I spent most of my weekend attempting to go through and transcribe more of Rachel‘s letters.
For those who haven’t been following along, Rachel was a teenage girl who was attending a prestigious boarding school in Boston (and later in Philadelphia) in the 1890s. I bought a bunch of letters written by her (and other family members/friends) at a flea market two summers ago. Most of the letters were written to her cousins Will and Jack, who were right around her age and were at Phillips Academy and later Harvard and Yale.
I’m going to try to get around to photographing the letters soon, but for now here are a just a few of the many, many highlights and interesting tidbits…
- Rachel was almost expelled from Dana Hall in 1895 for… something. She never says exactly what she did. The only thing I’ve managed to discern is that it started with her and her roommate going to the headmistress to jokingly “confess their crimes” after another girl had been expelled for fighting, and ended with two full school faculty meetings and her losing her
HogsmeadeBoston privileges until Easter.
- Rachel has an aunt named Isabel S. Smith. As far as I can tell the S also stands for Smith.
- Will sent Rachel a picture of himself and his roommate Allen. Rachel hung the picture in her room. The other girls in her dormitory saw it and now everyone is in love with Allen.
- Allen refers to himself as Will’s husband. He signs his letters to him “Hubby”. Rachel randomly ran into Allen’s dad somewhere and wrote Will to let him know that his “father-in-law” seems like a lovely man.
- A lucky rabbit’s foot was THE must-have accessory of 1896.
- Trying to make plans by letter and telegraph seems to have been surprisingly similar to trying to make plans by text
- For the 1896 Election Rachel’s school had mock elections where each dorm room was an election district, and then they stayed up late waiting for the results which were announced by ringing the electric bell in the tower (6 times for Bryan, 12 for McKinley). None of these girls would be able to actually vote for president for another 24 years.
- In one weekend Rachel saw performances by Emma Calvé, E. H Sothern and Julia Marlowe.
- Her reviews of the performances were as follows:
- “Calvé was perfect…She was called back seventeen times and finally sang.”
- “Well of course you’ve seen her so there’s no use in my raving.”
- Rachel heard Calvé
sing this in person.
Using multiple exclamation points is not a new thing
- Will has a crush on Julia Marlowe