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Mary Huntington Morgan Diary
Morgan's diary for 1896 is a single volume (22 cm.) bound in half-calf with marbled boards; it contains 160 leaves, with 299 manuscript pages in the diarist's hand. The front free endpaper is inscribed: "Mary Huntington Morgan, Washington, D.C. January 1, 1896." There are entries for each day of that year, averaging around 3/4 of a page or 220 words. The style of the first-person narrator is simple and direct, and the handwriting is relatively clear. The diary introduces us to family members as well as a variety of friends and acquaintances: Julia, the daughter of Vice-President Adlai Stevenson, the daughters of the renowned clergyman, DeWitt Talmadge, suitors such as Mr. Duvall, and members of foreign embassies such as Mr. Chung. The events that Morgan describes are the everyday occurrences that take place in Washington, or on visits to Bridgeport and New Haven, Connecticut. The interest of the diary often lies in the frequency with which Morgan refers to letter-writing or to the attendance of church services, to dinners and dances. She often makes note of her reading, from William Dean Howells' Indian Summer and Arthur Conan Doyle's Adventures of Sherlock Holmes to such now largely forgotten works as Marie Corelli's Barabbas and John Ames Mitchell's Amos Judd. She mentions plays and musicals like The Geisha and The Wizard of the Nile and provides a picture of the popular culture of the 1890s. Political commentary is only occasional; when William Jennings Bryan won the nomination to run for President on the Democratic ticket, Morgan remarks: "The convention in Chicago has been carried by the liberals I am sorry to say."
Like many diarists, Morgan often records her moods: "I have been terribly blue all day." She occasionally becomes introspective and philosophic; at the end of September 1896 she quotes from Nathaniel Hawthorne's Blithedale Romance: "No summer ever came back and no two summers ever were alike. Times change, and people change, and if our hearts do not change as readily, so much the worse for us." The reader can often relate to the described feelings and events: the way Morgan is unhappy at how she appears in photographs or the tedium of waiting three hours in a dentist's office. On the other hand, the diary also offers a glimpse into a more unique world: ". . .mother and I went to the White House to Mrs. Cleveland's tea. It was beautiful, a thoroughly charming affair, and of course Mrs. Cleveland was as lovely as she always is."
In the margin alongside her entry for 30 September Morgan makes reference to a journal for 1895; unfortunately, other diaries and journals have not been located.