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Guide to the Jacob P. Russel Diary

MSN/EA 8003-01-B


Collection Summary

Title: Jacob P. Russel diary
Dates: 1857-1859
Collection No.: MSN/EA 8003-1-B
Creator: Russel, Jacob P. (Jacob Pyle), b. 1836
Extent: 1 volume
Language: Collection material in English
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: A manuscript diary kept by a young Philadelphia drug store worker named Jacob Russel, from October 1857 to February 1859.

Selected Search Terms

Philadelphia (Pa.) -- History -- Sources
Philadelphia (Pa.) -- Social life and customs -- 19th century

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Preferred Citation: Jacob P. Russel Diary, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The Russel diary was purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries in 2005, from Michael Brown Rare Books of Philadelphia (cat. 38, item 48). Finding aid 2009, by George Rugg.

Biographical Note

Jacob Pyle Russel was born on 29 October 1836, the son of Alexander and Hannah Pyle Russel of West Chester, Chester County, Pennsylvania. An initial entry in the diary, dated 30 October 1857, provides an account of his life to that time: "I was born in West Chester . . . just after the return of my parents from the western part of the state of Ohio. They moved after a short time to Delewar County Thornbury township than my father followed his trade as Blacksmith for 11 years he then sold, and bought a farm in vincent Township Chester County which was the first of April 1847 we remained thare for three years when farther selling again, he bought a small farm in Wellestown Township in same County. he move to it March 30th 1850 we remained thare untill April 1st 1852 when move on to John Morris farm at Phoenixville, whare I staid untill Oct 1th 1853, when my farther put me apprentice to Joseph Maples Stone Cutter Broad & Arch St Philadelphia I remained with him some months when I left for bad treatment at his hands the first Day of January 1854 I went to same buisness but another branch. to John Young 11th Race St but the buisness being too hard for me I left it 28th March same year and went to Drug Buisness with W. W. D. Livermore cor 9th Vine and a more perfect Gentleman it has never been my lot to meet neather do I expect to. unfortunately he was Drowned 19th day of July 1854 The store then passed into the hands of his borther Origen H. Livermore and a more contemtable puppy dose not breath I was in his employ for 2 1/2 years when we had a fall out and parted. But in the mean time my farther moved to Ohio at a place called Salem whare he now is. After I Left Livermore I went out home and staid a month I then returned and went into the employ of G. C. Bower 6th & Vine I staid with him untill April the first 1857 I then under his recomendation went into the employ of Waring & Peirce Richmond Va. I remained thare two months when I left in profound disgust and returned to Philadelphia and obtained employment under the recomendation of my old friend G. C. Bower in the store of G. Y. Shoemaker 509 north second st at which place I now am . . . ." By 1861 Russel had established an apothecary business of his own, at 5th and Shippen Streets, Philadelphia. In July 1862 he maried Anna Emery, mentioned frequently in the diary.

Scope and Content Note

The diary is a single bound volume (18 cm.) of 190 leaves, with 233 pages of entries in Russel's hand, and 29 newspaper clippings tipped or laid in. It contains regular daily entries running from 29 October 1857 (Russel's 21st birthday) to 7 February 1859. Entries range from fewer than 20 to more than 100 words; the most typical are 40 or 50 words. The diary is first and foremost a chronicle of Russel's leisure activities and social life; among the most frequently mentioned are churchgoing, attending lectures and other public events, visiting (and carousing) with friends, and courting his future wife, Anna Emery. Nor is the diary without its confessional aspects, especially with regard to Russel's sexual activities. There is less content relating to Russel's work life, and only occasionally does he comment on events in the world at large. Russel enjoyed (and wrote) verse, and clippings of popular verse from Philadelphia newspapers are pasted into the diary.

Container List

  • Diary. Jacob P. Russel, 1857 to 1859. (MSN/EA 8003-01-B).