Vassar College Digital Library

Ladd-Franklin, Christine. Diary, 1860-1866

This volume begins with 56 pages of handwriting exercises. The narrative then begins with Christine Ladd's adolescent years during the Civil War. The diary is not simply a daily chronicle; rather, it is a serious journal of self-examination, expressing despondency over the death of her mother, hopes for her future, and the normal anxieties of young womanhood. She does mention family, studies, and friends, but also records her prayers, discusses philosophy, and writes in French. She occasionally mentions the war, but it is not the focus of her thoughts. She does discuss her hopes to attend Vassar and the difficult family circumstances she must overcome to achieve her goal.
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: VCLDiariesLaddFranklinChristine1860061

Friday, Nov. 30. Went down town in the morning and bought a match safe for Aunt [C.] and a basket for leather work - cut leather until dinner time and after dinner made the flowers and acorns - read Dream Life and played dominoes in the evening.

Dec. 1. Thirteen years old today - what better am I than a year ago? or what more do I know? Went down town in the morning and bought some silk for 22 cents dyed my leaves, basket and Aunt Canno's easel - went down town, purchased a straw bonnet for sixty-seven cents and took a walk - read Dream Life in the evening - it was very interesting.

Sunday. Dec. 2 Learned twenty-third Psalm in the morning and went to church - afternoon went to Sunday-school with Jessie Williams for the first time and to church read library book in the eveing - Dr. Folsom came in in the evening and we had nuts and raisins.


: VCLDiariesLaddFranklinChristine1860107

Tuesday.2. Arose quite late having overslept myself. practiced and sewed in the morning, and played jackstraws & backgammon. This afternoon readied fifty pieces of linen about two inches square for lint for the soldiers & enjoyed doing it very much. poor fellows there are so many wounded & I suppose they are sadly in want of many necessaries. I think that when I go home I shall take my twelve dollars from the bank and give it to them. Made five calls this afternoon & only got in at one place, Ella Preston's, where we had a very pleasant call. Finished my tidy this evening. Have been very industrious this afternoon and evening and have not read a word. Indeed have read none of any consequence today.
Thursday.3. My lamp went out last night so I could not work. Made lint nearly all day & began another tidy. Effie and Maria called in the afternoon and I was delighted to see the first. She played splendidly the Mazourka and my Minuet de Mozart and I only wish that I could see her oftener. Today the aunt and children went and I did not feel very sorry though I have been rather lonesome today and homesick. Practiced some in the morning, crocheted & read Harper. Jessie came for me directly after dinner & I have been with her all the afternoon, walking some of the time and making lint. I wish some one from home would write to me. I suppose they have forgotten all about me. It is two weeks since I wrote to father and [Harry] and one since to [Auntie].


: VCLDiariesLaddFranklinChristine1860130
Wednesday, Nov. 19. Today E.[S.] did not recite her translation so I sat next to Miss [S.]. I did not dare to take her hand as E. does though I longed to do it, but on my book there there appeared these words: "[Neseri quod, certe est quod me tibi temperet cestrum.]" She took no notice of them. I do not know that she read them. Miss Benham did not come to recite French but I was in great dread every moment, of seeing her enter. She is such a superior French scholar that the girls say she will be greatly shocked with Miss S.'s pronunciation. 'The ogre' would not let me recite my French Grammar because she was hearing Algebra. She keeps the schoolroom so hot, it makes my head ache dreadfully. At last a letter from dear father, and such a long one and nice one too. They are all settled in the new house and had a serenade one night of all the Pequonoch folks. Buckshot among others. I always like that boy; why, I know not. took my music lesson today got along pretty well. I have such a beautiful piece for my new lesson, 'Gondellied' by Theodor Oesten.* When I can play that I shall consider myself almost made. I am the proudest, crossest, most disagreeable creature that ever was, & that is the reason F. hates me so.

*A German composer, musician, and music teacher.


: VCLDiariesLaddFranklinChristine1860170
"prayerfull" as if he really wanted what he asked and [withal] so trustfull of the goodness & justice of the good God and of His ability and will to bring all the troubles of our country out right in the end. The singing was very fine and I enjoyed all the services exceedingly. This evening the old Dr. Folsom called to the great disturbance of the [usual] quiet contest. I like him pretty well on most subjects, especially did he discourse very learnedly of the human eye, but the way they used up poor Mr.Gage was really shocking to such a firm advocate of him as myself. The subjects of complaint are not at all interesting to me so I shall not enumerate them, but the most serious seems to be that he did not resign when he first came back last May, or rather when he was taken sick about a year previous. How very thankfull I am that he did not!!! There is to be a convention this week, part of the business of which will be to consider his resignation, and undoubtedly it will be [exception]. We are to have two of the ministers here [bid] luck to them.


: VCLDiariesLaddFranklinChristine1860194
-litely expressed her wonder that having been here so long I did not want to go home, calling me a good little girly for being so patient, and gave me some other pretty plain hints. Thank Heaven I shall not be here much longer. Perhaps sometime I can go to school in Cambridge, that is at present the ultimatum of my wishes & desires but I fear they will never be realized. [R]. lives in an atmosphere of books, they always have all the new works of the the best authors and read & appreciate them, whereas I can hardly remember the time when a new book has come into this house, and they do not even take a single periodical. But how goes the affaire du coeur? There is certainly not much progress but it is all owing to my excessive stupidity & awkwardness. If I were in the least lovable how could she help loving me a little when I am so devoted to her. But Alas! it is my nature. I shall never be any thing but despised and hated by mortal man, and my belief in a future existence is at present veiled in a dim & melancholy twilight.


: VCLDiariesLaddFranklinChristine1860244
time I must do my best. But I greatly fear it is all a myth upon which I am feeding my imagination. I have never heard of it but once, & then in an old review, & probably it is quite exploded now.

This evening we all went out in the fields & made wreaths of the beautiful violets, then sat on the piazza, & enjoyed the delicious fragrance of the cherry blossoms & the sweet mildness of the air. Then callers came, & I could not but notice how superior was M. to the country [gawkys] about here. I have not yet had any time for reading or study, but after Harry is gone I shall endeavor to be very regular. I have not seen Lucy today, but I have been building air castles about the excessive studiousness we are to have.... We have a chapter in the Bible to prepare for Sunday School, & I feel quite proud to think that I shall be able to read it in the original though of course it is only by myself.


: VCLDiariesLaddFranklinChristine1860261

think they had been thrown together like Hussy's Jeu de Mots. I am learning to scan now and the lessons in the grammar are tedious but nothing can be gained without labor.

Aug.4. Josie writes a journal and I have again commenced to be regular. In two weeks I am to go to Wilbraham. I am glad to go. I do not really suppose that is a very superior school but experience is the best test and I shall not have long to wait to form an opinion. It may be very fine and I may learn something, at any rate it will be better than my life here for I can get no chance to study more than Latin lessons. It is an open question whether my education is to be finished there or not. I know nothing of the plans of my father, nothing of the state of his finances except that he has lost heavily in stocks this summer and that he has not gotten me a piano although he gave me the promise of one. It is my great desire to have a college education & I shall use every means to bring my plans to a consummation. As I grow older I realize more vividly the rapid flight of time. This summer


: VCLDiariesLaddFranklinChristine1860280
Saturday, Nov. 21. The close of the term approaches. The school is regularly dismissed next Tuesday, but a great proportion of the students have left today, and among them my chum, so I am now left alone in my room. Every thing is in perfect order tonight and looks so cozy & comfortable; but just as I was congratulating myself on the prospect of passing a very pleasant evening, Alice Regina, a little girl from the south, came and entreated me to sleep with her as she also was left alone. i was obliged to consent, though with bad grace. I have half an hour longer to myself however and I will endeavor to improve it in estimating what I have done this term.

It is miserable thing to be motherless! I have no one on earth in whom I may confide with perfect love & confidence, no one that I feel cares for my well-being & rejoices in my happiness. It is especially bitter to be left alone after having experienced the love of a mother like mine and it grows more & more bitter as I grow


: VCLDiariesLaddFranklinChristine1860282
Sunday, Nov. 22. The day is lovely. Yesterday it rained all day and now to see the sun once more is very pleasant. I am sitting by my open window on the fourth floor, the church bells are ringing sweetly, the rays of the sun fall bright & warm upon me and by my side are my Greek books but I do not feel like studying now. There is the bell for the prayer meeting & I think I will go as it is the last time.

I should like to give a good description of my chum, that in after years I may have something to recall her to remembrance, but I do not find the words at my command. However I will try to say a little of her. Her name is Fannie [Shillman], she is nineteen years of age


: VCLDiariesLaddFranklinChristine1860289

Wednesday, 23. Last night I did not retire until one, tonight I am too sleepy to study at half past seven. I agree with the physiologist that nothing is gained by burning the midnight oil, and in future I mean to retire punctually at ten. I am very irregular in my habits and I must strive now to attain a greater degree of regularity. Yesterday I received a letter from father. He had just returned from New York. Annie Murray & Camille Gaylord are making a visit at our house, and next week they with father & Mary are going back to N.Y. But what most concerned me was that I am to stay here at school as long as it is to my advantage to do so. He says I had better not graduate next term, not take too many studies and be careful not to injure my health. Mon pere est un bon pere, et ma mere est une bonne mere. A class in light gymnastics has been formed to day & I have joined. It is all the vogue in school now.