University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Guide to the Walter South Illustrated Cycling Journals

MSSP 7000


Collection Summary

Title: Walter South illustrated cycling journals
Dates: 1894-1904
Collection No.: MSSP 7000
Creator: South, Walter, 1863-1933
Extent: 3 volumes; .5 linear ft.
Language: Collection material in English
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: Three oversized and densely illustrated journals compiled by a Philadelphia bookkeeper named Walter South, recording twenty bicycle trips or vacations around the American Northeast undertaken over a period of ten years, 1894 to 1904.

Selected Search Terms

Cycling -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
Travel -- United States -- History -- 19th century
Scrapbooks -- United States

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection

Preferred Citation: Walter South Illustrated Cycling Journals, [item no.], Rare Books and Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The Walter South journals were purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2011, from Ian Brabner of Wilmington, Delaware.

Biographical Note

Walter South was born on 3 February 1863 in Wilmington, Delaware, the son of the Orthodox Quakers Ephraim and Hannah Burton South. He was raised in Plainfield, New Jersey, and attended the Westtown Boarding School in West Chester, Pennsylvania. By 1882 he was working in trade in Philadelphia, the city in which he would live for the remainder of his life. The 1900 Federal census identifies South as a bookkeeper, while those for 1910 and 1920 identify him as a buyer for a firm selling agricultural tools. In October 1888 South married Maria Pennock, with whom he had two daughters.

Of direct relevance to the present journals is South's passion for cycling. He first rode a bicycle in 1880—making him something of a pioneer—and in 1882 purchased a high wheel "Royal Challenge" of English make. By the 1890s smaller front wheels, pneumatic tires, chain drives, and improved roads had made riding more appealing, and South was an energetic participant in the resulting "bicycle craze". During the decade he typically cycled more than 1000 miles annually, often on extended vacation tours with friends or family. These cycling tours and more conventional travels, dating from 1894 to 1904, are the subject of the journals. South died in Philadelphia on 24 July 1933.

Scope and Content Note

By the late 19th century recreational travel, in the form of outings or more extended vacations, had became feasible for a good portion of American society. Some vacationers recorded the particulars of their trips in journals dedicated to the purpose; a few enhanced their prose with pasted ("tipped-in") illustrations. South's three folio-size volumes—a fourth, originally volume 1, is lacking—provide an exhaustive textual and pictorial account of twenty bicycle trips or vacations undertaken over a period of ten years, from 1894 to 1904. South often travelled to his cycling destinations by rail or steamship, so his trips were quite wide-ranging, extending from New England to Virginia. The text, entered in a neat, clear hand, is equal parts athletic journal and travelogue. Integrated with this writing are many hundreds of illustrations with a bearing on South's travels. These are, in the main, halftone photographs clipped from collected publications, but there are also original photographic prints (including at least three of South), maps, brochures, and assorted ephemera. The books are crafted with such obvious care that South's statement of purpose (vol. 2, 2r) seems something less than candid: "This Book contains the simple narrative of a few Bicycle Tours, illustrated with such pictures and information as the author, had at his disposal. The object in view, is simply to keep a record, written in an interesting manner, so as to recall the pleasures experienced on each occasion, the places visited and the number of miles ridden."

Arrangement Note

Volumes are arranged by date.

Container List

  • Walter South. Illustrated cycling journal, vol. 1, 1894-1899. Item 1 (MSSP-7000-1-B).
    1 volume, 40 cm., 112 leaves, with 223 pages of journal entries, tipped-in illustrations, and ephemera.
    Titled "Vol II Bicycle Records" on 1r. Volume contains materials on eleven individual cycling tours, as follows: 1) the Berkshires, Lake George, and the Hudson River (1894); 2) along Wissahickon Creek, Pennsylvania (1894); 3) Washington DC, the Shenandoah Valley, and Gettysburg (1895); 4) Media, Pennsylvania (1896); 5) Plainfield, New Jersey (1896); 6) Washington and Atlantic City (1897); 7) Asbury Park, New Jersey, and New York (1897); 8) Coatesville and Valley Forge, Pennsylvania (1898); 9) up the Delaware River (1898); 10) Princeton, New Jersey (1899); 11) up the Delaware River (1899).
    • Walter South. Illustrated cycling journal, vol. 2, 1901-1902. Item 2 (MSSP-7000-2-B).
      1 volume, 40 cm., 92 leaves, with 182 pages of journal entries, tipped-in illustrations, and ephemera.
      Titled "Vol III Vacation Records" on 1r. Volume contains materials on six individual cycling tours, as follows: 1) the Pan-American Exposition and Niagara Falls (1901); 2) the upper Delaware (1901); 3) Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey (1902); 4) the Poconos (1902); 5) West Chester, Pennsylvania (1902); 6) Bridgeport and Waterbury, Connecticut (1902). 48v to 51r contain a chronology of South's cycling activities, 1880-1902; miles cycled each day in 1897; and fourteen of South's League of American Wheelmen annual membership cards,
      • Walter South. Illustrated journal, vol. 3, 1903-1904. Item 3 (MSSP-7000-3-B).
        1 volume, 40 cm., 67 leaves, with 88 pages of journal entries, tipped-in illustrations, and postcards.
        Untitled. Volume contains materials on three vacation trips, as follows: 1) northern New Jersey and the Poconos (1903); to Baltimore via the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal (1903); 3) to Syracuse, New York by rail (1904). Little cycling content. The vacation accounts are followed by many pages of miscellaneous postcards.