William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Charles Everett Adams Diaries, 1874-1940

Finding aid created by
Richard Bates and Cheney J. Schopieray, 2006

Summary Information
Title: Charles Everett Adams diaries
Creator: Adams, Charles Everett, b. 1863
Inclusive dates: 1874-1940
Extent: 39 items (2.25 linear feet)
The Adams collection consists of 25 diaries kept by Charles Everett Adams, M.D., describing his life from age 11 to age 77. The diaries provide details about his family, education, employment, interests, and activities, including medical school, gymnastics, forestry, and the impact of the automobile, phonograph, and radio on family life in the 1920s.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William Clements Library, University of Michigan

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1988. M-2402.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Charles Everett Adams Diaries, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor


Charles Everett Adams was born in Bangor, Maine, on September 3, 1863. His father, James Adams (d. 1907), was in the mercantile business with an uncle, Sprague Adams, and had interest in land and lumber. James Adams became president of the local Kenduskeog Bank. Charles had at least two siblings, Edward R. (1860-1915) and Madeline "Maddie" (b. August 6, 1873). The family spent many summer months at a home on an island in Maine.

Charles Adams attended Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, from 1880 to 1886, where he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon. His courses at Bowdoin included French, Italian, German, zoology, physics, chemistry, and rhetoric. In addition, he played the flute and read books of all kinds.

After obtaining his Master's degree, he helped out at the family office until a Bowdoin classmate found him a job teaching young girls gymnastics in Worcester, Massachusetts. He earned an M.D. degree from the Medical School of Maine (now defunct) in Brunswick in 1888, though he never practiced as a physician. His primary focus was on athletics of all kinds, including gymnastics, tennis, rowing, handball, canoeing, baseball, boxing, bicycling, running, hiking, and fencing. He was considered for the post of Gymnastics Director at the University of Michigan but funding was not available.

In 1891, Adams took a position as a gymnastics teacher at Rutgers, where he became increasingly unhappy with the small attendance in his voluntary classes and with a begrudging administration. In 1894, he could not teach for a semester, because a new gymnasium was being constructed. During this time, he took swimming classes in New York City.

In 1896, he persuaded the university President to hire one of his Bowdoin classmates to teach his classes, while he spent time from January to August in Europe.

He took a second trip to Europe in 1896 to attend the revival of the Olympic games in Greece, ending with a jaunt in the Black Forest of Germany. During this trip, he became interested in European forestry methods. In 1897, Charles gave up teaching gymnastics at Rutgers and returned to his home in Bangor to live with his parents and to practice forestry. He got married on August 10, 1904, at age 40, to Carrie Dyer, one of his private fencing students in Bangor. For the remainder of his life, he purchased and sold forest land and wood products, was a director of the local bank, and managed the family's enterprises. He became wealthy and was a contributor to many causes, including his alma mater.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of 25 diaries (5500 pages) written by Charles Everett Adams between 1874 and 1940. They provide a highly descriptive account of his life from age 11 to age 77, with the exception of the missing diaries of his 13 trips to Europe. The diary entries record Adam's daily activities invariably starting with a report of the weather and including his exercise; what he read, bought, and sold; people encountered; and deaths in his home town. At times he compulsively kept track of the ambient temperatures, sometimes three times a day, and of the books he read and the number of pages for each.

Of particular interest is the impact of the automobile, phonograph and radio upon Adam's life. His first automobile trip was in 1907, which he found wearing and dizzying. In 1912 he bought his own car, and by 1920 he owned two cars and his wife Carrie learned how to drive. In 1923 a phonograph entered the Adams' household and became a regular part of their evening activities until it was replaced with a radio.

The nine notebooks contain school notes, quotations, gymnastics routines, and a register of guests at summer camp. The collection also contains a report of the 50th reunion of his Bowdoin class of 1884, which graduated 25 out of a freshman class of 44. The report contains biographies of the entire class of 1884.

Subject Terms

    • Bowdoin College.
    • Bowdoin College. Medical School.
    • Gymnastics--Study and teaching.
    Genre Terms:
    • Diaries.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Charles Everett Adams diaries,  1874-1940 [series]
    Volume   1  
    Diary,  1874 January 1-1886 May 12
    Volume   2  
    Diary,  1886 May 13-1886 November 3
    Volume   3  
    Diary,  1886 November 15-1887 February 22
    Volume   4  
    Diary,  1887 March 23-1887 July 31
    Volume   5  
    Diary,  1888 September 7-1889 October 04
    Volume   6  
    Diary,  1889 October 5-1890 October 12
    Volume   7  
    Diary,  1891 January 9-1892 March 27
    Volume   8  
    Diary,  1892 March 28-1894 April 8
    Volume   9  
    Diary,  1894 April 9-1895 March 13
    Volume   10  
    Diary,  1895 March 14-1896 October 31
    Volume   11  
    Diary,  1897 December 12-1900 May 29
    Volume   12  
    Diary,  1900 May 30-1901 July 17
    Volume   13  
    Diary,  1901 July 18-1904 March 25
    Volume   14  
    Diary,  1904 March 26-1905 November 25
    Volume   15  
    Diary,  1905 November 26-1907 March 18
    Volume   16  
    Diary,  1907 March 19-1908 November 10
    Volume   17  
    Diary,  1908 November 14-1910 May 15
    Volume   18  
    Diary,  1910 May 16-1913 February 6
    Volume   19  
    Diary,  1913 February 7-1915 December 10
    Volume   20  
    Diary,  1915 December 12-1918 August 31
    Volume   21  
    Diary,  1918 September 1-1922 January 31
    Volume   22  
    Diary,  1922 February 1-1925 December 31
    Volume   23  
    Diary,  1926 January 1-1931 January 6
    Volume   24  
    Diary,  1931 January 7-1935 November 27
    Volume   25  
    Diary,  1935 November 28-1940 August 15
    Additional Material [series]
    Volume   26  
    Edward R. Adams, high school notes,  1878
    Volume   27  
    Charles E. Adams, notes on a summer course in physical education,  1887
    Volume   28  
    Charles E. Adams, book of quotations,  1888
    Volume   29  
    Medical practice office ledger,  1888
    Volume   30  
    Charles E. Adams, notes on an obstetrics course,  1889
    Volume   31  
    Charles E. Adams, book of quotations,  1893
    Volume   32  
    Charles E. Adams, routines for performing gymnastic exercises,  1894
    Volume   33  
    Charles E. Adams, book of quotations,  1911
    Volume   34  
    Register of guests at summer camp,  1916
    Volume   35  
    Printed pamphlet, biographies of the 44 men who entered Bowdoin College in the graduating class of  1884 50 years later
    Volume   36  
    Envelope of Misc material
    Yale Gymnasium Prescription of Exercise,  1894
    Third Annual Report of the Department of Physical Education, University of Wisconsin,  1897
    Photograph of the Rutgers Gymnastics Team,  1899
    Bangor High School Graduation Program,  1914