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A year in England


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library 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

Mary Olmstead Ives (1853-1904) was an upper-class Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, resident who lived during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Mary married Frederic Eugene Ives in 1879. Together they had two sons, Herbert Eugene Ives and Edwin Olmstead Ives.

In 1890 Mary and Herbert accompanied Frederic on a trip to England to publicize his Heliochromoscope (later called a Photo Chromoscope), an early color camera. Frederic Ives was an early practitioner of color photography. He held several patents, including U.S.P. 457,084 for a camera that is likely the Heliochromoscope. Herbert, who was ten at the time of Mary's first voyage to England, also became an innovator in the fields of optics and photography. Both Frederic and Herbert published numerous scientific articles and won several Franklin Institute awards.

"Franklin Laureate Database," The Franklin Institute. (accessed September 13, 2007).Dictionary of American Biography, s.v. "Frederic Eugene Ives," Biography Resource Center. (accessed September 13, 2007).United States Patent and Trademark Office, "United States Patent: 0475084," USPTO Patent Full-Text and Image Database. (accessed September 13, 2007).Additional information derived from the collection.

This travel journal documents two trips to London, England, taken by Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, resident Mary Olmstead Ives in the 1890s. Mary, who accompanied her husband Frederic Eugene Ives and son Herbert, described the journey by steamship to England, as well as events, social engagements, landmarks, tours, and local customs.

Mary Olmstead Ives's journal documents her observations and opinions during a trip to London, England, from February 22, 1893, to April 7, 1894. She continued writing in the book during a second trip to London beginning November 5, 1895. The last two pages contain an abbreviated series of events that occurred between July 10 and December 17, 1896. Mary Ives's ink entries fill a ruled journal of circa 240 pages with a marbleized paper cover.

During her first trip, Mary wrote in her journal every few days. She began by describing her experience as a first-class passenger aboard White Star Line's S.S. Majestic. Once in London, she described the museums, social engagements, plays, concerts, church services, and major landmarks that she attended as well as the successful reception of her husband's Heliochromoscope and some of the lectures and exhibitions at which he presented it. Mary's journal also contains her observations and opinions of English customs and culture including prices, fashion, food, and the Londoners' perceptions of Americans. The account of the first trip ended with their passage home on the White Star Line's S.S. Britannic. Mary returned to London on a second trip, also aboard the S.S. Britannic. She wrote similar entries on this trip; however, the entries are less frequent, occasionally with several months intervening.

Accompanying the journal are several items that had previously been removed from the volume. Of particular note are seven blue-tinted cyanotype photographs of buildings and a woman with two children in a park, possibly the Iveses. A May 1894 letter from Hannah Swan described occurrences in London after Mary's departure. Mary provided numerous newspaper clippings containing photographs and descriptions of the landmarks, particularly churches, she visited in England. Other clippings include observations of Queen Victoria and drawings of fashionable Victorian hairstyles for women and men. A program for the White Star Line ship lists Mr. F. E. Ives, Mrs. Ives, and Mr. Herbert Ives as saloon passengers for the November 6, 1895, voyage.

Purchase, 1956.

Processed and encoded by Kate Hand, September 2007. Updated by E. Evan Echols, April 2014

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2014 April 21
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

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Collection Inventory

A year in England, 1893-1896.
Box 0042
Physical Description

1 volume

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