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Mary Ayer (Rousmaniere) diary


Held at: Bryn Mawr College [Contact Us]Bryn Mawr College Library, 101 N. Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr 19010

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Bryn Mawr College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

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Mary Ayer was born on April 13, 1878. She was prepared by Miss Windsor's School, Boston, and by the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr. She entered Bryn Mawr College in September 1897. She spent her junior year at Radcliffe College, but graduated from Bryn Mawr in 1901 with degrees in political science and history. While at college, Ayer was involved in varsity basketball, Mandolin and Banjo Club, and class plays. After graduating from Bryn Mawr, Ayer pursued graduate studies at Radcliffe College (1901-1902) and Simmons College (1905-1906). In 1910, she married John Rousmaniere, a graduate of Harvard Law School. Together, the couple had four children. Ayer passed away on November 24, 1954 in the Westbury Hotel in New York City.

The Mary Ayer (Rousmaniere) diary houses the one volume diary of Mary Ayer, a member of the Bryn Mawr class of 1901. The diary spans Ayer's freshman through junior years at college, from 1897-1900. However, only the first two of these were spent at Bryn Mawr; Ayer spent her junior year at Radcliffe College, before returning to Bryn Mawr for her senior year. Ayer's diary offers insight into student athletics and academics, social life, and variations between Bryn Mawr and Radcliffe.

The diary comprises one volume. The diary begins with a summary of her entire freshman year, recounted sometime after its completion. She often summarizes the events of several days or weeks during her sophomore and junior years. The entries are irregular, but detailed.

Ayer became a member of the basketball team in her freshman year, making varsity during her second semester. She had a strong relationship with her teammates and often discusses the class tournaments in her diary (athletic competitions between the different classes at Bryn Mawr). Ayer also participated in a "Field Day" in 1899, and was the winner of a number of games. Much of the diary is devoted to Ayer's descriptions of social events. These range from large campus events like the class plays, to the small, intimate gatherings of friends, which Ayer often referred to as "teas." She writes about the various activities that each class year does for one another from the sophomore class performing "As You Like It" to her first year to attending junior prom in 1900. Ayer mentions a few Bryn Mawr notables, among them Marion Edwards Park, of whom she seems rather afraid. Park would become the third president of Bryn Mawr. Additionally, the diary illuminates some Bryn Mawr-specific traditions, including some that no longer exist. Ayer describes her freshman year Lantern Night (which is still celebrated), as well as the Freshman Play, and the Christian Union party (which are no longer a part of campus life). Her sophomore year, she discusses the Sophomore Play, Lantern Night, and Junior Prom. Additionally, copies of the oral song have been inserted into the diary, providing insight into traditions surrounding oral examinations. The diary provides valuable insight into the discrepancies between different women's colleges. Ayer's year studying at Radcliffe allowed her to draw comparisons between the two colleges. She characterized Radcliffe as quieter than Bryn Mawr, saying there was not as much "college life," which she described as teas, dances, and plays. She also made a brief visit to Vassar, finding that it had "many rules but not enforced which seems… a bad plan."

Ayer's diary is a detailed record of the life of a highly involved and social college woman during the turn of the century. Her descriptions of basketball and other athletic events would be of use to those interested in the involvement of women in sports. It also provides valuable insight into the variations between different women's colleges, and would be especially useful for those interested in the student experiences at Radcliffe and Bryn Mawr.

A digitized version and transcript of the diary can be found on Triptych

Bryn Mawr College
Finding Aid Date
October 8, 2018
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17)

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