Friday, April 17, 2015

From the Archives: The Diary of Gertrude "Scuddy" Scudder, Class of 1915

 "Today is one of the most memorable in my life. Mother and I, together with the Sharkeys, set out for college. Bess S. for Smith and I for Holyoke!"  Sunday, September 17, 1911

  A recent acquisition to the Archives and Special Collections provides fascinating insight into the daily life of Grace Scudder, a graduate of the class of 1915.The diary came to us through surprising means-- it was discovered in an antique cabinet and was donated to the Archives by someone who had no relation to Scudder! Her diary contains entries from the years 1911-1916, with entries beginning on Scudder's first day at Mount Holyoke College. The highlights of her first week include:

Monday: "Mother and I go wild over the lovely campus and  the glorious mountains."
Tuesday: "I put mother on the 11:22 train at Holyoke for a while. I certainly felt mighty miserable for a while. Dear Mother! However, this afternoon and evening I've met heaps of the loveliest girls and have gone around to the cosiest rooms!"
Thursday: "I had my first experience of Holyoke's beautiful chapel services and my first glimpse of Pres. Woolley. Had a 'scrumptious' time at a freshie tea in Grace Hallock's room."
Friday: "I had my first taste of recitations today. The German class struck terror to my heart."
Saturday: "At 5 o'clock I went to the Y.W.C.A. recep. with Alice Jones, and shook hands with Pres. Woolley." (all emphasis original)

The format of a line-a-day diary is perfect for busy college student: each page contains brief entries from each day over a five year period. The day of the month is inscribed at the top of the page, and the writer fills in the year next to reserved lines for that entry.

The front cover of Scudder's diary. Imprinted in the soft red
leather are the words "A Line A Day."

Gertrude Scudder, known as "Scuddy" to her friends, participated in an active civic life at Mount Holyoke and  afterwards. After graduating from MHC, she taught English and Latin in a junior high school, although she did not want to teach as her vocation and sought to work in journalism or have an exectutive position in business. She gained experience on the staff of the Trenton Times and Springfield Union, and also worked as a a social investigator for the Trenton Welfare Association.
These entries from May 6 highlight graduation activities. The top entry from 1912 reads,
"The seniors couldn't spin tops today on account of the rain."

She had a long history with the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) as a member during her time at Mount Holyoke and as an active leader of her local chapter in Trenton, New Jersey. She served for six years as the president of the Trenton chapter and wrote a 50 year history of the organization. She continued her civic mission by working with the Garden Club, Trent House Association, Daughters of the American Revolution, and was also active in MHC alumnae activities.
This paper lapel clip in the design of a golden sphinx was found tucked in the pages of the diary,

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