I like to tell people that I read other people’s diaries for a living. Today our cataloging project led me to the diary of Eleanor R. Munroe. Quickly glancing over the diary, I have not been able to find that Ms. Munroe had any connection to Connecticut. Her first entries are from the Cambridge, Massachusetts area and later entries are from Brooklyn, New York. Regardless, Munroe’s diary offers us a glimpse into the life of a young lady in the late 1890s.
The early pages of the diary include typical entries about attending school, being walked home by young men, and ice skating. Toward the end of volume we find that Ms. Munroe was very particular about the men whose company she kept.
Few men met her standards. They were all rated on a scale of 1 to 10 for looks, manners, dress, truth, tact, flirtatiousness, morals, nerve, will, and sense of humor. A passing grade was 75. None of the suitors had a perfect 100. At some other time, Munroe adjusted some of her criteria. Three men are rated on the next page for looks, morals, manners, will, unselfishness, pluck, humor, tact, style, and livableness. Sadly, they fared no better than the others. One received a 67 and the other two each received 71.
The final pages of the diary tell of a girls club of which Munroe was a member. She lists the original members of ΑΒΦ, “a club of girls in the city of Brooklyn.” The club was started in January 1898. The girls received their pins in February and had their first dance in April. A photograph of eight young ladies, most likely the club members, is attached to the title page.
Also on the title page is an instruction that the journal is private and “Anyone who looks in I shall consider very dishonorable.”