Friday, July 4, 2008

Blood and Judd

A short post about Blood and Judd, because they’re such great names and they rhyme. A history student, Steven St Onge (not a bad name in itself), has been digging around in the Special Collections & Archives at Wesleyan University and discovered a couple of interesting diaries from the 19th century. One is by Lorenzo Whiting Blood who, it seems, had a bit of rough childhood, and then some trouble finding a job and a wife; the other is by Mrs Judd who wrote about travelling with her husband and children.

Wikipedia tells me that Wesleyan University is ‘a highly selective private liberal arts college’, in Middletown, Connecticut. Although founded, in 1831, by Methodists, it is now secular. The Special Collections & Archives department is located in Olin Library and claims an extensive collection of rare books and materials related to the university and Middletown. St Onge has been digging around in this archive, and prepared notes and finding aids for two interesting diaries. These notes have just been publicised through the Special Collections & Archives blog.

Lorenzo Whiting Blood, a Methodist minister, was born in 1812 and died in 1881. For about ten years, as a young man between 1835 and 1844, he wrote a diary. It begins, according to the Special Collections & Archives website notes, with a look into his past as he explains about being raised by Hindal, a cloth trader, who used to beat him regularly. There is a lot in the diary about his time at Wesleyan, and his struggles to become a Methodist minister. There are entries about his failed attempts to set up a school, about preaching to prison inmates on good behaviour, and about visiting a school for the deaf where he was amazed to see ‘conversations with their hands’. More personally, he describes how, at one point, he rushes home to try and stop his brother taking up a job on a whaler. According to St Onge, once Blood leaves university, the journal then describes ‘the troubles [he] faces trying find a job, marrying his hometown love, and ends with him becoming deacon of Mystic [Connecticut]’.

The second diary, for which the Special Collections & Archives website now has extensive notes thanks to St Onge, is that of Harriet Stewart Judd, wife of Orange Judd a former Wesleyan student. Born in 1822, Harriet married Judd in 1855, and she was around 50 when she wrote the diary now in the archives. It is titled Notes of Travel – No. 5, which indicates there were or are others - but nothing is known about them. This diary was written from 30 October 1872 to Christmas Day 1873 and chronicles three trips taken by the Judd family (Harriet and Orange, and three children) across the Eastern coast of the US States and to Europe. While Harriet mentions the tourist sites they visit (Naples, Pompeii, Paris, London, and Liverpool), she also writes about the family’s dynamic and her husband’s ongoing sicknesses. An interesting event occured, the online notes say, when the family visited a Genoa hospital housing thousands of poor people including many orphans. These orphans were trained in furniture making, and seemed content. Judd writes that she was relieved to see charity in Genoa but surprised to see so many ‘dwarfs’ in the hospital.

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