Main content

Emma Thompson 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

Emma Lukens Hall Thompson (1840-1926) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on July 17, 1840, the daughter of Dr. Israel Lukens and Susan Carr Lukens. In October 1860, the Lukens family relocated to Brooklyn, New York. Before her first marriage, Emma describes in great detail her experience of living through the Civil War as a Quaker woman. She recounts the latest news from the front, and her position as a staunch Unionist.

In July 1862, Emma married Isaac Hall (1818-1883), a successful Quaker businessman who was widowed with four children. Emma and Isaac had three children together- Alice Hall Phillips (1865-1955), Charles Lyman Hall (1868-1885), and Freddy Hall (1872-1872). While they were married, Emma and Isaac Hall traveled extensively throughout the US.

After Isaac's death in 1883, Emma continued to travel as a wealthy widow, visiting Europe with her two living children Charles ("Charlie") and Alice in 1884. Emma returned to both Europe and the American West after marrying her second husband, Samuel Swayne Thompson (1832–1919) in 1891. Samuel was a prominent Philadelphia businessman, and a trustee in the Pennsylvania State Asylum.

Throughout her life Emma Thompson was dedicated to many charitable causes which she records meticulously, and also dedicated significant time to the suffrage movement. As a prominent and wealthy socialite, as well as a devout Quaker woman, Emma Lukens Hall Thompson's diaries paint a vivid picture of life in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

This collection is comprised of 29 volumes of the handwritten diaries of Emma Lukens Hall Thompson and her daughter Alice Hall Phillips. Diary entries describe social calls, travel, Quaker meetings, births, marriages, and deaths in Brooklyn, New York and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

This collection has two series, one for Emma and one for her daughter Alice. Within those series, material is arranged chronologically.

Purchase from McBride Rare Books, June 2022.

Processed by Ella Culton, completed 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)

Collection Inventory

Travel Diary, 1863.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

This brief travel journal describes Isaac and Emma's trip to Saratoga, and other parts of New York State. On August 28th, they want to climb Mount Washington, but sign up too late.

Emma Hall Diary, 1867-1868.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Emma describes her daily routines and her young children, Alice and Charles. In March 1868, Charles is born. In August of that year, they travel by boat to Salem. In September, Emma recounts two of her servants leaving, having to find replacements, and subsequent challenges. During this period, they attend Meeting regularly, including while they are in Salem.

Emma Hall Diary, 1868-1869.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Emma talks extensively about her household duties, and details the costs of all her purchases. In September 1868, Emma fires the cook, who refuses to leave until she gets a full month's pay. Louisa, Isaac's daughter from a previous marriage, gets married. It is also during this period that Isaac and Emma begin attending a new Meeting.

California Trip Travel Journal, 1874.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

From April to June 1874 the Halls travelled to California by train, stopping regularly, but most notably in Chicago, Salt Lake City, and California (Oakland, San Francisco, etc.) Emma describes her surroundings, the trains, and the friends they have met. When travelling through the West Emma writes briefly about indigenous people and Chinese Americans.

Emma L. Hall's Journal, 1877-1878.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Much of the 1877 diary refers to trips taken that summer to the Adirondacks, Saratoga, etc. Emma keeps a record of social engagements, both for herself and her family, and regularly clips the marriages, births, and deaths which are notable for her from the newspaper. The family regularly attends meeting and other sermons.

Emma L. Hall's Journal, 1878-1879.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Throughout the diary Emma writes about social outings with her children, lectures, and other notable events. She also writes about the various vacations the family takes to Saratoga and Fire Island. Clippings include funerals and marriages, as well as any notices about Emma or the Halls generally.

Emma L. Hall Diary, 1887-1888.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

This diary discusses the comings and goings of Emma and her daughter Alice in the later half of 1887 through 1888. They regularly attend meeting, lectures, parties, weddings, etc. Emma adds clippings for notable events, deaths, and marriages.

Emma L. Thompson's Journal, 1896-1897.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Between April and May 1896, Emma and Samuel travel to South Dakota and Denver with ex-Governor of PA Robert Pattison by train. Emma recounts the train travel as well as visits to mining towns, forts, and the Black Hills. For the rest of 1896 and part of 1897, Emma recounts daily life in Philadelphia as well as their second home in Hatsboro, PA.

Mrs. Samuel Swayne Thompson Journal of European Trip, 1899.
Box 1
Scope and Contents

Emma and Samuel visit Europe, travelling throughout Italy, Austria-Hungary, Vienna, Paris, London, Norway (and the Arctic Circle), and finally Stockholm and Copenhagen. Emma is detailed in her entries, writing about religious relics, ancient sites, and the travel itself.

Emma L. Thompson's Journal, 1905-1908.
Box 2
Scope and Contents

In this diary Emma writes extensively about meeting- including Temperance Meeting, Orthodox Yearly Meeting, and also attending Hicksite Meeting. The Thompson's travel between their winter home in Philadelphia and summer home in the Poconos each year. Emma regularly includes local and national stories from the newspaper.

Emma Lukens Diary, 1855-1860.
Volume 1
Scope and Contents

Emma is 15 years old at the start of this diary, where she details social outings, visitors to the house, and learning domestic tasks (preserving jams, sewing circulars, etc.). On August 11, 1856, she recounts the kidnapping/forced marriage of Ann (her relation). Emma describes attending Quaker Meeting frequently, but usually in not much detail. In October 1860 (the end of this diary), the family moves from Philadelphia to Brooklyn, New York.

Emma Lukens (via Hall) Journal, 1860-1863.
Volume 2
Scope and Contents

Emma writes about the election of Abraham Lincoln in November, and first mentions the Civil War in April. She writes about young Quakers enlisting, and considers offering up her own services as a nurse. Periodically throughout her writings she mentions more men enlisting, military companies coming into town, and other news of the war (including clippings). During this period that she is courted by, and later marries (July 31, 1862), Isaac Hall.

Emma Hall Diary, 1869-1870.
Volume 3
Scope and Contents

In 1869, Emma is appointed as Vice President of the Meeting of Women- Equal Rights with Men. The Halls regularly attend Meeting- Emma will record a line or two about the subject. In February 1870, the Halls travel to the South (the Carolinas and Virginia). Isaac and Emma host "private theatricals" at their home, and receive some newspaper attention (clipped and included). At the back of the diary there is a silhouette of Isaac.

Emma Hall Journal, 1870-1874.
Volume 4
Scope and Contents

In 1871, Charlie (son) becomes very sick and is left paralyzed with impaired hearing and sight. In 1872, she has a surprise pregnancy discovered when she went into labor- the baby died 3 months later. Emma regularly attends metting and lectures and travels locally often with the family. In April 1874, the Halls start their trip to California.

Emma L. Hall Journal, 1875-1876.
Volume 5
Scope and Contents

In this diary Emma writes about various events and social calls she makes, often including newspaper clippings. Frequently, Emma attends Meeting, as well as lectures and concerts. In 1876, the Halls visit the Centennial Fair in Philadelphia.

Mrs. Isaac Hall Journal, 1879-1880.
Volume 6
Scope and Contents

Throughout this diary, Emma inserts many clippings which mention the family, marriages, deaths, and interesting world/news events. She details daily life, sending her children to school, and regular vacations taken by the family. At the front are family birthdays, and at the back are addresses of friends.

Mrs. Isaac Hall Journal, 1881-1883.
Volume 7
Scope and Contents

Regularly through this journal and others, the Halls attend lectures, concerts, and sermons at the Academy of Music, including in February 1882, listening to a lecture by Oscar Wilde. From February to March 1882, the Halls travel to the South (South Carolina and Florida). Both Isaac and Emma play prominent roles on committees for Quaker Meeting.

Diary of Emma L. Hall, 1884-1886.
Volume 8
Scope and Contents

In 1884, Emma, Charlie, and Alice travel to Europe visiting England, France, Germany, Switzerland, Scotland, and Serbia from July until November. Emma attends Temperance meeting, and is involved with several committees. In November 1885, Emma's son Charlie dies.

Emma L. Hall Diary, 1886-1887.
Volume 9
Scope and Contents

In this diary, Emma begins to include event-based entries, separating them with headings and sometimes illustrations. For example, in October 1886, there is a multi-paged entry dedicated to the unveiling of the State of Liberty (described as "Bartholdi Statue"). It is also during this period that Emma begins attending women's rights meetings.

Emma L. Thompson Journal, 1892-1894.
Volume 10
Scope and Contents

This diary recounts the early years of Emma's marriage to Samuel Thompson in Philadelphia. She recounts daily life, new ammenities ("electric light"), and interesting events. In 1893, Emma becomes seriously ill and undergoes surgery. In June, her daughter Alice gets married. In October 1893, Emma and Samuel travel to and attend the Columbian Exposition in Chicago (fair pass glued into diary).

Emma L.Thompson's Journal, 1894-1896.
Volume 11
Scope and Contents

This diary includes event clippings Emma attended, as well as marriages and death notices. In May 1895, Emma includes a newspaper clipping of the bicentennial New York Yearly Meeting celebration (notable reunitning of Hickite and Orthodox). Emma devotes a page to the death of Frederick Douglass, and several entries to her trip to Florida.

Emma L. Thompson's Journal, 1897-1899.
Volume 12
Scope and Contents

Emma visits the State Hospital for the Insane at Norristown and learns about the condition of different patients. The Thompsons travel to Maine for the summer, but spend the majority of their time in their summer home in Hatsboro or country home "Bonair" in Virginia. Emma regularly attends lectures and meeting, and records her social outings.

Emma L. Thompson Journal, 1899-1902.
Volume 13
Scope and Contents

During this period Emma and Samuel frequently attend meeting, including many committees. Emma recounts travelling again to South Dakota and the West Coast, as well as visiting the World's Fair in Buffalo, NY. She includes clippings of the McKinley assassination and Quaker Peace Conference in 1901.

Emma L.Thompson Journal, 1908-1912.
Volume 14
Scope and Contents

In 1908, Emma is made a lifetime member of the Woman Suffrage Society. While regularly attending meeting, Emma visits with an indigenous representative fighting to protect their lands. In 1910, the Thompson's visit Eastern State Penitentiary. Emma and Samuel are closely involved with the Norristown State Hospital for the Insane.

Emma L. Thompson Journal, 1912-1914.
Volume 15
Scope and Contents

During this period, Emma writes extensively about social outings, meeting, and lectures. In 1912 the Thompsons attend a dinner for President Taft, and later that year meet Sir Ernest Shackleton.

Emma L. Thompson Journal, 1914-1918.
Volume 16
Scope and Contents

Throughout this period Emma includes clippings of World War I news- she opposes increased US armament. She is also involved in the Committee on Prison Society. She writes extensively about her granddaughter, Rita Phillips, and Rita's trip and subsequent return from Alaska.

Alice L Hall Diary Volume I, 1882.
Box 2
Scope and Contents

Diary of the month of July which includes the day-to-day social calls and outings of Alice. She describes the experience of being courted by several men (not all of whom she likes).

Alice L Hall Diary Volume II, 1882.
Box 2
Scope and Contents

In this diary Alice recounts the family's vacations to Saratoga Springs and the Catskills, as well as day-to-day life in Brooklyn. Later on in the year, she begins attending a boarding school in New York City.

Alice Phillip Diary, 1927.
Box 2
Scope and Contents

Alice describes attending meeting and various committees, as well as the comings and goings of her children Rita and Frederick. She visits Rita in Florida for part of the year.

Print, Suggest