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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eBaying letters

November 14, 2010 at 10:42 am (news) (, , , , , , )

Craig in Australia has long encouraged me to search for family correspondence on eBay; he has found some amazing family items! But his last name is a bit unusual. What name do I search for?? SMITH! Yow…

(Even Gosling has its problems — thanks to people like actor Ryan Gosling; but the main hinderance is that letters for sale are less for their content — writer and recipient included — than for their postmarks. I simply don’t have the patience! So, readers, should you find anything of use to me, please let me know! I appreciate Craig’s pointing out some Alexander Davison letters; the slightly unusual spelling — Davison rather than Davidson — rather saves the day with that family.)

But I thought to mention here this exceptional find, which ran in my local paper (among others, for the link is to the Times Herald in Pennsylvania): the letters of a Civil War Soldier, Alfred Covell Woods. The amazing story of what has been happening now is actually a fairly local story: Crown Point, NY is just across Lake Champlain from where I live.

What interests me, as readers may guess, is the story of his service told in letters home — as well, how these letters were reamassed (at least online) from the many purchasers among whom the items were distributed.

I’ll let the newspaper article tell the story; the link to the letter transcriptions can be found here, and don’t forget to notice the eBay pricing… This news article, from Syracuse, has the same info, but a couple great pictures, including the cover of the diary.

Woods’ diary is also online; see this link (from 2007!) about the transcriptions; the diary from 1861 can be found here – and check out the PICTURES! This, too, was once up for eBay bid.

Plattsburgh’s Press Republican ran the ‘after-story’: November 7‘s marker ceremony.

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