1880 Manuscript Diary of Bertha Smith of Smithtown Long Island Attending Packer Collegiate Institute Brooklyn
(Americana - 19th Century - Womans Studies - Smithtown Long Island - Packer Collegiate Institute Brooklyn)

Smithtown Long Island New York: Not Published, 1880. F Manuscript one day per page diary for Bertha Smith of Smithtown, Long Island NY; front endpaper with her name and noting "...from Miss North Sunday Jan. 11th 1880 with a Merry Christmas..." (Miss North is mentioned within as family friend and occasional teacher of Bertha Smith) First four months with daily, full-page entries; about half of June - July with shorter daily accounts; and sporadically kept until the end of the year. At the time Bertha Smith is 16 years old, turning 17 July 2 and is enrolled as a student at Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, boarding at Mrs. Hughes with several other women students. The entries for the period at Packer, at the beginning months of the year are characterizied by deep homesickness, varying illnesses, social engagements and family outings, visits with siblings and parents in Brooklyn, church services including weddings, funerals; complaints about the difficulty of completing and succeeding at schoolwork, Regents and other examinations: "...Packer an awful school..."; resignation to the duties of being a student and consigning herself to the care of her Christian faith, every day. Bertha is one of the Smiths of the founding of Smithtown and mentions the family home at Nissequogue and her merchant uncle Ferdinand Smith who departed for Japan & Asia business in 1880. The family appears quite close knit, with much mention of nearly daily correspondence being exchanged between members, especially Bertha and 15-year old brother "Ethel" who is attending school in Garden City, her parents, aunts and uncles. Names of friends and relations include Blydenburgh, Clinch, Wetherell, Averill, Russell, Cornell, Stetson, Low, Nicholls, Blackwell, Waterbury, Butler, McCoons,many other Smith family members and others. Mention is made of the sermons of Dr. Schencke at church, sometimes giving titles; and one occasion a sermon given by an "Indian preacher"; some of the teacher names are also given from Packer and careful recording of 'calling' on various relations and friends in Brookyn and New York City - going to hotels, Greenwood cemetery, teas, dinners & lunches, walking & dining often. Before the beginning of the next (fall) semester the diarist notes that Mrs. Hughes has broken up her boarding house and Smith would not likely be returning to Packer to continue. There is much joy in summer activities in Smithtown and on the Sound, boating, riding, sailing, moonlight walks, going to 'the Branch' (Smithtown Branch), parties, weddings & other social engagements, at least one of which describes the clothing and appearance of the participants; some of the religiousity drops away and interacting with boys becomes of more prominence in entries; occasionally, a little jealousy at the apparent wealth of others arises, quickly quashed and resigned. Local events also mentioned: fatal fire on a boat on the Sound, controversy and change in the minstry at church, mention of being delighted at the election of Garfield and defeat of the Democrats. The final leaves of the diary are given over to listing expenses, evidently incurred on later journeys (or living?) in the city. Handwriting generally legible and clear, occasionally scratchy, usually done in strongly applied sharp pencil and very visible. Laid-in are a scrap pencil note and a visiting card of Mr. Robert Alexander Rutherfurd 139 East 15th St. Approx. 2 1/2" x 4" size; bound in thin reddish-mahogany leather, with belt-and-loop type closure, all edges gilt; some wear and scuffing to the binding, closer holed; contents clean and in very good condition; an interesting later 19th century yount woman's diary offering an intimate daily glimpse of educational and social life in Brooklyn and Long Island. Good (Item ID: 25001)


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