Happy New Year, All!
I am re-blogging this post from Ephemeral New York–one of my favorite blogs. Having grown up near NYC, I have always had a fascination with the city’s past. In this post, one of the city’s youngest citizens comments on life in the mid-19th century at this time of year.
“Yesterday was New Year’s Day, and I had lovely presents,” wrote 10-year-old Catherine Havens in her diary, which chronicles a year in the life of a privileged city schoolgirl, on January 2, 1850.
The diary is a wonderful artifact, describing her home on Fifth Avenue and Ninth Street, her favorite candy stores on Eighth Street, and the afternoons she spends rolling hoops and playing in Washington Square.
And it also gives contemporary readers a glimpse into what New Year’s Day was like for the city’s elite 165 years ago.
At the time, the colonial Dutch tradition of receiving male callers all day was in still full swing among upper class families, with smartly dressed gentlemen making short (often inebriated) visits to the ladies of a household.
“We had 139 callers, and I have an ivory tablet and write all their names down on it,” wrote Catherine.
“We have to…
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