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1 ELSA DOROTHY FIELD 1895 ORIGINAL MANUSCRIPT DIARY AND FASHION JOURNAL HANDWRITTEN BY A YOUNG KANSAS CITY MISSOURI GIRL, DAUGHTER OF ONE OF MISSOURI'S WEALTHY BUSINESS FAMILIES
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI 1895 Fair+ Manuscript 
On offer is a super, manuscript relic of 19th Century life in Kansas City Missouri dated 1895 through 1904 [1898 and 1899 are the fullest] handwritten by a young woman [13 in 1895] named Elsa Dorothy Field who does a great job as a diarist detailing her life and times as a member of a wealthy family headed by her father Edmund B. Field a bank broker and her mother Enna N. Field. She had a sister by the name of Marcia and a brother by the name of Edmund Mills. The beginning of the 150 page diary lists three different addresses, the final being "2415 E. 9th, St." a house her grandmother purchased to be closer to the family. At the beginning Elsa uses the first 12 pages to recap her life from 1895 to 1898 and then she writes, not daily, but with more regularity. She states at one point in 1899: "It really seems like I might write once a week but I really don't have time. I will close now hoping that whenever I write I can be able to record a happy and prosperous time. There is one advantage in not writing often and that is I forget the petty disturbances and things and remember when I write only things that amount to something." As with many teenagers from time immemorial she is introspective to a fault and perhaps self esteem is an issue. She writes on November 19th, 1899: "This is my seventeenth birthday. I think that if I could have seen myself as I am now on my seventh birthday I would have been very much disappointed as I supposed of course that I would be a very good musician, have lots of friends, and a great deal of influence, be exceedingly beautiful and have a nice and pretty home. As it is I am a very poor musician, I have some friends that I like very well and others whom I care for merely because they are somebody to talk to, I have only a little influence and I am not at all satisfied with my appearance. There is one thing that I wanted that I have gotten and that is a beautiful home. Perhaps I wished for things which I will do well to accomplish by 27." Her writings will be of particular interest to historians and researchers of the history of fashion and clothing, as she describes in great detail her wardrobe, including any new dresses she receives for various social events and being a very social woman she writes quite often about her wardrobe. Here are some snippets: "January 18th, 1902 Looking over this book it seems that I have spent a great deal more space in describing my clothes than in anything else but I assure you that if I have spent a great deal of time on it here I do not in any other way for mama often scolds me because I care little about it. Not that I never am dressy or inclined to prim. I simply wear what is sewed on and the best person in the world can't sew everything on a girls dress. When I do fix up or dress to go out I look very swell and quite grand as I am tall but when I am not I look like a reformer. Notwithstanding all of this I am going to describe my new dress which I got just in time to wear to Mattie Lee's…." "February 23rd, 1895 We went out to Miss Janie's today. Percey and I rode out on our bicycle and the others road on the cable car. She is making us some lovely doll dresses. Percy built us a nice playhouse in the barn. One of the rooms will lock. We have lots of fun. Papa went away Thursday. He will return Sunday." "January 1st, 1896 This is New Years and a great many things have happened. Aunt Zella died but first Uncle Joe died. Sister got here safely and can ride. We went to El Dorado. Miss Janie went too. We staid three weeks and met Mr. Conn. When we came back to Kansas City grandma Mills did not want us to stay at her house anymore and we did not want to stay so we went out on very short notice and found a rented house that suits very well. I go to Humbolt School so does sister. I like it better than I do Woodland School. My last birthday I was thirteen…." "January 13th, 1898 After awhile Carlton came. She and Roberta looked so nice in their new dresses. Carlton's was green Bedford cord trimmed in pink satin braid. Roberta's wine color trimmed in black passmenten over white. While we were talking Rosa brought in chocolate and cake. We also told fortunes with our fortune teller doll. Roberta liked hers so well that she wrote it down and took it home. A week from today I will get my grades. I will write them here if I am not ashamed to do it. I hoped I can write them but I won't unless they are good." "May 15th, 1898 I have been wanting to write in my diary of over a week but have had so much else to do that I had to let it go. It is just two weeks until school is out. I do not suppose I will have very many more hard lessons…..Since I last wrote the United States have engaged in war with Spain. So far we have been victorious but I am very much afraid that it can't last long. Commodore Dewey scored quite a victory over the Spanish fleet at Manila and if he would be enforced could easily hold the Philippine Islands. Those in authority seem slow to act and though it is almost two weeks since it happened no reinforcements have been sent and I am afraid that he may have to leave the islands. I don't say that I would be glad in the least if the U.S. should be defeated yet I think it would be a good thing if the eastern states who brag so ever since the war between the Confederates and Federals would get a taste of war. Here it is the middle of May and although March, April and this far in May we have had scarcely a day when It has not rained or been threatening……." "June 21st, 1898 Not very long ago I went down to see Carlton in the course of a rather gay and perhaps giddy conversation Carlton asked me if I thought that I had ever reached the highest of happiness or thought that I would (be) reach there. After a great deal of talking and laughter we decided that neither of us or anyone had reached that height. We also decided that we would keep track of our happy times and try to see if everything was going just as we wanted it to. I do not think every time I am having a good time I will stop to see if just everything is going right or think about anything that would damp my pleasure because if I did the wrong things would swallow up the pleasant things and I am sure there is no time when everything is perfect or a flaw could not be found in the most delightful things…..I am going downstairs in a minute and make candy with my sister….." "July 26th, 1898 The bells are just striking six. I have just finished a letter to Marcia and Lucille who are spending two weeks with Grandma on her Petlis County farm. I don't think I have had any particularly gay or happy time this last month this last month though I have made friends with one real nice girl, Marion Finlay, with whom I took supper out at Fairmount Park the forth. Mama is just getting able to be around. On account of her sickness I have had to do quite great deal of sewing, really not very much but it seems quite a great deal to me as I have never done much. I tucked Marcia's an old liner skirt of mine which was all right but had been out grown by me……I would not be writing here if I had not gotten so warm that I wilted my white collar and don't want to put another one on. I also see that I have gotten ink on my cuffs. I really should put on my swill but when I wear a thin dress I have to wear so many skirts that it makes me hot. Now, I have on high black shoes and ribbed black stockings, white duck skirt cut in the fashion of the day, dark red leather belt, white skirt waist, red necktie, hair in "Gretchen braids." "August 1st, 1899 It is over a year since I have written in my diary though since then a great many things have happened and passed which would have been nice to record here if I only had some of the time that I had last summer. Then I was having an exceedingly quiet time and I thought a stupid time but now I look back upon as a very happy and peaceful two months even though mama was sick and the few friends I had whom I visited were out of town. Almost exactly one month after my last writing mama felt like she was able to leave home and go to Excelsior Springs. We went. I found Marion and a Miss Virginia Jones who proved to be a most charming and pleasant Mississipian just my own age, over there. We three together with Jessie and Edna Butt, two K. C. girls, had a very gay time together indeed. After we had staid at Excelsior two weeks we all came home very much fitted, mama was especially so. Rosa our old girl disappointed us about coming home so we have done our own work all winter. The day we got home from Excelsior we heard that Virginia who had left the Springs a few days before us for her home in Oxford Mississippi, was still in town and that her family could not go home on account of the Yellow Fever….Marion gave a very unique and gay supper and a little informal dance afterwards. She gave it in their new house which was then very near done. The supper a very nice one, was eaten on impromptu tables and as the gas fixtures had not been put in after it commenced to get dark, the people at one end of the table could not see those at the other. We danced by candle light and to the music of a mandolin, guitar and piano. Of course the waltz and two-step were danced but we like the Virginia Reel best….." "August 4th, It took us a long time to make up our minds where to go if we went anywhere. Mama, Percy, Marcia, Lucille, Edmund Mills and I wanted very much to go west but we did not know whether we could or not. Finally after a great deal of discussion we found ourselves at ten o'clock June 27th on the west bound Union Pacific and the next day at half past eleven we arrived in Colorado Springs. We went immediately to the Spaulding Hotel. Colorado Springs is a beautiful clean place and although the surrounding mountains seem almost at hand, the nearest are about three miles distant. They seem close on account of the unusually clear air. Pikes Peak is twenty five miles from there yet is very easily seen. All the houses look as though they have just been painted and there care is very great, many nice and pretty ones. There are forty millionaires living on Cascade Avenue. The streets being so wide smooth, pretty and otherwise nice, the place is a perfect paradise for bicycles….." "I won't attempt to tell of the many interesting ways in which we spent our time in Colorado Springs but will say that I don't regret it at all. The night of the third of July Pikes Peak was illuminated for the first time and although we were fully 25 miles form the top we saw it plainly. It was so cold out that night that we couldn't stay out even though w had on winter wraps as there was a blizzard on Pikes Peak…." "October 6th, 1899 Last night all of us went to see Paine's Battle of Manila and fireworks. It was the best thing of its kind that I have ever seen. They had some clowns, acrobats and other vaudeville performers who did some very amusing things. The show was given at Exposition Park. Quite a way in front of the seats there was some scenery to represent the Bay of Manila with the Spanish Ships and the castle. The soldiers came out of the castle first and drilled and when they finished threw themselves down to watch the performers that I have spoken of. Finally a serviceman came tearing in telling them that the Americans were coming. Then everything was in confusion, soldiers were running every way at once and the women who had been watching the drill ran screaming to the fort. Then the ships opened fire. When the smoke cleared we saw that the Spanish Ships had been damaged and the castle badly damaged by fire. There was a skirmish between three Mexican's and Spaniards on land in which the Red Cross nurses made their appearance. This finished the battle and the fireworks commenced. The fireworks were beautiful. The consisted of fireworks and sky rockets and a great many lit pieces. There was an elephant who moved his trunk and tail very naturally, a man who preformed on the trapeze, and other things." "January 2nd, 1901 Well now I am a twentieth Century Girl and I don't see that I am any different from the girl I was two days ago. I am behind in writing up my diary as usual. If I would write as I go along there would have been many things to write but when I skip so much time I must only mention the most important things which have happened. For a long time mama has been wanting to give a reception and every fall something has hindered her and she has had to put it off. This summer, however, we made up our minds that we would give it this fall about the last of October and made up our lists and arranged different things……" "October 6th, 1901 I must tell about my dress. It was made by Mrs. Dexter, the best dressmaker in town and everything about it is fine. It is a light blue silk foulard with white figures and little black dots. The skirt has little pleats on the side breadths about two inches apart and there are two graduated circular flounces on the bottom headed with two bands of black velvet ribbon. It was not only my first long dress but it was made with a slight sweep. The waist is made of white chiffon over white silk with a shaped bolero of the tucked silk. The edge of the jacket is finished with lace. There are a number of other little things about the dress which make it very stylish and handsome. Oh I almost forgot to tell about the lining for the skirt or rather the drop skirt which is of blue silk taffeta just to match the dress and furnished with accordion pleated ruffle. Altogether the dress is beautiful and very becoming but I am sure that it is much too fine for me. I enjoyed wearing it and I am very sure that grandma loves to see me in it…." "About the first of October we had our fall festivities which have dwindled considerably in respect to parades but increased in the number of balls. This year we had only one parade, The Karnival ___ Parade which really wasn't fit to look at but the two balls which were given in Convention Hall were beautiful. The Priests of Pallas Ball was first and the main festoons of it were the Electric Lights. About eleven the hall suddenly dark remained so a few seconds and when the lights came back the effect was beautiful. The Carnival or Masque Ball was very much like the first only less dignified. I only got to go to one of them this time but expect to go to both next year…" "October 9th, 1904 For a long time after reading over some of my past notes in this book I have sat and wondered whether I would put anything else down or not. The rest seems so unlike me, that is I still seem to be out talking to absolute strangers and recounting things that I really care very little about. I have always wished that I had time to write frequently and dwell more on my pleasant friends and the things I think as it is all I can say of the whole year that I have neglected this book is that I have kept an account of the summer before last which I spent in Europe and that during the following winters when I made music my only study…….I am not going to say anymore for I hesitate to bring this little book to a close but sometimes when I feel that a new chapter in my life has begun I will write the closing lines. Although I doubt if anyone ever can tell just when one period in a life story closes and another begins." Included is a three page letter dated April 22, 1901 by Elsa to Nadine tucked the pages. The covers of the 6" x 7¼" book are detached but present. The cover page, the first two pages of writing and the back page are loose. Overall G. 
Price: 2085.99 USD
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