Main content

Sarah Marks Stockton travel journal


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

Sarah Stockton (née Marks) was born in 1829 in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Albert Israel Marks, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi and a Catholic mother. From 1839 to 1845, Albert Marks was the (unpopular) leader of the Shangarai Chasset, the first synagogue established by the Jewish community of New Orleans. In 1845, Sarah married John Potter Stockton, a politician and a member of a prestigious New Jersey family. The Stocktons lived in Princeton and later in Trenton, New Jersey.

In June 1858, John P. Stockton was appointed a minister to the Papal States by President James Buchanan. Sarah and her four children, Robert, John Jr., Richard, and Julia, accompanied her husband to Italy. In Rome, Sarah was a member of high society. The family returned to the United States after Abraham Lincoln was elected president. John Stockton later served as a senator for several years and as the attorney-general of New Jersey from 1877 until 1897. On September 29, 1887, Sarah Stockton died of "rheumatism of the heart." Her husband died January 22, 1900, of heart disease.

Dictionary of American Biography, s.v. "Stockton, John Potter.""Death of Mrs. Stockton," New York Times, September 30, 1887, (accessed October 4, 2007)."John Potter Stockton Dead," New York Times, January 23, 1900, (accessed October 4, 2007)."Sarah Marks Stockton." Find A Grave. (accessed May 21, 2014)."Shangarai Chasset." Wikipedia. (accessed May 21, 2014).

This journal of New Jersey resident Sarah Marks Stockton chronicles her travels in Italy and stay in Rome as a member of high society from 1858 to 1860. Stockton’s journal contains extremely detailed autograph entries describing her stay in Italy with her children while her husband John P. Stockton served as the American minister to the Papal States.

Stockton began writing in her journal on October 20, 1858, while in Milan. She then chronicled her family’s travels through Genoa, Sestri, Pisa, Florence, and Perugia over the next month. In this section, her entries focused on the modes of travel between cities, accommodations, as well as the operas, museums, galleries, and other landmarks she visited.

In November, the Stocktons arrived in Rome, where they remained through June 1859. There is only one entry between November 15 and January 15. Sarah wrote that she wanted to keep a daily record of her activities, but she occasionally did not find time to write in her journal for several days or weeks. While in Rome, Sarah Stockton described her life in high society. She interacted with many prestigious people including Queen Isabella II of Spain. Sarah described her daily mood and activities as well as occasional sightseeing, art exhibits, and her frequent attendance at the opera. She also attended several services given by the Pope including mass on Palm Sunday and Easter.

Near the end of her stay in Rome, Stockton mentioned events related to the Second Italian War of Independence. In late June, the Stocktons decided to leave Rome, likely due to the political turmoil. From July 4 to September 11, Sarah described her travels through Leghorn, Genoa, Turin, Soriano, and La Spezia. She often related her boredom and dislike of the smaller towns in comparison to Rome.

The last entry in the book is dated June 21, 1860. In it, Sarah wrote that she had not made an entry in nine months and would try to be more regular in writing. There are also several short entries from February 10 to March 8, 1860. They have been written below the entries made for the same day in 1859. Several dried flowers have been pressed into the book. The inside of the front cover contains a label in Italian, indicating that the volume was purchased in Genoa. The back endpapers also feature several sketches/doodles and writing.

University of Delaware. Library.

Self works : diaries, scrapbooks, and other autobiographical efforts : catalog of an exhibition, August 19, 1997-December 18, 1997 : guide to selected sources. Newark, Del. : Special Collections, Hugh M. Morris Library, University of Delaware Library, 1997.

  1. Item 0118: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0097


Processed by Kate Hand, October 2007. Encoded by E. Evan Echols, May 2014.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2014 May 20
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Sarah Marks Stockton travel journal, 1858-1860. 1 volume.
Item 0118
Physical Description

1 volume

Print, Suggest