1899 College Letters

April 10, 1899

April [10], 1899

Dear Mamma,
It is now after nine and I have only time to write a few lines before taking a bath and retiring for the night. As you doubtless have inferred I arrived safely and soundly on schedule time. Continue reading

April 16, 1899

April 16, 1899

Dear Mamma,
I do hope Kate is with you now and you are all enjoying the vacation you need so much.
My great week is now over so that I can settle down not to regular work until some other extra work comes up. Had Agora meeting last night at which we initiated Leila Eaton and at which I gave a paper on “Army Reorganization.” I had worked on it all my odd moments during the week and felt repaid for my labor when so many of the girls told me how much they liked it. Continue reading

April 20, 1899

April 20, 1899

Dear Mamma,
Did you ever hear of having such beautiful weather this time of year? Where have been our April showers? I hope that it doesn’t mean that it will rain all Commencement week. Had such a glorious time all last week. Going over to Haughton & Mifflin’s was so interesting. Saw them make books even from setting up the type to putting gold leaf on binding & gilding the leaves. Continue reading

April 23, 1899

April 23, 1899

Dear Mamma,
I was so disappointed when I heard that Kate hat left you in the lurch. You poor people! You won’t take things easy & I am afraid you will be in no condition to stand all the festivities here in June. Please do just as little as you possibly can & think of the future.
Went in and sat for my pictures again yesterday morning. Continue reading

February 12, 1899

Monday,
February, 12-1899

Dear Mamma,
Haven’t had such a good time this week as I expected to. Thought I would have time to do lots of lovely things since I had only one paper and one exam on my hands. But I had to work all the time. I never had such a time writing a paper. Continue reading

February 20, 1899

[Feb 20, 1899, postmark]

Dear Papa,
Many happy returns of the yesterday to you!! And now today I’m “of age”. I just do wish that time did not skim along so fast.
I celebrated my birthday and astonished the natives by getting down to breakfast on time this morning. Not that I’m going to turn over a new leaf and make it the rule of my life to always go down early. Oh, no. What’s the advantage? Continue reading

February 22, 1899

Feb. 22, 1899

Dear Mamma,
I don’t see why you felt disappointed about the box. It was just grand and I was by no means the only one who thought so. The cake was particularly good both cake & filling being done just right. Elsie must have been dreaming when she spoke about a hard crust. And the candies the girls couldn’t believe that they were home made. Continue reading

February 26, 1899

Feb. 26-[18]99

Dear Mamma,
Was delightfully surprised at receiving another letter from you last week. It is a good idea about inviting ILA but I just don’t know whether I will or not. I was planning to have someone visit me the 10th but was going to ask Anna. She has expressed a great desire to see Julia Marlowe* so I told her I would meet her in town & go with her to see her. Continue reading

January 10, 1899

Jan – 10 – [18] ‘99

Dear Mamma,
I suppose you will be relieved to hear that I left Hartford safely at 12:05 and am now on the way between Springfield and Worchester where I must change.
Did all my errands successfully and got through in good season. Matched my black waist* all right and got the trimmings and sent them direct to Miss Clark. My hat looks very stylish and becoming. Got one for $.50 as I expected. Went down to Miss Pierson’s to spend a little while with ILA but she was not there. Didn’t Elsie understand her to say that she was going back the first of January? But probably she received word that she needn’t come back there as business was dull. There wasn’t a soul there when I went in. Have you ever been in there? It is awfully stylish place.
Wonder how Phoebe is? I hope she is not a nuisance and that she has either managed to get home or is all well again. I understood her to say that she hadn’t a cold so it couldn’t be grippe.

Wellesley:
Arrived here in due season at 4:30 but my trunk has not got here yet. The girls seem so glad to see me back and it seems good to get here.
But wasn’t it cold this morning! I nearly froze several times but trust that I did not catch cold. I shall be very careful of myself though, so you needn’t worry. Met Miss Whitely – one of the sophomores at our table – in Worchester and so had company the rest of the way. She too was just coming back, having been detained by the grippe. Most of the 40 are back now I guess. I must go & take a bath now & then go to bed so farewell. Don’t worry – and don’t you be a cause of worry to me. Remember you promised to take things easy for a day or two, so please let things slide & rest – rest – rest. Best of love to all.

Sincerely,
Mabel

Ivy slips!

*waist – is a common 19th century term used throughout the Edwardian and Victorian period to describe the bodice of a dress, a blouse or a woman’s shirt. It was exquisitely designed and usually worn with a fairly plain long skirt.

Letters were made available courtesy of Wellesley College Archives.
Transcribed and footnotes added by Heddy Panik.

January 15, 1899

Jan. 15 – [18]‘99

Dear Mamma,
How are all you getting along now that the person who made you so much trouble is out of the way? I hope Phoebe is all right and that no one has been taken sick, so you can put in some of the rest you need so much. Continue reading

January 16, 1899

1-16-[18]99

Dear Mamma,
If you are just worrying yourself sick over my condition which is by no means serious, you had better stop it right off, or I shall not report any other of my weaknesses. Continue reading

January 18, 1899

[Jan] 18-1899

My dear Mamma,
The appearance of the eruption which I mentioned to you has solved the mystery of my disease. Dr. Bancroft said today that it was “shingles” that I had. This is as you doubtless know a skin disease closely connected with the sensory nerves. He gave me some medicine – something to apply externally and also something to take internally. Continue reading

January 20, 1899

Jan 20- [18]99

Dear Mama,
Received your letter tonight, but had rather expected one from you before. Thought you would worry so, you would write straight off to learn more particulars etc. though no more were necessary. But you can stop your worrying immediately as I am feeling much better. Continue reading

January 23, 1899

1-23-[18]99

Dear Mamma,
Were you disappointed not to get a letter from me yesterday? But I just didn’t have a minute’s time so I thought I would wait and write after seeing your letter tonight. You see I didn’t get up until almost dinner time as I was rather tired & thought I would get in a little rest when I could. Continue reading

January 29, 1899

Monday, January 29 – [18]99

Dear Mamma,
Shingles don’t bother me any more now. My skin is rather tender and my back aches if I get tired but in other respects I am all well and ready for the “next”.
I’m really going to have quite a vacation during the Midyear season. Exams begin Wednesday the first and last until Saturday the 11 – which is to be a holiday. Now I have a laboratory test in Chemistry IV the first morning and then nothing until Economics the last Friday morning! To be sure I have that Chemistry paper to make up but that won’t take all my time. So I have got lots of little old jobs planned: going to write class letter, shampoo, shine up my tea kettle, do some mending, make the front to my silk waist*, read and have a very nice time generally. It is the Season of the Grand Opera and I am crazy to go at least once. I want to go to hear “Siegfried” next Wednesday but am not sure whether I shall or not. I haven’t been to see or hear anything for over two months now and think it will be a good chance to go when I haven’t any work on hand. Mansfield is coming to play “Cyrano” next week and Julia Arthur is there now but she only plays “Lady of Quality” as matinee and I don’t care specially about that.
You know I expected to have a final paper in Chemistry 8 but we are not to have one and we don’t know what we are to have. Dr. Roberts is so original. She always has a new way of conducting a class. Now she tells us that she wants a biographical review of all the principle men concerned in Theoretical Chemistry and she wants it as an informal discussion, not as a written examination. So she has told us all to come to her room next Tuesday evening – the night before the Chemistry exam. We don’t know just what to expect but I don’t think she will question us more than an hour or so and then serve tea or something. One of the girls suggested that she might place some man’s name in our books and let us find out whom we represented. That game is lots of fun I think and I wish she would do that. I know we shall have a lovely time if we only know about all the men – and there are 75 of them or less. I have got that to study for tomorrow as well as a review in Chemistry 4 covering all the ground we have gone over this year. So Tuesday I shall have this review in Chem 4 – besides Logic, Mathematics & Economics – the biographical social in evening – laboratory exam – working with a grand unknown Wednesday morning and then a little holiday.
My black waist* has come at last – came last Tuesday – and it is very pretty but alas, it doesn’t fit at all!!! The yoke sets horribly, sleeves are too big etc. But the yoke is the worst. Collar must be taken off – shoulder seams ripped etc, & whole thing cut out. The back blouses just the way I hate to have it do. Tell me of the bill she sent you. I just must give up trying to make ivy grow in my room this winter. That was a lovely slip you sent but it died within a week. You see the sudden change in temperature is too much for them as the room is cold all night and hot all day.
Have been reading “Penelope’s Progress” & “Jungle Book” today. Alice left Sunday morning. She gave me a lovely bunch of violets as a parting gift. Goodbye – best of love to you all & don’t work too hard.

Lovingly
Mabel L. Bishop

*waist – is a common 19th century term used throughout the Edwardian and Victorian period to describe the bodice of a dress, a blouse or a woman’s shirt. It was exquisitely designed and usually worn with a fairly plain long skirt.

Letters were made available courtesy of Wellesley College Archives.
Transcribed and footnotes added by Heddy Panik.

June 1899 (from Mamma)

June 1899

Dear Home people –
It is a lovely day, or so promises to be, for the events of the day seem to call for pleasant weather. Anna and Amy are coming out at noon. Yesterday we went to hear the Baccalaureate sermon by a Dr. Richards of New Jersey. The seniors all marched and dressed in white, a pretty sight. Continue reading

June 22, 1899 (from Mamma)

June 22, 1899

My dear husband,
I am in Mabel’s room, the children have started off sight-seeing. Phil and Mildred will go to Beverly, and our children to Boston & Bunker Hill and to Somerville to lunch. It is a perfect day and everything is lovely here. Continue reading

June 26, 1899 (from Elsie)

June 26, 1899, [postmark]

Dear People –
We are having the grandest time imaginable. Something going on all the time – but you can’t think what a bother it is not to have a watch or clock. We never have the remotest idea what time it is. Continue reading

March 12, 1899

Mar. 12, 1899

Dear Mamma,
Your last letter was a particularly nice one. It was quite a surprise to find that you had invited Ila. I wrote right off of course for her to come next Sunday, that seeming a particularly good time. I have not yet heard from her. Continue reading

March 25, 1899

Mar 25, 1899

Dear Mamma,
Agatha has decided to spend her vacation in New York. So I was obliged to decline an invitation from Fannie asking us down there for a day or two. Continue reading

March 29, 1899

March 29, 1899

Dear Mamma,
Will meet you at 12:35 Thursday in waiting room at Brown Thompson’s*. We are to meet Ila at 1:15 in front of Ballenstein’s. Do not get my white dress until I see you. We are to wear caps & gowns for Commencement. Continue reading

March 5, 1899

3-5-[18]99

Dear Mamma,
You didn’t write as I asked you to advising me who to invite for next Sunday. Although I shall not write until I hear from you Monday, I think I shall send the following scheme to Anna. Continue reading

May 14, 1899

May 14, 1899

Dear Mamma,
Have just come from church where Rev. Henry Van Dyke preached a grand sermon. The chapel was filled – not only girls but loads of strangers were there to hear the famous man. Continue reading

May 21, 1899

May 21, 1899

Dear Mamma,
Did you ever see such weather? No sun for three days! Now I like a rainy day except when I want to print pictures. That’s the trouble just now. All the pictures I took Field Day have been waiting three days to be printed and I am crazy to see what they are going to look like. Continue reading

May 7, 1899

May 7, 1899

Dear Mamma,
I now send you all my proofs for you to tell which ones you would like finished up as I shall not sit again. I think the last ones are much better than the others and I am glad I went through the ordeal of sitting again. Continue reading