Edmund Davis diary (1865)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Richard C. Bates, May 2007, and Meg Hixon, February 2012
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Edmund Davis diary
Creator: Davis, Edmund, 1848-
Inclusive dates: 1865
Extent: 1 volume
This pocket diary contains daily entries that Edmund Davis wrote while attending Edge Hill School in Princeton, New Jersey, in the spring of 1865. David noted daily occurrences at the institution, such as religious services and baseball games, and also recorded major political events, including the capture of Richmond, Virginia, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
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: www.clements.umich.edu

Access and Use

Acquisition Information

2004. M-4353.1.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation

Edmund Davis Diary, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Edmund Davis was born in Limestone Township, Pennsylvania, on November 28, 1848, and attended Edge Hill School in Princeton, New Jersey, in the mid-1860s. He entered the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in the fall of 1866, where he played baseball. After graduating from the College of New Jersey in 1870, Davis studied law under John McCleery in Milton, Pennsylvania. In 1873, he briefly practiced in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, before returning to Milton, where he lived for the remainder of his life. In Milton, he served as a justice of the peace and later worked in the hardware business and as treasurer of the Milton Trust and Safe Deposit Company. He married Amanda A. Stewart of New Castle, Pennsylvania, on November 29, 1876, and they had one son, Robert Stewart (b. 1877). Davis married his second wife, Susan Barnitz, on May 15, 1895; they had two sons: Merlin and Hubert.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This pocket diary contains 54 pages of daily entries that Edmund Davis wrote while attending Edge Hill School in Princeton, New Jersey, from March 6, 1865, to June 12, 1865. He noted daily events at the school, such as classes, sporting matches, illnesses, and religious services, and also reported local responses to recent news, including a "horn spree" celebrating the capture of Richmond, Virginia (April 3 and April 4) and the reaction to Lincoln's assassination. He correctly identified John Wilkes Booth as the assassin who leapt from the presidential box shouting "sic semper tyrannis," but incorrectly stated that Booth had been "torn to pieces by the mob" and that William Henry Seward had been stabbed to death (April 15). On April 19, Edge Hill was draped in black to mourn the president, and on April 28, the students were informed of Booth's capture.

Davis mentioned many aspects of school life, such as expulsions (March 20 and May 24), April Fool's tricks (April 1), and the prevalence of "the itch" in early May. On May 12, he mentioned his decision to wait an additional year before attending college. He and his classmates enjoyed sports, and Davis took note of rugby matches (April 25) and baseball games (May 13, May 23, June 3, June 5, and June 7); Davis participated in his first game on June 5. A picture of Edmund Davis is pasted onto the diary's first page. The volume also contains 3 newspaper clippings: a copy of "Auld Lang Syne," a remedy for bruises, and an article detailing the "Fates of the Apostles."

Subject Terms

  • Baseball--United States--History--19th century.
  • Boarding schools--United States.
  • Booth, John Wilkes, 1838-1865.
  • Diseases.
  • Edge Hill School (Princeton, N.J.)
  • High school students--United States.
  • Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865--Assassination.
  • New Jersey--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • Princeton (N.J.)
Subjects - Visual Materials:
  • Davis, Edmund, 1848-.
Genre Terms:
  • Clippings (information artifacts)
  • Diaries.

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
Volume   1  
Edmund Davis diary,  March 6, 1865-June 12, 1865 [series]

Additional Descriptive Data


Murdock, William G. "The First College Pitcher of Curves." Outing: Sport: Adventure: Travel: Fiction. Volume 64. New York: Outing Publishing Company, 1914.

Twenty Years After. Class of '70, Princeton College. Record of Members. No. 3. 1870-1890. Philadelphia: Sherman & Co., Printers, 1891.