Thomas family diaries
Held at: Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections [Contact Us]370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
The Thomas diaries begin in 1869, written by an unknown Thomas family relation in Philadelphia, PA. In August 1869, the family moves to "Fairland", a farm outside of Darlington, Maryland. The Fairland property where most diary entries are written from was passed down along Charles Y. Thomas' family line, originally the property of his grandmother's parents, Richard and Eliza (Rutland) Snowden. The entries can begin to be identified as Charles Y. Thomas in 1881, and all following diaries are identified by Chas. Y Thomas. Charles Y Thomas was born in ~1851 in Maryland, and married Rebecca Edge Thomas in 1877 at Deer Creek Monthly Meeting. They had four children- Richard H. Thomas, Elisabeth S. Thomas, Joseph E. Thomas, and C. Edgar Thomas. Later in their lives, Charles and Rebecca Thomas moved more permanently to Baltimore, first living at 1405 Royal Avenue, and later at 1333 Bolton Street. Charles Y. Thomas died in 1925 in Baltimore, Maryland, and Rebecca E. Thomas died in 1926 in Baltimore, Maryland.
The Thomas family diaries span over 60 years, initially written by an unknown Thomas relative, before later being taken over by Charles Y Thomas. The almost daily entries record the life of a Maryland Friends family highly involved in their faith community. While the Thomas' were primarily Friends, they also frequently attended Methodist, Baptist, Episcopal, and Presbyterian events for special sermons and guest speakers. For much of the duration of the diaries, Charles Y Thomas and his family lived in 'Fairland', a farm near Darlington, MD. As such, many of the earlier entries include the practical realities of running and maintaining a farm. In the later years as the family lives part of the year in Baltimore and part of the year at Fairland, social events and broader news become more prevalent. Because the collection spans 6 decades, the diaries also act as markers for modernization on the farm (mechanization) and in daily life (plumbing, lighting, telegraph, telephone).
The diaries are organized by date.
Purchase from George Krzyminski, July 2019.
Processed by Ella Culton, September 2022.
- Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- Ella Culton
- Finding Aid Date
- September, 2022
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Standard Federal Copyright Law Applies (U.S. Title 17)
Top edges of pages read "Galloway Cheston and James Carey Thomas (Guardians) in ass. With E.D. Brown Acting Executor of John Clapp (deceased)". Entries relate to disbursements, commercial and other payments, and accounts. Many of the disbursements went to members of the Thomas family.
Diary of 1869 gives descriptions of daily life as well as notable events including Friends discussion of Seneca Indians. The diary also describes subscriptions, including those to Haverford College. Author meticulously took notes of Friends meeting speakers and topics (as well as committee news). In August 1869, family moves from Philadelphia to 'Fairland' properties near Darlington, Maryland. At the back of the diary, there is a drawing of an outdoor gazebo, and a separate drawing of a large tree.
Diaries include Chas. Y Thomas Fairland Memorandum of Farm Work, 1881 Farm Work Journal, 1882 Rough Endpaper Journal, 1883-84 Farm Work Journal, and 1885 ledger notebook. While primarily focused on farming and business, the journals and ledger include some social and family news.
Diaries include day-to-day tasks of Chas. Y Thomas and family related to the farm, generally in greater detail than the farm work journals. The Thomases attend meeting regularly, sometimes with their children, othertimes without. Author regularly describes business deals including what is owed to him, what he has purchased, and what he has sold, to whom.
3 small diaries per year. In 1890, Thomas writes about attending both Friends Meeting and the sermon of an Episcopal bishop. Other details include financial matters, farm work, social news (illnesses, deaths, funerals), and furniture making. Writing is fairly similar in 1891, with changes in the seasons and social news. Financial records are recorded in extensive detail related to the farm.
Daily records of farm work are recorded. Friends meetings news and occurences regularly recorded- in May 1892, Thomas writes about an interesting Temperance meeting, and also a beautiful prayer from the Episcopal minister in Darlington. Similar entries are made in 1893 and 1894. The 1893 diary is not bound, with folded sheets only. In the back of the 1st Month-2nd Month 1894 diary is a recipe for "Cough Mixture". 1894 is 8 small diaries.
3 small diaries per year. In 1895, Thomas writes about social engagements, Friends, and the farm. In the 9th month-10th month 1895 diary, Thomas includes trip expenses to Washington, DC and Baltimore with other miscellaneous purchases. Similar writings in 1896, with a mention of a large revival meeting in Berkley in January 1897. The final 1896 book is only partially completed, and the year as a whole has sporadic entries.
This is the first diary to be marked private. Notable events include attending stockholder meetings for the Darlington Cemetery Co. and meeting Claude Taylor and Stephen Hobhouse (two English Friends visiting meetings in the United States) in September. With the attending of English Friends, Thomas describes the large gathering at the meeting house and the interesting subject matter. Much of the diary concerns the day-to-day work of running a farm, interspersed with social and Friends notices.
3 diaries. Notable events from 1913 include September 19th: "went to an entertainment at Town Hall given by 2 old Confederate Soldiers and a colored Quartet," and November 14th, which describes a meeting in M and E. At this meeting, missionaries from Spain, China, and Africa are present, and Thomas is appointed to a committee to bring the Havre de Grace race track (horse racing) before legislation. Writing from the opposite ends of the diaries, Thomas includes prayers, notes from yearly meeting, and transcriptions of plays/performances.
Thomas repurposes a "Dove Diary" from 1912 for 1914, changing the dates as necessary. Notable events include receiving a letter from Rufus Jones in April and visiting his son Edgar in Cleveland. On the trip to Cleveland, Thomas records notes of the Friends meetings they attended, including examining the "books" of said meetings. In Cleveland, Thomas describes going to a moving picture show. Throughout the year Thomas types notes and covers books to deliver to Darlington.
Thomas is appointed to fill the vacancies at meeting left by the deaths of C. Lewis Ellicott and N. Newton Smith, and the removal of C. Edgar Thomas (his son). The most notable event from this year is Rebecca "Beckie" (Thomas' wife) becoming paralyzed in April. Thomas writes about doctor's visits, a personal nurse, friends and family concerns, etc. Eventually, Beckie is in a "wheeled chair," and begins to recuperate. The diary ends on September 16.
In October 1916, the Thomas family moves into a flat on 1405 Royal Ave in Baltimore. Thomas describes the trip on October 5th and settling in. At a Baltimore meeting in 1916, William Morris makes an appeal to help Armenian Christians. Many of the entries during this period in Baltimore relate to social visits and Friends activities, along with some business contacts and maintaining the farm. The family returns to Fairland in June 1917.
The diary begins back at 1405 Royal Ave. in Baltimore. Many of the entries describe attending Meeting and social visits. Some entries come from the farm at Fairland and daily work. At the front of the diary is a list of subscriptions, and at the back of the diary there are 2 pages of "List of Preserves put in during summer and fall of 1920". Handwriting becomes more erratic over time.
Thomas distinguishes between time at Fairland and time at 1333 Bolton St. in Baltimore at the top of entries. Similar contents to last several diaries. Artwork on blank pages near the August 1st and September 20th entries. At the back of the diary are a series of notes, letters, and a Kellog's corn flakes blotter (ephemera). There are two photographs- one of a cat, and the other of a woman at a woodland stream.
Many of the diary entries from this journal mention family or friends, and Thomas regularly writes about guests, topics, and speakers at meeting. On October 29th, the meeting received a sermon from one of the English members of the Cadbury family, and on November 19th, a missionary from Cuba spoke. On the final page, there is a list titled "Rent to Edgar" which includes a variety of food items.
There is no longer a front or back cover for this diary. On the entry page for May 22 1923, there is a clipping for an "Ever White Sani-Seat". Above the entry for August 8, 1924 is a draft of the monetary aggreeement from 1860. Many of the entries describe day to day life on the farm, visitors to Fairland, and any trips made to visit others. Again in 1923 and 1924 the Thomases spend time at 1333 Bolton St in Baltimore.
The final diary of Chas. Y Thomas. Entries begin in January 1925 [erroneously recorded as 1924] describing Thomas' illness. Laid in are several newspaper clippings, including clippings from "The Friend" and a comic strip. At the back of the diary are several pages of knitting lace and knitted bed-spreads, along with several quoted poems. The final diary entry is on March 9, 1925 and is only a few words long.
The Thomas children daguerreotype shows three small children, with a note that reads "Taken 1949 John C. Thomas Aged 7 Henry Thomas (age) 5 Allen C Thomas (age) 3". The other image is a tintype of an unidentified woman with a gilt brooch holding a book.