October 7, 1852



Oct 7th Thursday  Have been cutting out some shirts

for bosoms.  Catharine Murphy has made

four window curtains for my front chamber

Mrs Witherell Mrs S Ames & self passed the

afternoon & evening at Mr Swains  Mr Ames 

came to tea and Oliver rode down after us and 

stopt awhile Mr & Mrs Meader are there &

Ellen Meader  Augustus wife went to Boston


There was quite a bit of socializing today, prompted in part by good weather. “[T]he 7th was a fair pleasant day + verry warm,” noted Old Oliver Ames. Henry David Thoreau, some 40 miles to Oliver’s north, was more discursive about the sunshine:

I sit on Poplar Hill. It is a warm Indian-summerish afternoon. The sun comes out of clouds, and lights up and warms the whole scene. It is perfect autumn. I see a hundred smokes arising through the yellow elm-tops in the village, where the villagers are preparing for tea. It is the mellowing year. The sunshine harmonizes with the imbrowned and fiery foliage.**

The elm trees such as the ones that Thoreau mentions would also have been seen by Old Oliver. In fact, they would have been seen across the state and beyond. Once upon a time, American Elms were ubiquitous in the United States.They were tall trees with a wine-glass profile and a graceful green canopy. In the 20th century, however, most of them were wiped out by Dutch Elm disease. The existence of “Elm Streets” in communities around the country attests to the fact that elms were once as common as maples or pines. As Thoreau suggests, many a small town lived under their shade.

*Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection

**Henry David Thoreau, Journal, courtesy of http://hdt.typepad.com/henrys_blog



6 thoughts on “October 7, 1852

  1. From Oakes Plimpton:
    Sarah: Hi! Now I am receiving the diary. Great explanations and references! But question — what on Earth does this mean: Oct 7th Thursday Have been cutting out some shirts for bosoms. Reminds me of the Poisonwood Bible where the native women cut holes in the Tee shirts given them for modesty, for their breasts.

    • Good morning, Oakes. So glad you like the diary. I should have explained the reference to “bosoms.” Evelina was about to sew some shirt fronts – what we might call dickeys – to go with the shirts she has been making for her husband and sons. It was common for the men to wear the same long-sleeved, somewhat loose shirt for days at a time, changing only the shirt fronts, or bosoms, or dickeys – whatever you want to call them – whenever they got soiled or spilled on. Men also changed their collars regularly.

  2. In the spirit of the question and only for that reason, I will speculate that the material was stuffed into some brassiere-type accoutrement to provide a bosom for those who may have wanted more. 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s