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Mary Frances Bean Stewart Diary

Identifier: SC 00783

  • Staff Only

Scope and Contents

Travel diary of Mary Frances Bean Stewart, recording a car trip she took with her husband Robert Stewart from Contra Costa, California to Nashville, Tennessee from June to August, 1953. Returning via Chicago, Illinois and Park Rapids, Michigan, the Stewarts crossed a total of 17 states, visiting relatives, sites and shopping for antiques. Includes list of antiques purchased on the trip and recipes collected in the southern states.

The following description was provided by the seller:

"Original, handwritten diary of Mary Frances (Bean) Stewart. 1953 automobile trip from northern California with travel through southwestern and southern states, to Nashville, Tennessee. Return by way of Indianapolis, Chicago, Park Rapids, Minnesota and other northern locales. June 15 through August 26, 1953. 72 pages with 12 additional pages of notes. 6 x 8 inches. Binding fine. Handwriting clear and readable. No staining or wear.

"In this well-written and enjoyable diary (the Stewarts were college professors and professional authors) Mary Frances and her husband Robert start out by car from their home in "Shore Acres", Contra Costa County, California to visit family and friends in Benton, Arkansas, Nashville, Tennessee, Indianapolis, Indiana, Chicago, Illinois and Park Rapids, Minnesota.

"In their trip they travel through 17 states and put 3825 miles on their odometer. Moving along at not too fast a pace in the heat of the summer, they drive what seems like the less traveled highways, staying in motels, eating at roadside restaurants and indulging in their hobby of antiquing in the small antique stores and junk shops they come across. Mary Frances comments on the characters they encounter, their roadside accomodations and the antique finds they make.

"When they are in Charleston, Arkansas, Mary Frances writes: "Bob had the car gassed. One stop this a.m. at a Skelley station where we got a really fine map and the sweet man insisted I have a drink of ice water from a real clean --ain't been used oncet-- paper cup." Her next entry, June 23, is from an Arkansas motel: "Clock ticked all night. Water dripped. Fan whirred. Heat poured in."

"Arriving in Tennessee during what must have been a hot summer, she notes: "The country became flat. Into Memphis for the 5 o'clock rat race. Never, never felt so sticky. Being dipped in molasses couldn't make it worse."

"While returning to California, Mary Frances and Robert spend more time visiting antique stores. They particularly look for glass items. Near Beardstown. Illinois (July 22) she writes: "He directed us to Miss Glass Rushville, 'the last of de line.'" An old home, not on highway but out (on) Laffettee Street. Miss Glass lacked force but we got some glass stoppers & cookie cutters for 15 cents each. Ironstone platter and vegetable dish, and in desperation, over no Haviland, a $5.75 ironstone soap dish in perfect condition. Total $10 to Miss G."

"The Stewarts make more antique stops, one near Missoula, Montana: "Lady told us about Mrs. Paul Phillips, 419 Lord Street, who sells antiques so after a nap went there. Mrs. P is interested intellectually in antiques and I had a marvelous time with her ... bought a cup and platter $6.75."

"At the end of the diary Mary Frances makes a list of the antiques they purchased on the trip. She also has eight pages of recipes collected from friends in the south, including one for "Black John" which requires New Orleans molasses.

"The Stewarts were the authors of "Adolph Sutro, A Biography" published in 1962. Sutro was a Nevada financial pioneer who went on to become mayor of San Francisco and America's leading collector of early printed books (mostly destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.)."


  • 1953


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.

Conditions Governing Use

Before publishing quotations or excerpts from any materials, permission must be obtained from the Curator of Manuscripts and Rare Books, and the holder of the copyright, if not Swem Library.


0.01 Linear Foot



Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased in February 2009 (2009.058)

Guide to the Mary Frances Bean Stewart Diary
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository