Elizabeth Sandwith Drinker diaries

Making up this collection are thirty-four of Elizabeth Sandwith Drinker's original diaries from 1758 to 1807 (there are none from 1787 or 1788), undated bound and unbound typescripts of the diaries, and photocopies of her diaries from the years 1797 to 1807 that were made in the 1970s when the...

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Bibliographic Details
Main Author: Drinker, Elizabeth Sandwith 1734-1807 (Creator)
Collection:Elizabeth Sandwith Drinker Diaries
Collection Number:1760
Format: Manuscript
Language:English
Subjects:
Online Access:Link to finding aid
Physical Description: 1.5 Linear feet ; 4 boxes, 41 volumes
Access: The typescripts and photocopies are open for research. Due to their fragile condition, the original volumes are closed to researchers.
Summary: Making up this collection are thirty-four of Elizabeth Sandwith Drinker's original diaries from 1758 to 1807 (there are none from 1787 or 1788), undated bound and unbound typescripts of the diaries, and photocopies of her diaries from the years 1797 to 1807 that were made in the 1970s when the diaries were microfilmed. The copies, transcripts, and published versions (see the bibliography) are open to researchers. The diaries are composed solely of Elizabeth's personal recollections, which constitute a day-by-day account of the life of a well-to-do Quaker woman living in Philadelphia in the late 1700s. Elizabeth's interests were diverse but she was little concerned with political or economic questions, except when they directly touched upon her family. However, she did write about the American Revolution and included detailed descriptions of the treatment of Quaker non-combatants, and of the British occupation of Philadelphia, principally during 1777. Her accounts about the events of the Revolution range from general to personal, and are occasionally quite detailed. For instance, on October 9, 1777, she recalled "fireing last night, and heavey fireing this morning from 5 o'clock 'til between 6 & 7, it was the Frigit and Gondelows, playing upon the English, who were errecting a Battry on, or near the Banks of the Schuylkill." In the bulk of her entries, Elizabeth discussed private or family matters and paid particular attention to health matters and medical procedures. "Our little Henry was innoculated by Docr. Redman, in between 12 and 1 o'clock," she wrote on February 18, 1773, "he took a pill this Evening, which did not make him sick as the others had done." She gave special consideration to the Yellow Fever outbreaks in Philadelphia, particularly the epidemics of 1793 and 1798. A year before the outbreak, she noted on August 1, 1792, "'tis a sickly time now in philada. and there has been an unusual number of funerals lately here." Since the Drinkers were conscientious Quakers and there are also entries about meetings of the Society of Friends in Philadelphia. Additionally, Elizabeth wrote about visits to and from various friends and family and discussed her needlework. She sometimes included other bits of information that shed light on her personal life, such as, at the end of her 1802 diary, an apparent list of books she had read that include works such as The Vagabond by George Walker, The Life and Memoirs of Elizabeth Chudleigh, and Reasons for withdrawing from Society with people called the Quakers by John Hancock of Lisbon, Ireland.
The diaries of Elizabeth Sandwith Drinker highlight the life of a Quaker woman living in Philadelphia in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Between 1758 and 1807, Drinker fastidiously wrote in her journals, usually about her family and their health and well being. Occassionaly, she also detailed medical practices and her own moral standards. She discussed major events insofar as they affected her family, such as the Revolutionary War and the 1793 Yellow Fever outbreak. As a member of the famous merchant family, the Drinkers, she also came in contact with many other well-known families, including the Shippens, Whartons, and Rawles, and such encounters are often noted. The collection includes her original diaries, as well as typescripts of excerpts from them and photocopies of the diaries from the years 1797 to 1807.