nelson Alice Moore Dunbar-Nelson, 1875-1935.
Diary, July 30 - August 30, 1921.
1 volume
from Alice Dunbar Nelson papers

African-American author, educator, and journalist Alice Dunbar-Nelson had long been involved in social, political, and cultural organizations before her 1902 arrival in Wilmington, Delaware, where she moved with her family after separating from her first husband, Paul Laurence Dunbar. In Delaware, she became extremely active in state and regional politics, and the emerging civil rights and suffrage movements. She was a popular public speaker, and her newspaper columns "From the Woman's Point of View" and "As in a Looking Glass" were syndicated for the Associated Negro Press.

Alice Dunbar-Nelson maintained an extensive daily diary for much of her adult life and surviving examples are included in her papers. Eight diaries, for 1921, and 1926-1931, were edited by Gloria T. Hull in Give Us Each Day: the Diary of Alice Dunbar-Nelson (1984), but the published volume hardly captures the ephemeral information preserved in the artifactual diary/scrapbook/journals. Dunbar-Nelson kept her diary piece-meal, typing entries when at home, writing by hand on any available paper scraps when she was on the road. The diary entries are pasted into a notebook, and supplemented with newsclippings about presentations she gave, publicity and broadsides of events in which she participated, programs of musical performances and "pictures," and telegrams. Dunbar-Nelson later called 1921 an unhappy year. The diary bears evidence to the pressures she felt of traveling to meet speaking engagements and struggling to produce The Wilmington Advocate, the progressive Black newspaper she published with her second husband, Robert J. Nelson.


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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