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Hattie M. French Diaries

Identifier: MS-0435

Scope and Contents

This collection consists of two diaries kept by Hattie French on two separate family summer vacations.

The first volume dates from July 9-August 13, 1874, and chronicles a beachside holiday on the Atlantic coast when Hattie is 15 years old. Her vacation is spent with her mother, father, sister and extended family, and filled with swimming, clam bakes, boating, ice cream, and dancing at Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, and New Bedford. The family journeys from their home in Buffalo, NY with a stop in New York City, where Hattie briefly describes Central Park. She details her friendship with Jessie Taylor, who she met on the beach. The two exchange autograph albums and have minor adventures together.

The second diary details Hattie's summer trip from July to September in 1878. This journey was undertaken "for her health" and shared with companions Grace Milles, Emma Hitchcock, cousin Fannie French, and sister Abbie (Daisy) French. They sailed from Buffalo to Minnesota on a northern route on Lake Superior and the River St. Marie to Duluth. Their final destination was Faribault, MN, to stay with extended family.  In this volume, Hattie writes about a variety of travel adventures, including getting stranded briefly on a sandbank in the low Mississippi River, dancing with other passengers on the boat while entertained by African-American musicians, and seeing a number of attractions, such as the chapel at the Shattuck-St.Mary's School, and the local asylum for the deaf and dumb. Hattie and her friends pass the time by looking at stereoscope pictures, "tramping" around on local bluffs to admire scenery, archery, writing letters home, and sending and receiving postals (or postcards).

Hattie's uncle in Faribault seems to be a photographer, as he runs a "Gallery" at which the girls often "sit" to have their pictures taken; there is also mention made of her uncle taking "parody pictures," entering his pictures in the (presumably county) fair, and photographing the famous horse "Rarus."

The 1878 is significantly age-toned around the fore-edges of the notebook, and the writing in these margins is frequently unreadable.


  • 1874-1878
  • Majority of material found in 1874, 1878


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in some or all of these materials have not been transferred to San Diego State University. Copyright resides with the creator(s) of materials contained in the collection or their heirs. The nature of archival collections is such that multiple creators are often applicable and copyright status may be difficult or even impossible to determine. In any case, the user must assume full responsibility for any use of the materials, including but not limited to, obtaining publication rights and copyright infringement. When requesting images from Special Collections & University Archives for publication, we require a signed agreement waiving San Diego State University of any liability in the event of a copyright violation.

Biographical Note

Hattie French was born in Buffalo, Erie County, New York in 1859, and died 28 December 1923. Her parents were Edward French and Abigail Furman, and she had one sister, Abbie. Her sister married Frank Crowell and relocated near Lakeside, California, and Hattie and her mother followed soon after. Hattie and Abbie adopted the orphaned children of a relative. The family was active in the formation of the Lakeside Presbyterian Church, and were members of the church for many years.


0.20 Linear Feet

Language of Materials




Processing Information

March 2010; separated from previous "Rarities" collection

Hattie M. French Diaries
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections & University Archives Repository

5500 Campanile Dr. MC 8050
San Diego CA 92182-8050 US