|Title||Louisa Trumbull at Twelve, Diary|
|Type||Primary Sources: Diary|
Louisa Jane Trumbull was born on October 12, 1822. She was the fourth of the twelve children of George Trumbull, a banker and businessman, and his wife Louisa Clap. They lived in Worcester, Massachusetts. Louisa began her diary in 1829 when she was seven years old and wrote in it regularly through 1837 when she was 14. She filled four books of blank paper with information about her family and daily activities.
Excerpts from the Diary of Louisa Trumbull
January 29th 1834. Our quarter* at Mr. Wright’s was out yesterday and Mr. Wright gave us today for a holiday. I have spent a very happy day today, in fact I have not been so happy as I have been today for this long while. I will now write how I have passed my time. I got up this morning at eight o’clock and after eating my breakfast I washed up the breakfast things and then sat down to my work and sewed until twelve o’clock. I then put up my work, swept the kitchen, prepared some bread and milk for Susan and Charles. I then made my own & Joseph’s bed and fixed up my room. I then ate my dinner & afterwards warmed my india rubbers* and put on my cloak and bonnet and went up to call for Mary Jennison to go down street with me. We went down to Mr. Harris’s and bought me a lead pencil & Sarah a book. I then went to Mr. Dorr and Howland’s and bought a slate & Slate pencil for Nancy. I then returned and gave Sarah her book & Nancy her slate with which they were much pleased. I then read some in the “Juvenile Repository”* and have spent my evening in writing in my journal. I suppose one reason of my being so happy today is because I have tried to be as pleasant as I possibly could and I think I have succeeded tolerably well. Sometimes I feel almost discouraged about trying to be pleasant but I know that if I persevere I shall at length accomplish the glorious event for which I have so long toiled and toiled in vain.
Worcester, Saturday evening, February 22nd 1834. Another week has passed away and another evening devoted to writing in my journal has come round it seems fit and proper that I should review my conduct of the past week and to form some good resolutions for the preceding. Have I improved any? Am I a better child? If so I have not lived in vain. If not I have offended my Maker and Presever…May my conduct on this earth be such that I can meet death with composure and with pleasure. My reflections this evening are more, much more pleasant than the one before. I have, I think, in part at least overcome the petulant* disposition which I think is my chief and principal difficulty. I have at least found out one thing. When I feel angry and ready to give some sharp answer, I keep still and do not say a single word. I have found this a very effectual method to conquer my disposition and I shall try and persevere and at length I hope to become a pleasant girl…
[A full year has passed between these entries.]
February 7 1835. Since I last wrote we have entered upon a new year and many things have happened…First, Father has failed [in business]. I need not say this is a new and important event in the history of our little family circle. I shall make no remarks upon this for they require none save to say that Father is universally pitied. Secondary, Elizabeth Trumbull is engaged to be married to William Lincoln…Thirdly, Father has had the gout in both of his feet. Mother took the sole care of him and George was Cashier of the bank…I have been sick but am now getting better…When the weather gets a little warmer I shall probably go to Greenfield [to visit Grandparents] and stay about a month. I wish much to go for I am sick of the noise and crying of our little children and glad shall I be to go there where in the quiet of Aunt Susan’s family I shall for a short time at least escape that noise which is daily and hourly made by each child from Sarah down to Isabella…
Wednesday afternoon, February 11th 1835. Nothing of special moment has occurred since I last wrote. I do not feel much better and I begin to be afraid I never shall get out again, as I have been completely isolated from the world without for the space of a fortnight* and three days. Caroline [Louisa’s older sister, 14 years old]…is going to singing school* tonight…What is there I would not give to go with her!…As soon as I can I mean to go round and drink tea with everybody that I can do so without an invitation. I have today received my usual scoldings not unaccompanied with blows and thumps from Sarah [Louisa’s younger sister, 10 years old]…And much would I give that for one day Mother could witness how much she troubles and belabours* me. Of all the punishments that could be inflicted upon me, none could be equalled or begin to be equalled by obliging me to live with her…For her I feel not that love which one sister should feel for another, but I cannot love any one be it who it may who is in realy [reality] my enemy…I wish to go from my home to escape the tongue and hands of Sarah!!
Saturday morning, April 4th 1835. …In keeping a journal I at first did it because my sisters kept one. Afterwards I wrote because it was the wish of my mother and now it is done not only to serve as means of being employed about something useful and proper, but because it is a source of pleasure to me. “In after life,” said my Mother, “you will read with pleasure what you are now writing.” And even now I am much interested in what I wrote a year or two ago…In the pages of these two books [her diaries] there is probably little, perhaps nothing, that would amuse any save myself. But as they were written for no eye save mine, if they amuse my mind or gratify mine eye their purpose will be accomplished. Therefore I begin my next book as I began my last in many respects. My purpose being (as may be very plainly seen by reading it) to keep an account of the most important things that happen in our family. Together with the births, deaths, and marriages of our friends and acquaintances…
May 8th 1835. …Elizabeth Paine has got a beautiful wax doll as large as a baby that is a fortnight old. It is most elegantly dressed and opens and shuts its eyes. It was sent to her from London. She has got a great collection of toys but this, I believe, is considered the handsomest plaything. I also have a beautiful doll far handsomer than hers. It is much larger, has beautiful blue eyes and five teeth. It is named Isabella Frink Trumbull [Louisa’s baby sister]. Her doll was given her by a friend. Ours was given by a much greater friend, even our God…
May 9th 1835, Saturday morning. ...Greene Street has increased amazingly in the course of a year. The houses seem to be formed and placed here by enchantment. I can hardly realize the change which has been affected. In fact the whole town has altered very much. Old houses are continually coming down and new ones as continually filling their places. Worcester is a very large place and in my own humble opinion a very pleasant one. It is an old but true saying “there’s nae place like home”…
Sunday evening, May 10th 1835. Caroline is to appear today in her new bonnet which cost three dollars and seventy-eight cents. It is trimmed with blue ribbon which came to forty cents. Mrs. Butman last night sent me some preserved pineapple and I have just written her a note of thanks…
Monday afternoon, May the 11th 1835. It has ever been my dear Mother’s desire that every day something should be written in our journals and therefore I am prepared to write in mine although I have little or nothing to write. William and very possibly Elizabeth will go to Greenfield in the course of this week as he is obliged to go on business and she wishes much to accompany him. I have written therefore a few lines to Grandmother…Elizabeth Paine has begun to study Latin. Her father rebelled at first but at last concluded it was best to consent…Sarah Flagg brought me a fate flower* this morning—I find Lizzy is to marry a man of religious principles, Cally a merchant, and I a peddlar. Poor I come off rather badly. Liz I don’t know who hers can apply to but Caroline’s must mean William Frick and as to mine I know nothing of peddlars excepting there is an immense sight of them, tin peddlars more particularly…
Wednesday noon, May 13th. …The day is beautiful and I think I shall go out in the course of the afternoon. Isabella has a horrid ringworm* which pains her very much. Excepting that she is quite well, dear little one...I feel much better today and begin to flatter myself I shall be in Greenfield by June…But enough of this and as I have written all I think worthy of writing I cease till morrow-day.
Friday afternoon, May 15th 1835. As the day has been very unpleasant, the scholars* have none of them been to school. It is clearing off this afternoon…Miss Randall is not engaged, as reported, but it is her sister who is to be married to a physician…
Thursday noon, May 19th. …I wish much to go to G[reenfield]. We shall not probably leave till the middle or latter part of June…Miss R. has left Worcester to attend her sister’s wedding. I never went to one in all my life.
Wednesday evening, June 3rd 1835. Yesterday took tea at Aunt Bradishes. [Cousin] Emma today came and called to see us this evening. She invited me to go to Milton on a visit of a month. I accepted of course and on Saturday I leave Worcester for the first time without my mother. I anticipate much pleasure from my visit…
Glossary*belabours - to strike with blows; to thump
*fate flower - a toy used in telling fortunes or predicting the future
*fortnight - 14 days
*india rubbers - rubber overshoes
*Juvenile Repository - A publication of educational stories and poems. There was a Juvenile Repository published in Boston in 1833 and 1834.
*petulant - peevish; annoyed by small things
*quarter - a term of school, usually 12 weeks
*ringworm - a skin disease characterized by ring-shaped patches of blistered, scaly and discolored skin
*scholars - students, children attending school
*singing school - music classes sponsored by people interested in improving quality of singing at church services; social gatherings for young people
SourceJournals of Louisa Jane Trumbull, Worcester, Mass., 1829-1837, Volumes 1-4. Trumbull Family Papers, American Antiquarian Society, Worcester, Mass. Selected entries. Edited by Old Sturbridge Village.