Marriage of Materials

November 2, 2012 at 8:12 pm (books, diaries, history, news) (, , , , , , , , , , )


Readers of Two Teens in the Time of Austen will realize how “collecting” together diaries and letters and other ephemera, with items spread over the world, can be frustrating, rewarding, and time-consuming.

So to read that a discovery – in 2007, after nearly 80 years (since the 1930s) – occurred involving the diaries of Mary Boykin Chesnut was just a thrill. I HAVE THIS BOOK:

I LOVE diaries, nice and thick; like this one.

An album, begun in 1861, was mentioned – but it was something Woodward’s book wasn’t able to reproduce. Mary collected photographs during and even after the war; adding to her collection. Mary then worked at her writing….

After Mary’s death, like so many items relating to the Smiths and Goslings, items probably were “gifted” to different people. A niece, who died in 1931, was possibly the last family member to have the three albums. What happened to the albums is the tale you will hear if you listen to this podcast from October 2011:

How did word get out about Mary’s albums? They were on auction in Texas, and listed on eBay! Family members purchased the albums, promising to gift them to the USC’s Caroliniana Library. After a long separation, photo albums and diaries were to be reunited. A true “Marriage of Materials”.

The albums and Diary from Dixie have been published as the 2-volume Mary Chestnut’s Illustrated Diaries, by Martha M. Daniels and Barbara E. McCarthy.

Listen to the podcast for a wonderful “forensic” discussion of mid-19th century photography. Think about the phrase “We’ve never seen a picture of ….” for that was how I felt until seeing some of the drawings in Scenes from Life at Suttons. Ah, how I cried when I first flipped through that book, seeing Mamma for the first time, seeing Mary and Charles, finding dear Augusta Wilder’s picture. “The excitement…” indeed!

“Women had such a quiet role”

– Marty Daniels, quoting Mary Boykin Chesnut

 

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5 Comments

  1. everyfirstlady said,

    Her diary is like reading a history of the Civil War, but one personally experienced.

    • Janeite Kelly said,

      Hi, EveryFirstLady — I must admit to a partiality in ‘history’ of this sort! I’ve been reading Vickery’s Behind Closed Doors, but watched the DVD (it arrived first) and the human aspect as culled from those diaries and letters, especially those handful of people presented (via actors) on the DVD has really sucked me in. Have you seen the “illustrated” Mary Chesnut??

      k

  2. Janeite Kelly said,

    Would make a wonderful holiday gift! It’s really fascinating to put faces and places to words.

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