Handwritten and Illustrated Friendship Album

Scotland; United States: 1923-1928.

Price: $950 save 20% $760

Add to Cart

A young woman attends school and gets job training while surrounded by friends with conflicting ideas about marriage, sex, and life

(Item #5999) Handwritten and Illustrated Friendship Album. Commonplace Book, Evelyn.

Handwritten and Illustrated Friendship Album

Scotland; United States: 1923-1928. Oblong album measuring 135 x 185mm and containing 79 handwritten pages and 16 original illustrations. Presented to Evelyn by her father, the album opens with a hand-drawn bookplate and dedication; entries from friends, most from Aberdeen, are dated across five years and document Evelyn's time in school and in her early work. A research rich document, with content related to gender, sexuality, marriage, family, employment and education.

Without a surname, Evelyn will remain partially hidden by history; but the survival of her friendship album gives us insight into her personality, the friends with whom she surrounded herself, and the varying attitudes her generation and community had about what constituted a satisfying life. The opening dedication from "Dad" suggests like many similar albums that its purpose is to provide its owner with comfort "in the Autumn of my days" by prompting memories old "the old friends that I once had. The highly Victorian sentiments of the parent are humorously at odds with much of what Evelyn and her friends have to say. In an undated entry signed only "M. B." traditional gender hierarchies are thrown to the wayside: "He's a fool who think by force or skill, To stem the torrent of a woman's will, For if she will -- she will, You may depent on't. And if she won't -- she won't. So there's an end on't." Another titled "Life's Philosophy" and left unsigned has an illustration of knights at dinner, and a quippy poem about men's incompetence in the kitchen and their inability to "live without cooks" despite touting their own greatness. M. Florence Godwin contributes in 1925: "When you are married, And Hubby get cross, Pick up a rolling pin, And say 'I'm Boss.'" Others push back against such latent feminism. "Do your duty without a fuss," writes M. Black, for example. An unsigned entry plays on the idea of motherhood, wishing "May your only troubles be 'little ones.'" In 1928 C. W. B. Hunter writes "May he who feeds the little pigs And sends the horses hay, Take pity on this little miss, And send a man her way."

Entries in Evelyn's album are from friends in Aberdeen, Scotland as well as a range of U.S. east coast cities. Many reference attending school together, or being in stenography and secretarial classes. One or two mention being in clubs together. Multiple cryptic, nudging entries urge Evelyn to "remember" what happened on the last day of school, suggesting they'll never forget it either. While we have been unable to determine where Evelyn lived or why she had so many friends in these two countries, it does become clear that marriage is little on her mind except as a joke, and that her adult freedom is a priority.
(Item #5999)

Price: $950 save 20% $760

Add to Cart Inquire Add to Wish List
Handwritten and Illustrated Friendship Album
Handwritten and Illustrated Friendship Album
Handwritten and Illustrated Friendship Album
Handwritten and Illustrated Friendship Album
Handwritten and Illustrated Friendship Album
Handwritten and Illustrated Friendship Album
Handwritten and Illustrated Friendship Album