Did you know that New Year’s cards were once nearly as common and popular as Christmas cards? While Christmas was at first a religious and then a family holiday, New Year’s Day was long a traditional occasion for visiting one’s friends and exchanging good wishes. It was also a purely secular holiday, celebrated and enjoyed by people of all religious persuasions. At the turn of the nineteenth to the twentieth century, holiday postcards were all the rage. They were an easy and inexpensive way to send greetings, requiring little more than a penny stamp, a scribbled address and a sentence or two—not so different from an email or a text message, except that they were hand-delivered by a postman, not sent electronically via the Internet. The Connecticut Historical Society has a large collection of historic postcards and greeting cards. Though not all of them were made in Connecticut, all of them were sent or received by people who lived in the State a century or more ago. I wonder how we will manage to collect and preserve the electronic greeting cards that so many people favor today and if it will still be possible to access them and view them a hundred years from now.
Tag Archives: New Years Day
A Diary Beginning January 1st, 1801
Shubael Bartlett must have had an inkling that his words would be preserved for future generations. Otherwise, why would he have put so much information on the title page of his diary? In addition to the title, he also added: “The day of my birth was April 2nd, 1778 AD. I entered College Sept. 13th 1796–graduated Dept. 10th 1800. Was licensed to preach at Windsor Sept 28th or 29th, 1802. Rec’d the degree of A.M. 9th Sept 1803. Married at Hartford Wednesday evening 19th of Jany 1803. Ordained to the work of the Gospel ministry 15th Feby 1804 at East Windsor.” And his notes continue. Oh, if only every diarist was so detailed about his/her life!
Shubael’s entry for January 1, 1801, captures his thoughts on the turn of the century, and for some reason, turns to the contemplation of the consequences of suicide. He wrote:
A momentous period indeed! How many thousands and millions of the present inhabitants of this earth will before another century is ended be laid in their graves? Probably not one out of ten thousand of those are are now on the face of the earth will live to see the end of the present century. “Thus rolls the tide of human “things”. . . . No one is accountable for the shortness of the time which he spends upon the stage [of life], unless he has shortened it by his own imprudence.–How will suicides appear at the great day of retribution? How will they appear when by an immediate act of violence, they have been the cause of their own deaths! Let no act of imprudence ever shorten my life or diminish my usefulness.
Shubael’s second diary from this collection begins in August 1833 and ends in February 1834. Entries in this volume are less contemplative and deal more with daily life than the earlier one. For example on February 15, 1834, he noted that he was celebrating the 30th anniversary of his being ordained a minister at East Windsor. “How great accountability of a minster of Christ!” Later in the entry he counts seven people in his family and household: “this is myself and my wife, son Charles and his wife, and son Daniel, Lorenzo our man and Julia Pease our little maid. I have a precious season of prayer with my wife this eve’g for our children. Blessed be GOD.”
The “missing” diaries of Mr. Bartlett, those between 1802 and 1833, can be found with Ms 76589; they date from 1803-1854. Together, these collections give us a nearly complete view of the life of a minister in Connecticut. The diaries described above can be seen by calling for Ms 101633.