University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Guide to the Anna Quincy Thaxter Cushing Diary

MSN/EA 8019


Collection Summary

Title: Anna Quincy Thaxter Cushing diary
Dates: 1858-1861
Collection No.: MSN/EA 8019
Creator: Cushing, Anna Quincy Thaxter, 1825-1900
Extent: 1 volume; 1.5 linear inches
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 diary maintained by Anna Quincy Thaxter Cushing (1825-1900) of Dorchester, Massachusetts, with daily entries running from March 1858 to August 1861. The entries describe Cushing's personal, family, and social life in considerable detail.

Selected Search Terms

Women -- Massachusetts -- Boston -- Diaries
Women -- United States -- History -- 19th century
Boston (Mass.) -- Social life and customs -- 19th century -- Sources
Elite (Social sciences) -- Massachusetts -- Boston -- History -- 19th century.

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection

Preferred Citation: Anna Quincy Thaxter Cushing Diary, MSN/EA 8019-1-B, Rare Books and Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: The diary was purchased by the Hesburgh Libraries in March 2017, from Michael Brown Rare Books of Philadelphia. Arranged and described 2017, by George Rugg. Finding aid 2017, by George Rugg.

Biographical Note

Anna Quincy Thaxter was born on 24 October 1825 in Hingham, Plymouth County, Massachusetts, the oldest child of Edward Thaxter and his second wife, Susan Joy Thaxter. The Thaxters were one of Hingham's prominent mercantile families. Anna was educated in Hingham and in Cambridge, and in 1848 married her cousin, Dr. Benjamin Cushing of Hingham (1822-1895), a recent graduate of Harvard Medical School. The couple settled in Dorchester, south of Boston. Four children were born there: Mary (b. 1848); Edward (b. 1851); Annie (b. 1857); and Susan (b. 1863). Anna Cushing died in Dorchester, on 13 March 1900.

Scope and Content Note

The Cushing diary contains regular daily entries ranging from 7 March 1858 to 10 August 1861. It is volume 19 of a long sequence of personal diaries kept by Anna, extending back to 1844 and forward to at least 1884. Thirty-two of these volumes are now in the American Antiquarian Society (Anna Quincy Thaxter Cushing Papers, 1816-1923). Daily entries typically run from 50 to 300 words; the entire volume runs to more than 100,000 words. Cushing was an articulate and sympathetic commentater on her immediate world, and her diary is first and foremost a resume of personal experience. There is a great deal on child rearing and education; the maintenance of the home and relations with (Irish) servants; social life with friends and family in Dorchester, Hingham, and further afield; reading, singing, music, and other leisure activities; church life (Anna was extrememly active in the First Church (Unitarian) in Dorchester); and numerous charitable activities. Many members of First Church, under Rev. Nathaniel Hall, were sympathetic to abolition, and Anna was no exception. The latter parts of the diary contain occasional commentary on the dissolution of the Union and the early days of the Civl War.

Arrangement Note

The collection consists of one volume.

Related Material

The Anna Quincy Thaxter Cushing Papers at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts contain 32 volumes of diary entries by Cushing, ranging in date from 1844 to 1884.

Container List

  • Anna Quincy Thaxter Cushing. Diary, 1858 March 7-1861 August 10. Item 1 (MSN/EA 8019-1-B).
    1 volume, 26 cm., 185 leaves, with 367 pages of entries in Cushing's hand. Contained in a volume of the daily calendar type, entitled The Daily Journal for 1858, published by Francis & Loutrel, New York. With original binding, 1/2 leather with marbled boards and publisher's label.