R. J. Arnold diary  1856
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The R. J. Arnold diary (145 pages) chronicles a trip taken by Mrs. Arnold, her husband, her father, and a friend through northern New York to Canada, Michigan, and Illinois in the summer of 1856. The party embarked for their western journey on May 21, and proceeded to Niagara Falls, stopping several times along the way and often visiting with family or friends in the area. The group enjoyed seeing Niagara Falls, which Mrs. Arnold described in detail (pp. 17-22), and spent many of their leisurely days honoring social engagements, when not in transit. Eventually, the vacationing party wound their way through the "Queen's dominions" to Detroit and, later, Chicago, where the diarist registered her surprise after seeing women performing manual labor: "I saw a woman riding a horse, for a man to plow out even. It is quite common to see the lower class of women in the field a hoeing in this country" (p. 50). After moving southward from Chicago, the group began a return trip to the east coast, visiting many of the same locales that colored their earlier travels, and spending time in Buffalo near the home of former president Millard Fillmore. The account of this trip concludes with Arnold's return home, but she resumed her writing during a trip to Bridgeport and Stratford, Connecticut, later in the summer and into the fall. Additionally, the diary contains four recipes (pp. 134-137) and travel-related notes, including several addresses of acquaintances acquired along her journey. The diary paints a clear picture of western travel in the antebellum North.

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