Annie E. L. Hobbs journal  1876
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Collection Scope and Content Note

Aware that she would be taking part in an historic event, Annie Hobbs decided to keep a record of her trip to the Centennial Exhibition, and she filled 31 pages with her account, which she titled, "Wayside notes to the Centennial." Although her description of the contents of Hall after Hall is slightly repetitive, Annie is often specific -- and humorous -- about what she is seeing. In the Women's Pavilion, for instance, she saw Martha Washington's slippers, feather flowers, and "a novelty -- in the form of a woman's face made of Butter -- we have often heard of Dough faces but never before of a Butter face" (p. 6). In addition to providing detailed information about the exhibits, this account also shows a woman from the country's reactions to the big city and the exciting spectacle of the exhibition.

From the moment she arrived, Annie was happy she had come: "As I gazed at the various Buildings on the outside -- before seeing their interior, I felt that this view alone would pay for the trip, so colossal in their proportions -- so beautiful in their design and finish that one can only behold and admire" (pp. 4-5). Attending the exhibition also reinforced her patriotic sentiments. Even after appreciating the foreign exhibits, she would reiterate how magnificent "our own" had been and how proud she was of her country's achievements. Touring Independence Hall also fired up her enthusiasm: "While visiting these interesting, time worn relics, a feeling of awe and reverence came over us -- They seemed sacred inasmuch as they had been owned and handled by those great and good men" (p. 19). Annie was also impressed that even in the throngs of people, a "uniform politeness and courtesy had seemed to be possessed both by visitors and officers and servants in the various departments" (p. 28).

Annie did have some predictable complaints, shared by tourists of all eras. Sore feet, fatigue, and overpriced souvenirs all annoyed her, but did not interfere unduly with her enjoyment of the exhibition. Having to rely on restaurants for food was another obstacle, and Annie retained her sense of humor while recording all of the terrible food they ate, including watery oyster stew and bad pickles. She was also saddened by the news that their church back home had burned during their absence. By the time her party boarded the train for home, she was suffering from a severe cold, and was glad to finally arrive there two days later.

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