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J. Edward Schmidt diaries


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. 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

J. Edward Schmidt was born in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, to Jacob Carl and Ella Greth Schmidt on 18 March 1891. Schmidt who called himself Edward, had one brother, Carl Frederic (1893-1988). Jacob Carl owned and operated J. C. Schmidt, Jeweler and Optician. Edward worked at the store, repairing jewelery and watches, making lenses, and engraving silver. In 1911 Edward traveled to Cleveland, Ohio and completed an apprenticeship with Mr. Newmeyer. In 1914 Edward married Mary Weimer of Lebanon, Pennsylvania. Mary was born 10 October 1892 to Asaph A. Weimer. Mary attended Miss Wright's School at Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. She then studied at Wellesley College from 1910 to 1912. Edward and Mary Schmidt had two children named Edward and Mary.

The diaries of J. Edward Schmidt comprise eight volumes spanning the years from 1906 to 1913. One volume dating from 19 March 1907 to 17 March 1908 is missing. Edward began daily entries on his fifteenth birthday 18 March 1906 and recorded his day-to-day life. Edward noted the weather, attending school, going to church, opening the jewelry store, music lessons, and books he was reading. The entries reflect the rhythms and activities of the changing seasons that included swimming, tennis, biking, baseball games, and picking fruit in the summers. The Schmidt family spent summers at Mount Gretna and Exmoor, Pennsylvania. In the autumn Edward went hunting and readied the store for the holiday shoppers. Winter months brought sledding and attending plays. In the spring Edward wrote of venturing out to the creeks and trout fishing. Edward enjoyed photography and wrote of taking photographs and buying printing supplies. He noted printing many images some of which are interspersed throughout the volumes. The pictures are chiefly of Mary Weimer. He discusses his love for Mary and began to write of her daily after their first meeting in May 1907. During their five-year courtship Edward records their meetings, reading books together, walks, and talking on the telephone. He discusses many details of their relationship and his own desires. Edward makes jewelery for Mary, they go on outings and meet at Exmoor in the summers. After Mary's graduation from Lebanon High School, Edward visited Mary in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania while she attended Miss Wright's School in 1910. When Mary left Lebanon to attend Wellesley Edward traveled to see her at the college and the pair also met in Boston. He wrote of his angst when she was away, he noted when he wrote letters to her, which was nearly everyday, and he recorded when he received letters. The couple became officially engaged on 12 July 1912. In addition to writing of Mary, Edward wrote of the ebb and flow of the business at the store J . C. Schmidt. He noted how his father, Jacob caught a long time employee stealing from the shop in 1910. This was the same year Edward's father bought the family's first automobile, a new Buick. In 1911 Jacob C. Schmidt was named to make the town clock at the courthouse in Lebanon. Several journeys are also recorded by Edward. He traveled with his brother Carl through New York City up to West Point in 1909. In April 1912 Edward spent three months in Cleveland, Ohio, working and learning in the jewelry shop of Mr. Newmeyer. Edward wrote of the many trips taken to Reading, Cynwyd, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, some by train and some by motorcycle. There was a trip to the Fairmount Park Races including Edward's snapshot of a car speeding past from October 1909. He notes events in the town such as yearly fairs and the centennial of Lebanon County in 1913. Some volumes record the number for the day of the year, the number for days spent at Mt. Gretna or Exmoor in the summer, and the number of days when Mary is away. Throughout the volumes are pressed flowers and some clippings.

Ian Brabner Rare Americana (Wilmington, Delaware), 2014

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Donna Brandolisio
Finding Aid Date
October 2014
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J. Edward Schmidt diaries, 1906-1913.
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