The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Barbara Hillard Smith’s Diary, November 1918

Today we return to the 1918 diary of Newton teenager Barbara Hillard Smith. You may read our introduction to the diary, and Barbara’s previous entries, here:

January | February | March | April | May 

June | July | August | September | October

As regular readers of the Beehive know, we are following Barbara throughout 1918 with monthly blog posts that present Barbara’s daily life -- going to school, seeing friends, playing basketball, and caring for family members -- in the words she wrote a century ago.

 November was both a regular and not-so-regular month for Barbara as she balanced school and babycare and social outings with news of the Great War -- “Rumor peace was declared,” reads her entry on November 7th, sandwiched between “School” and “Senior Tea.” Then on the eleventh day of the eleventh month at the eleventh hour ... “Peace declared. Parade. Babies. Hair up<.”

>Here is Barbara’s November, day by day.

* * *

School. Babies. Movies at Waltham

SAT. 2
Hung around all day.

SUN. 3
Sunday School. Mrs. R- sick. Cousin Alice here

MON. 4
School. Babies.


WED. 6
School. Babies

School. Rumor peace was declared. Senior Tea.

FRI. 8
School. Babies

SAT. 9
In town. Sailors dance with Ben

SUN. 10
Sunday School. Pete to Dinner

MON. 11
Peace declared. Parade. Babies. Hair up.

TUES. 12
No school. In town. Parade

WED. 13
School. Over to Pete’s

THUR. 14
School. Over to Peg’s

FRI. 15
School. Took care of Baby.

SAT. 16
Knitted madly. Spud took me to Sybil’s party.

SUN. 17
Church Sunday School. K. to dinner. Studied

MON. 18
School. Took care of baby

TUES. 19
School. Swimming

WED. 20
School. Took care of baby

THUR. 21
School. Swimming. Aunt Mabel came to see Grandmas

FRI. 22
School. Lecture with Mother. Wartime France. Babies.

SAT. 23
Hung around. Mrs. Reed’s. Cousin M. to supper. Heard Dr. A- was detained.

SUN. 24
Put in teacher’s training class. Bob Hayes home. Spud to supper.

MON. 25
School. Took care of sonny.

TUES. 26
School. Sick? Hung around in afternoon. Got report cards. Safe I guess.

WED. 27
School. Got out at 12. Went to Babies. Sick in evening

THUR. 28
Went to Muriel’s. Thanksgiving dinner. Sailor’s dance.

FRI. 29
In town. Up to babies. Dinner and Dance at Spud’s. Bed at 1:20

SAT. 30
Slept until 11:20. Saw “Seventeen” [adapted from the novel Seventeen by Booth Tarkington]

If you are interested in viewing the diary in person in our library or have other questions about the collection, please visit the library or contact a member of the library staff for further assistance.

*Please note that the diary transcription is a rough-and-ready version, not an authoritative transcript. Researchers wishing to use the diary in the course of their own work should verify the version found here with the manuscript original. The catalog record for the Barbara Hillard Smith collection may be found here.

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Wednesday, 14 November, 2018, 1:00 AM

This Week @MHS

We have two seminars and a gallery talk scheduled at the MHS this week. 

Tuesday, 13 November, 5:15 PM: Ditched: Digging Up Black History in the South Carolina Lowcountry with Caroline Grego, University of Colorado Boulder, with comment by Chad Montrie, University of Massachusetts--Lowell. For nearly three centuries, Black sea islanders enslaved and free have dug thousands of miles of ditches that channeled the South Carolina Lowcountry, for purposes from rice to phosphate to mosquito control. This piece explores the evolving projects of environmental use and management in the Lowcountry, through the conduit of ditches, and traces the history of how the environment, politics, and labor intersected in the miry ditches of the region from the eighteenth to the twentieth centuries. This is part of the Boston Seminar on Environmental History series. Seminars are free and open to the public. 

- Thursday, 15 November, 5:15 PM: An “Organic Union”: Ecclesiastical Imperialism and Caribbean Missions with Christina Davidson, Harvard University, and comment by Greg Childs, Brandeis University. In 1880, hundreds of black clergy and lay delegates of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) gathered to discuss reunion with the British Methodist Episcopal Church of Canada. Factions within both denominations disputed the nature and procedure of the proposed organic union. This paper argues that the organic union debate was in fact crucial to AME expansion and the development of foreign missions in Haiti and the broader Caribbean. This is part of the Boston Seminar on African American History series. Seminars are free and open to the public. 

- Saturday, 17 November, 2:00 PM: Gallery Talk: Fashioning the New England Family with Kimberly Alexander, University of New Hampshire. Material culture specialist and guest curator, Dr. Kimberly Alexander will help viewers explore and contextualize rarely seen costumes, textiles and fashion-related accessories mined from the MHS collection. Representing three- centuries of evolving New England style, most of the pieces have never before been on view to the public.

Fashioning the New England Family is open Monday through Friday, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The exhibition explores the ways in which the multiple meanings of fashion and fashionable goods are reflected in patterns of consumption and refashioning, recycling, and retaining favorite family pieces. Many of the items that will be featured have been out of sight, having never been exhibited for the public or seen in living memory. The exhibition is organized as part of Mass Fashion, a consortium of cultural institutions set up to explore and celebrate the many facets of the culture of fashion in Massachusetts. 

Please note that the building is closed on Monday, 12 November. The library will close at 3:00 PM on Friday, 16 November. Take a look at our calendar page for information about upcoming programs.

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Monday, 12 November, 2018, 1:00 AM

Work, Community, & the Cranberry Industry in Massachusetts

With Thanksgiving around right around the corner, I decided to explore the story of a fruit that appears in a sauce on many Thanksgiving plates: cranberries. More specifically, I looked through MHS resources to see what I could learn about the history of cranberries and cranberry growing in the state. While Massachusetts is home to a notable cranberry industry, I didn’t know too much about it beyond quick glimpses of bogs I see from the car when I go to Cape Cod. I ended up learning a bit about the practice of growing cranberries as well as the connection of the industry to immigration and the development of Cape Verdean communities in Massachusetts.

An 1891 broadside in the collection, Cranberry crop for 1891, sheds some light on the geographic scope of the cranberry industry in late 19th century Massachusetts, the means of transportation for harvested cranberries, and the general productivity of the crop over the course of the years 1889, 1890, and 1891. The broadside has statistics, put together by a Charles H. Nye, Esq., for barrels and boxes of cranberries shipped from various stations along the Cape Cod Division of the Old Colony Railroad, along with a briefer set of statistics for the Old Colony Railroad’s Central Division. Some stations, such as Tremont, Wareham, West Barnstable, Harwich, seem to have been quite busy during this time. 1891 in particular was a bustling year for cranberry shipments along the Cape Cod Division, as over 130,000 barrels were shipped that year, which “exceeded by over 45,000 bbls., the largest yield of any previous year, that of 1889.”

The Ropes family photographs at the MHS include four photographs of workers harvesting cranberries on Cape Cod, circa 1900-1910. The photographer is unknown, and the exact location does not seem to be clear, but the photos do provide snapshots of cranberry harvesting in Massachusetts at that time.

I read two essays in They Knew they were Pilgrims: Essays in Plymouth History, edited by L.D. Geller (New York: Poseidon Books, 1971), that provide insights into the cranberry industry of the early 20th century and the people who worked in it, from the perspectives of two authors with family connections to cranberry work. In “Life on a Cranberry Bog at the Turn of the Century,” Rose T. Briggs chronicles some of the changes that occurred in the industry in the early decades of the 20th century, drawn from her experience growing up in a cranberry-producing family. She discusses the technological changes that changed the work, the increase of immigrants from Cape Verde in the workforce, and, later, the increase in women working in cranberry bogs. In “Plymouth and Some Portuguese,” Rev. Peter J. Gomes discusses, from his perspective as the descendant of Cape Verdean immigrants, the development of Cape Verdean immigration to Massachusetts, the role Cape Verdean workers played in the cranberry industry after it became a major employer of immigrants from Cape Verde in the early 20th century, and some of the general experiences of Cape Verdean immigrants in southeastern Massachusetts. These essays offer glimpses into the nature of the work on cranberry bogs as well as the groups of people and communities who participated in this work.

Peter J. Gomes, “Plymouth and Some Portuguese” 

“But what was it that made people leave the old country for the New World? One obvious reason was the lust for adventure and the hope for a better life. The islands were overpopulated and one’s future pretty well determined at birth. The New World offered better economic opportunity. Another reason, not so talked about, was escape from military service.” (181).

“Immigration was also prompted by relatives already established in America” (181).

“From New Bedford they spread over the Cape and southeast coastal region, shipping out and tending to agriculture and odd jobs between voyages. As the whaling industry declined during the last two decades of the century, the Portuguese, like his quondam employer, the shipmaster, had to seek out other means of livelihood. “He found it in the cranberry industry.” (182).

“The life of the Portuguese on the bogs was harsh. It was bitter and grueling work for starvation wages. Cheap labor was needed and they were it. Uninitiated into the ways of collective bargaining . . . they were easy marks for the speculators and exploiters who were rife.” (183)

Rose T. Briggs, “Life on a Cranberry Bog at the Turn of the Century”

“Those were the days of hand-picking. We used a six-quart tin that had a lovely reverberation when the first berries were dropped into it, but took so long for a child to fill. Then you proudly lugged your tin up to the tally keeper, called out your number, emptied it (another satisfying sound) and returned to begin another. The bog was laid off in rows with section-line, so each picker or family had its own row, and no one could hog the best picking. The man in charge of the gang had an eagle eye for dropped underberries, and for thin spots neglected, and the tally-keeper rejected measures that were not properly full, or had vines stuffed into the middle!” (190)

“In 1900 snap machines were beginning to come in. They took some skill to operate, and of course were much faster than hand-picking. The men that operated them were paid by the hour, not the measure. In 1903 it was twenty-five cents an hour. Scoops were also coming in, and with them the Cape Verde Portuguese, who soon were the characteristic labor force on the bogs.” (190).

“When immigration was put on a quota basis, all this commuting to the Islands came to an end, and settled Portuguese communities grew up in this country. They too came picking.

“During World War II energetic women, Portuguese and others, operated a scoopers which had always been considered strictly a man’s job. The type of picking machine now in use is often operated by women. The big gangs of scoopers have gone. What strikes one now in looking at a picking crew, is the small number of people involved. Sometimes the tenders outnumber the pickers.” (191).

“Where the grower’s team once carted his berries to the railroad, huge trucks now come from outside to transport the crop.” (191)

“Cranberry growing is still a colorful business, but the days of self-sufficiency are over” (191).

If these materials interest you, feel free to visit the MHS library, which is open six days a week!

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Friday, 9 November, 2018, 8:43 AM

"Ffriends and Neighbors" : Intelligence and allegiance in early Plymouth

Not long after I started working here in the library at the MHS I took an interest in 17th-century topics with the hope that I could better serve those researchers studying the time period by pointing them to specific collections relevant to their search. A specific collection that comes up time and again is the Winslow family papers II*, a small but very fascinating collection for its documentation of the late 17th century in and around Plymouth County, primarily from the vantage point of a family central to the history of that locale and including two of the early governors of the county, Edward and Josiah Winslow. For this post, I look at a single document from that collection which dates to 1675 at the outset of Metacom's, or King Philip's, War. This document came to my attention during a class visit in which it was used as a show & tell item by a colleague, and I have since used it myself. Until now, though, I was ignorant of its contents.

The letter displayed in various class visits, written by Plymouth governor Josiah Winslow to "Weetamoo and Ben her husband," is only half the story, it turns out. Looking more closely, I found that there is an earlier letter contained on the same paper. The first letter is from a man named John Brown, writing to Gov. Winslow from Swansey to inform him about the movements of the local natives and the unrest that is taking hold. The second part is a draft of a letter that Winslow wrote to Weetamoo (Weetamoe, Weetamo), the female sachem of the Pocasset Wampanoag, encouraging her to remain friends of the Plymouth settlers and not be lured into alliance with Philip, her brother-in-law.

N.B. : These are only rough transcriptions. I did my best to retain the original spelling and punctuation (or lack of). Brackets [ ] indicate a best-guess; blank spots filled with underscoring _____ indicate missing text.


Swansey June 11: 1675

Sir  some lines of mine I understand came to your hand Unexpected to you and not intended by me the hast & Rudenes whereof I did intend to excuse to the person to whom I did direct it. the matter where of I still beleve for they have bin and are in arms to this day as appears by the witness of Inglish of Credit    yea this day there is above 60 double armed ^men  and they stand upon ther gard on reson is say they is because they heare you intend to send for phillip but they  have sent there wifes to Narrogansent all or some and an Indian told me this day That he saw 20 men came to phillip from Coweset side and they flock to him from Narroganset Coweset pocasset showomet Assowomset from whence ther Came 3 men ye Last nigh well armed after there Coming to phillips town & ower within night they gave us an Alarm by 2 guns & 1 in ye morning before day and ye continued warninge of ye drum and the above said Indian told me that he heard that ye passages betwixt tanton & us were garded by Indians and yt ye younger sort were much set Againts ye Inglish and this day one Indian this day Leift both work and wages saying he wase sent for to fight with ye Inglish within 2 dayes  the truth is they are in a posture of war  there has bin sene above 150 [togeathere at once]  how many in private there be we [kow not   but for] further intelligence ye bearer is able to informe  Sir I reit onely this by my Commision I have not power to set [awash] ye Lawes are unserten  ye providence of god hath prevented me from Weighting uppoun you for inlargement here in . theres not appointed a councell of your war in our town I thought good th to aquaint you^  here with I am in hast And Reit  your and my …  youres to serve

                                                                John Brown


On the back side of the folio – or the “back cover” of Brown’s missive is a small note that provides some geographic clarifications:


Cowesett between ye Narragansett Country (properly so called) and Pawcatuck River

Pocasset – Tiverton

Shawomet – Barrington Warwick 

Assawomsett - Middleboro


Inside the folio we have the letter that Winslow addressed to the Pocasset leader based upon the intelligence he received from Brown a few days earlier.


To Weetamoo, and Ben her husband

Satchems of pocasset

Ffriends and Neighbors

I am informed yt phillip ye sachem of Mount hope contrary to his many promises and ingagements; and yt upon no ground provocation nor unfairness in the least from us, but meerly from his owne base groundles feare is Creating new trobles to himself & us; And hath [indeavored] to ingage you & your people with him, by intimations of notoriouse falshoods as if wee were secretly designeing mischeef to him, and you, such unmanly treacherouse practices as wee abhor to thinke of, and yt hee hath also _________________against you if you shall deny to help him; I am _____________[hath] prevayled very little [with] you, except it bee to some few of your giddy inconsiderate young men; if it bee fact, as I am willing to believe it may; you shall finde us allwayes redy to acknowledge & incourage your faith fullness, and protect you also so farr as in us lyeth from his pride & tirany; And if you Contynew faithfull, you shall assuredly reape ye fruite of it to your Comfort, when hee by his pride & treachery hath wrought his owne ruine. As a testimony of your contynued friendship I desire you will give us what intelligence you may have, or shall gather up, yt is of concernment, and you shall not finde mee ungratefull, who am and desire to contynew

your reall ffreind

Jos: Winslow


June 15 ∙ 75


Again, there is some additional information on the facing page. First, is a block of text that serves as delivery instructions for Brown’s letter:

These ffor the Honnered Josiah Winslow Esquie Govenor of his Magtis Colony of New plymouth  These with speed at Marshfeild or plimouth


Another bit, written to the right of and perpendicular to this, reads:

Mr. Brown to Gove Winslow & the Gove to Weetamo 15th June 1675


A last piece of text, apparently added by Winslow, identifies his writing as a draft:

Swansey. June 11 ∙ 75

From Lieut. Jno Browne.

& a copie of mine to Weetamoo


Stay tuned for future posts here on the Beehive where I hope to provide more information about the characters involved with this correspondence. In the meantime, you can search our online catalog, ABIGAIL, to see what else we have about the early colonies, and then consider Visiting the Library to do some research!

*The Winslow family papers II, along with many other documents from the MHS Collection, is available digitally from the database "Frontier Life: Borderlands, Settlement & Colonial Encounters" created by the UK-based company Adam Matthew Digital, accessible at the MHS and other participating libraries.

comments: 2 | permalink | Published: Wednesday, 7 November, 2018, 1:00 AM

This Week @MHS

Here is a look at what is going on this week at the MHS:

- Tuesday, 6 November, 5:15 PM: “A Rotten-Hearted Fellow”: The Rise of Alexander McDougall with Christopher Minty, the Adams Papers, MHS, and comment by Brendan McConville, Boston University. Historians have often grouped the DeLanceys of New York as self-interested opportunists who were destined to become loyalists. By focusing on the rise of Alexander McDougall, this paper offers a new interpretation, demonstrating how the DeLanceys and McDougall mobilized groups with competing visions of New York’s political economy. These prewar factions stayed in opposition until the Revolutionary War, thus shedding new light on the coming of the American Revolution. This is part of the Boston Area Seminar on Early American History series. Seminars are free and open to the public.

- Wednesday, 7 November, 12:00 PM: John Perkins Cushing & Boston's Early China Trade with Gwenn Miller, College of the Holy Cross. In July of 1803, John Perkins Cushing, an orphaned relation of some of the most prominent families in Boston, set sail for the Canton at the age of sixteen. The emerging literature on the Early American China trade often mentions Cushing as an aside, sometimes refers in passing to his importance among the foreign residents of Canton. This project explores how he came to be in that position of importance and casts Boston’s opium exchange at the center of the trade.

- Wednesday, 7 November, 6:00 PM: Founding Martyr: The Life & Death of Dr. Joseph Warren, the American Revolution’s Lost Hero with Christian Di Spigna.   Had he not been martyred at Bunker Hill in 1775, Dr. Joseph Warren, an architect of the colonial rebellion, might have led the country as Washington or Jefferson did. Warren was involved in almost every major insurrectionary act in the Boston, from the Stamp Act protests to the Boston Massacre to the Boston Tea Party, but his legacy has remained largely obscured. Di Spigna’s biography of Warren is the product of two decades of research and scores of newly unearthed documents that have given us this forgotten Founding Father anew. A pre-talk reception begins at 5:30 PM; the speaking program begins at 6:00 PM. There will be a special rum tasting courtesy of Privateer Rum at the reception.There is a $10 per person fee (no charge for MHS Fellows and Members or EBT cardholders). Please note that this program is SOLD OUT.

- Friday, 9 November, 12:00 PM: Persistent Futures of Americas Past: The Genres of Geography & Race in Early America with Timothy Fosbury, University of California--Los Angeles. This talk analyzes the speculative literary origins of America as a desired community and geography of economic, political, and religious belonging in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by considering how place making was a form of nascent race making in the early Americas. Moving between New England, Bermuda, and the Caribbean, this talk considers how settler imaginings of their desired futures in the Americas produced the preconditions for what we would now call race.

- Saturday, 10 November, 8:00 AM to 6:30 PM: Art & Memory:The Role of Medals, Medal Collectors of America and MHS Conference. This conference on medals and medal collecting will include a series of presentations on the role medals have played in America history, the evolution of medallic art, and the ways medals have reflected American culture up through the 20th century. In addition, a panel discussion will cover the stylistic developments from Renaissance medallic art to contemporary art medals (“The Art of the Medal”).  A second panel will explore the individual passions that drive numismatists to build their unique collections (“Why Collect Medals?”). There is a $75 per person conference fee, with optional dinner afterwards for an additional $95 per person. A cocktail reception at the MHS will conclude the conference in the late afternoon.

Fashioning the New England Family is open Monday through Friday, from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The exhibition explores the ways in which the multiple meanings of fashion and fashionable goods are reflected in patterns of consumption and refashioning, recycling, and retaining favorite family pieces. Many of the items that will be featured have been out of sight, having never been exhibited for the public or seen in living memory. The exhibition is organized as part of Mass Fashion, a consortium of cultural institutions set up to explore and celebrate the many facets of the culture of fashion in Massachusetts. 

Please note that the library is closed on Saturday, 10 November and the building is closed on Monday, 12 November. Take a look at our calendar page for information about upcoming programs.

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Monday, 5 November, 2018, 1:00 AM

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