1859-1869 Diary of an Upper Class Virginia Woman Absorbed in Religion, Culture and Her Social World, Unaware of the Turmoil Brewing around Her


By: Abigail (Abbie) Brown Shaw Cole

Price: $1,445.99

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Condition: Fair with no dust jacket

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On offer is a fascinating diary of an intelligent, musical upper class woman dating from the immediate years before the outbreak of the Civil War in the United States. The diary was written by Abigail (Abbie) Brown Shaw Cole (1823-1906). Written primarily in 1859 and 1860, when she was aged 36-40, Abbie does make one entry in 1869. Abbie was born in Providence, Rhode Island, to Oliver and Sarah (Jenckes) Shaw. Her father was a musician and composer who composed hymns and songs including ?Taunton?, "Bristol?, "Arrayed in Clouds of Golden Light," and "The Missionary Angel." In 1846, Abbie married Hanun Wilbur Cole. Together they had three children: John Hanun Cole (b. 1848) , Caroline Minna Cole Chapin (b. 1850) , and Charles D?Urban Morris Cole (b. 1861). The family moved around a fair bit, living, at various points, in Providence, Rhode Island, Richmond, Virginia, Cambridge, Massachusetts and New York City, New York. The family was wealthy. Hanun Cole was a successful merchant and scholar, his family having owned merchant ships. Both male children, John and Charles, would go on to become lawyers. Charles would attend Harvard and become one of the organizers of the Morristown Civic Association. Abbie?s diary paints a remarkable picture of a wealthy, mostly worry-free life in the antebellum south. She dotes on her young children, promoting their music and language lessons. She is forever socializing and traveling (having a live-in servant means total freedom for our Abbie! ). She is deeply religious, attending St. Paul?s church services and missionary meetings regularly. She reads voraciously in French and takes Italian lessons. She practices the piano religiously, a talent she picked up from her late father. Abbie?s diary opens on January 1, 1859. At the time she is living in Richmond, Virginia. She begins reflectively, discussing her ongoing grief about the loss of her father: ?Last night I felt very sad as it was the anniversary of dear Papa?s death. In thought I went back to the night he so sweetly went to sleep - 10 years ago! I read over some of his favorite Psalms and entries very early?. [Note: Oliver Shaw died Dec 31,1848] Additional excerpts of Abbie?s diary give a flavor of her entries: ?... Lesson in French and Music immediately after breakfast. Mrs. B sent a carriage for me?pleasant times. Was delighted to get at last a long satisfactory letter from Jane. A sweet letter indeed. Oh how glad I am to get it! Wrote to Johnnie. Little pet? [Mar 17, 1859]. ?My wedding anniversary! Wrote Mamma. Reading ?L?Amour? by Michelete. Much impressed with it? [Oct 8, 1859]. ?... Gave Johnnie his first lesson in singing and on the pianoforte ? a sweet voice he has. Wrote dear Mamma?wonder what reply she will make of it ... [Oct 18, 1859]?Reading ?Germaine? by About [Edmond]. Delighted with it?. John reads well after reading ?Compensation?. [It] rained. Stopped at home. And glad with opportunity?practiced two hours? [Feb 17, 1860]. ?Preparing to leave in the ½ past 3 train for P[ortsmouth]. Mama wonderfully well and in good spirits. Had an unusually interesting reading in Ruckin?s with Miss Eaton. Our last?bless the dear child of light and purity. Trunk all packed by 12?At 3 left. Promised to write? [Aug 9, 1860]. Unfortunately, the life of a wealthy woman in the mid-1800s isn?t all pleasure. The following entry is an example of the struggle Abbie faces having a husband who is not as present as she wishes, with an acute awareness that she is powerless to change things: ?...Hanan out again. I should be so happy if we could spend Sundays more socially. I have an idea of how this most peculiar day should be spent. But I never yet realized it. Johnnie went (? ) about Joseph and the servant children. He and I read the three first chapters of Job Eng. Heard [Bishop] Hopkins at St. Paul?s. ?What shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?? [Oct 30, 1859]. [NOTE: She quotes Mark 8: 36 here in reference to her concerns about her husband]. Abbie does not write every day. She writes regularly from January to October of 1859 and picks up again in January of 1860, writing fairly regularly until the end of August, 1860. We know she had her third child, Charles, , in 1861. She makes one entry on Sept 28, 1869, when Charlie is eight years old. The entry is titled ?Charlie?s duties? and lays out how Abbie wants his days to run. An excerpt from that long entry follows: ?Rise at few min before seven?read bible and be down to breakfast at ½ p. Seven?go to the bathing room at fifteen minutes past eight. Go to school?? At the back of her notebook, Abbie records money spent on various items such as writing paper, car fare, clothing and more. She also makes some notes of bills paid and the date of payment. This diary provides outstanding insight into the world of a woman so wealthy she is untouched by the usual challenges of 19th century life, and so immersed in her children, friends, church, arts and culture that she has no need to comment on the massive changes happening in the world around her. The notebook measures 6.0 inches by 8.5 inches. It contains 120 pages and is about 44% complete. The cover shows evident wear marks from age. The binding is sewn. It is extremely loose, The front cover of this softcover book is hanging on by a thread (to the point that it may detach during the packaging and shipping process). The pages are intact and the handwriting is reasonably legible. Minor age toning. Overall Fair. ; Manuscripts; 8vo 8" - 9" tall; 120 pages; Signed by Author

Title: 1859-1869 Diary of an Upper Class Virginia Woman Absorbed in Religion, Culture and Her Social World, Unaware of the Turmoil Brewing around Her

Author Name: Abigail (Abbie) Brown Shaw Cole

Location Published: Richmond, Virginia, 1859-1869

Binding: Softcover

Book Condition: Fair with no dust jacket

Inscription: Signed by Author

Categories: 19th Century Diary

Seller ID: 0011120

Keywords: antebellum virginia upper class woman musician pianist religious