Edward S. Adams: Journal, 1873-1874 | 00.3

Historical Sketch:

Edward S. Adams, son of Robert Adams and Lydia (Stow) Adams, was born in Fall River on June 15, 1856. His father owned a book and stationary store in Fall River. His mother, the first woman to become a member of the Fall River school board, was a native of Dedham, Massachusetts. After her graduation from the Lexington Normal School in 1841, she taught school in Dedham and Fall River before her marriage.

Edward boarded at English and Classical School at Washington and Highland Streets in West Newton, Massachusetts, for a post-graduate year during 1873 and 1874. While there he lived with sixteen other boys in his school “family.” In 1894, Edward was a member of the Fall River school board and vice-president of the People’s Cooperative Bank in the same city.  

The West Newton English and Classical School, also called the Allen School, was founded in 1854 by Nathaniel T. Allen. The school, which enjoyed a national reputation, was backed by Horace Mann, Charles Sumner, and President of Harvard University, Thomas Hill. One of the few private coeducational schools devoted to a classical education, the Allen School was the site of the first pure kindergarten, as a department of the school, in the United States. George and James Allen, brothers of Nathaniel, taught at the school. Nathaniel sold his interest in the school in 1899 to Albert E. Bailey and Frank H. Wood.


Scope and Content:

This collection consists of one volume written by Edward while he was a boarding student at the English and Classical School in West Newton, Massachusetts from September 1873 to June 29, 1874. Writing this volume was a required part of the curriculum and was read by and commented upon by Nathaniel T. Allen. Also included in this collection are numerous newspaper clippings. Some about the Fall River School Board activities in 1894, others about the two plats of land (1: Homestead Estate of the Late Dr. Nathan Durfee, 2: Plat of land formerly owned by the late Hon. Louis Lapham) to be sold by Adams in Fall River. What follows is a description of the content of Adams hand written volume.

Fall Term: September 17, 1873 to December 23, 1873. Some of Adams’ daily entries discuss school routines; sports; extracurricular activities; subjects studied; the weather; the Waltham Watch Factory in Waltham, Massachusetts; a Japanese scholar at school; baseball clubs; a visit from an uncle living in Pawtucket and an aunt and two cousins living in Dedham; a surprise 50th birthday party for Nathaniel T. Allen; the Natural History Society and the election of officers; when his cousin Thornton enters school; lyceum topics; rowing on the Charles River; the vote on Newton becoming a city and the accompanying torchlight parade; a trip to Boston to see Edwin Booth as Hamlet; riding velocipedes (e.g.: bicycle); a visit home to Fall River after six weeks; filling in as umpire in a baseball game; chicken pox; a train wreck at the depot; Christmas shopping in Boston; the death of Professor Agassiz; a performance of Handel’s Messiah at the Music Hall; and the words of a closing hymn. The entries also feature multiple moral lessons usually given by Mr. Nathaniel T. Allen. These lessons focus on various subjects, such as homesickness, ambition, differences in ability, integrity, conscience, instinct, reputation, character, and courage. Adams also describes lectures he attended, including a history lecture by Mr. Joseph Henry and lecture in Boston by Mr. Bradlaugh of England with Charles Sumner, Wendell Phillips, W. Lloyd Garrison, and others.

Winter Term: January 7, 1874 to March 31, 1874. Daily entries discuss weather; working in his father’s bookstore over Christmas break; studying history, reading, and Shakespeare; a walk to Newton Lower Falls; attendance at singing school; a fire in Natick; winter sports; the death of Parepa Rosa; the death of Stanley Livingston; the annual show of Massachusetts Poultry Society at the Music Hall; the theft of a watch and then its return; a sermon from Longfellow, brother of poet; Colonel Richard Borden’s funeral in Fall River; a visit to Boston with a cousin to the Public Library, Mr. Allen’s on Winter Street to have pictures taken, and the Natural History Rooms; Adams recovery from mumps; the death of Charles Sumner; the escape of the son of John Brown; and a closing hymn. The moral lessons in these entries discuss music, cheerful obedience, providence (or foresight), the formation of character, proverbs, industry and economy.

Summer Term: April 8, 1874 to June 29, 1874. Entries discuss weather; illnesses; school subjects including Botany, Natural History, French, and Drawing; elected treasurer of Lyceum, organizing the Natural History Society; baseball clubs; walk to Waltham; Longfellow’s sermon on the Foundation of Life; a college review; attending dancing school; grades; a stroll to Auburndale; the death of Andrew Johnson; the Fall River School Committee and the resignation of the principal of the school, Mr. Slade; fishing; a flood at Williamsburg, Massachusetts; Memorial Day holiday; a visit to Cambridge, Professor Agassiz’s museum, Memorial Hall at Harvard, and Mt. Auburn cemetery; a festival with proceeds to go to a home for destitute children; a visit to Charlestown Navy Yard and the State Prison; Adams’ 18th birthday on June 15, 1874; a visit to Wellesley, Mr. Hunnewell’s celebrated gardens, and Mr. Baker’s farm (connected with Grover and Baker’s sewing machines); and canons of self-discipline. The moral lessons in these entries discuss long life, imagination, the art of prolonging life, lost property, wrong doings, responsibility, and the importance of education. At the end of the volume are rules for boarders (“family rules”) regarding hours, rooms, premises, personal, and other miscellaneous topics.


Provenance: Unknown.

Amount: 1 volume and 1 pamphlet binder.

See Also: Lydia Stow (mother of Edward S. Adams) journals, 1840-1843: MC 17.