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Mary Huntington Morgan Diary

Identifier: MSN/MN 8008

Scope and Contents

Morgan's diary for 1896 is a single volume (22 cm.) bound in half-calf with marbled boards; it contains 160 leaves, with 299 manuscript pages in the diarist's hand. The front free endpaper is inscribed: "Mary Huntington Morgan, Washington, D.C. January 1, 1896." There are entries for each day of that year, averaging around 3/4 of a page or 220 words. The style of the first-person narrator is simple and direct, and the handwriting is relatively clear. The diary introduces us to family members as well as a variety of friends and acquaintances: Julia, the daughter of Vice-President Adlai Stevenson, the daughters of the renowned clergyman, DeWitt Talmadge, suitors such as Mr. Duvall, and members of foreign embassies such as Mr. Chung. The events that Morgan describes are the everyday occurrences that take place in Washington, or on visits to Bridgeport and New Haven, Connecticut. The interest of the diary often lies in the frequency with which Morgan refers to letter-writing or to the attendance of church services, to dinners and dances. She often makes note of her reading, from William Dean Howells' Indian Summer and Arthur Conan Doyle's Adventures of Sherlock Holmes to such now largely forgotten works as Marie Corelli's Barabbas and John Ames Mitchell's Amos Judd. She mentions plays and musicals like The Geisha and The Wizard of the Nile and provides a picture of the popular culture of the 1890s. Political commentary is only occasional; when William Jennings Bryan won the nomination to run for President on the Democratic ticket, Morgan remarks: "The convention [in Chicago] has been carried by the liberals I am sorry to say."

Like many diarists, Morgan often records her moods: "I have been terribly blue all day." She occasionally becomes introspective and philosophic; at the end of September 1896 she quotes from Nathaniel Hawthorne's Blithedale Romance: "No summer ever came back and no two summers ever were alike. Times change, and people change, and if our hearts do not change as readily, so much the worse for us." The reader can often relate to the described feelings and events: the way Morgan is unhappy at how she appears in photographs or the tedium of waiting three hours in a dentist's office. On the other hand, the diary also offers a glimpse into a more unique world: ". . .mother and I went to the White House to Mrs. Cleveland's tea. It was beautiful, a thoroughly charming affair, and of course Mrs. Cleveland was as lovely as she always is."

In the margin alongside her entry for 30 September Morgan makes reference to a journal for 1895; unfortunately, other diaries and journals have not been located.


  • Creation: 1896


Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Mary Huntington Morgan (1873-1966) was the only daughter of Daniel Nash Morgan (1844-1931) and Medora Huganen Judson (1843-1924). Daniel Nash Morgan began his career in the dry goods business and served as director, then president of the City National Bank of Bridgeport, Connecticut. During this same period he was active in politics: common council, board of education, mayor (of Bridgeport), state legislature, and state senate. President Grover Cleveland appointed him to the office of Treasurer of the United States, a position he filled from 1893 to 1897. It was during this period that Mary Huntington Morgan wrote the present diary, chronicling her life as a young, eligible socialite in the nation's capital. The diary is filled with references to luncheons, dinners, dances, and teas. She is frequently engaged in music lessons, letter writing, and reading, as well as attending church services, theater performances, and lectures at the Smithsonian. Because of her father's position, she was often invited to official government events and diplomatic receptions: the opening of the Senate, the celebration of Kaiser Wilhelm II's birthday at the German embassy, a reception at the Russian minister's estate in honor of the coronation of Nicholas and Alexandra. After the inauguration of the newly elected William McKinley in March of 1897, Mary Huntington Morgan and her family returned to Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Mary Huntington Morgan married Daniel Edwards Brinsmade on 9 June 1904 and lived in Fairfield, Connecticut. She died on 23 June 1966.


1 volume

Language of Materials



A manuscript diary of some 80,000 words kept by Mary Huntington Morgan (1873-1966) in Washington DC during the year 1896. Morgan was the unmarried 23-year-old daughter of Daniel Nash Morgan (1844-1931), Treasurer of the United States under Grover Cleveland.


The collection consists of one diary plus one enclosure.

Mary Huntington Morgan diary
Edited Full Draft
Kenneth Kinslow
January 2014
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556