Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Annie E. L. Hobbs Journal, 1876

Finding aid created by
Rachel K. Onuf, 1998

Summary Information
Title: Annie E. L. Hobbs journal
Creator: Hobbs, Annie E. L.
Inclusive dates: 1876
Extent: 31 pages
Annie E. L. Hobbs, of Laconia, New Hampshire, wrote this journal during her trip to the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. In detailed passages, she described the various exhibit halls visited and her reactions to the sights of Philadelphia and the spectacle of the exhibition.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1996. M-3223.15.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Annie E. L. Hobbs Journal, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Annie E. L. Hobbs lived in Laconia, New Hampshire with her husband. After some deliberation, they decided to attend the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. In the company of a doctor and his wife, they traveled by train to New London, Connecticut, boarded a steamer for New York City, a ferry to Jersey City, and finally, a train to Philadelphia. They spent several days visiting the exhibits and the sights of Philadelphia before retracing their steps back to Laconia, suffering from colds and relieved to be home.

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.

Subject Terms

    • Centennial Exhibition (1876 : Philadelphia, Pa.)
    • Independence Hall (Philadelphia, Pa.)
    • Women--Diaries.
    • Women travelers.
    • Cheney, Person Colby, 1828-1901.
    • Girard College.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Annie E. L. Hobbs journal,  October 9, 1876-October 15, 1876 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Partial Subject Index
    Centennial Exhibition (1876 : Philadelphia, Pa.)
    • passim
    Cheney, Person Colby, 1828-1901
    • pp. 12-13
    Girard College
    • pp. 18-19
    Independence Hall (Philadelphia, Pa.)
    • p. 19
    Tourist trade--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia
    • passim
    • passim
    Women travelers
    • passim