Caroline Crane Marsh diaries available

In thinking about the Alphabetical Diaries, I ended up exploring two other notable diaries. One is by Julia Wilbur, and is featured on my simulacrum of the Alphabetical Diaries. The other diary is by Caroline Crane Marsh (CCM), the American ambassadress (wife of the American ambassador) in Italy, for the period 1861-1865. I was so taken with CCM’s diaries that I decided to make an HTML version of the diaries that makes them a bit easier to read. I’ve also added a few different ways to browse and search the diaries, making use of the additional markup structure that I added to the diaries.

Why was I so taken with CCM’s diaries? First, there is CCM herself. As I say on the home page of the diaries:

Carolyn Crane Marsh (1816-1901) was a writer, poet, translator, editor, and with her husband George Perkins Marsh, an early environmentalist. She was also a diarist over many years. The diaries here are from June 1861 to February 1865, the beginning her long role as ambassadress (wife of the American ambassador) in the new Kingdom of Italy. This was an important time in the histories of both the United States and Italy, and her diaries mention many events and personalities of the time. She also writes about her personal life and comments on various aspects of life and culture in Italy. 

CCM’s diaries

On a more personal level, Lee and I also moved to Italy at one point and experienced life there as outsiders (though not at the same social level as CCM…). CCM fumbles, finds aspects of life interesting, or confusing, or amusing. And then there’s her use of language. CCM already spoke German (she translated German poetry) and French, and she learns Italian. She interacts with speakers of all of those languages and quotes them in their language. Not only that, she also will use certain words or phrases from those languages in the middle of her English language description, which is something that Lee and I do. Here’s a particularly striking example with both Italian (reposo = rest) and French (déjeûner à la fourchette = substantial lunch, usually with meat):

“Our reposo was at the village of Simplon where we took a sort of déjeûner à la fourchette in company with the two young men just mentioned and five other English men & women.”

CCM, September 3, 1862 (alternate link to the entry)

Finally, as my friend Elena put it,

con le tue letture viaggi anche nel tempo oltre che nello spazio = “with your reading [of the diaries] you travel in both time and space”

A fun bonus!

In the introduction to diaries, I promised more tidbits from the diaries, so here’s one: CCM and her husband George were not huge fans of President Abraham Lincoln, even though Lincoln had appointed George as ambassador and the Marshes were Abolitionists. Here’s one example:

the pitiful Lincoln and his cabinet of dwarfs and traitors

CCM, September 16, 1862 (alternate link to the entry)

Here’s a link to search for “Lincoln” so you can see what else she has to say…

There’s lots more tidbits to come, so stay tuned!