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Geraldine Toepp Diary

Identifier: SC 00792

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Scope and Contents

Diary, 1922-1923, of Geraldine Toepp, an 18 year old Catholic girl from an affluent family from South Bend, Indiana. Geraldine begins each entry with the weather for the day. She regularly mentions going to church and visiting with friends. Her daily activities include sewing, shopping, reading, swimming, writing letters, attending movies, listening to records, and playing cards and other games. Geraldine spends most of her days and nights socializing.

During the spring of 1922, Geraldine mentions feeling sick, suffering from headaches, stomach pains, and weight loss. She describes her stay at a local hospital, where she received X-rays, blood tests, and other metabolic tests. Her doctor diagnosed her as anemic, prescribing medicine "tablets," a cup of milk three times a day, exercise, and more time outdoors. Thereafter, Geraldine seems to recover, attending a junior prom and a senior ball. Later, Geraldine starts taking iodine.

During the summer of 1922, Geraldine travels to Le Mars, Iowa, where she spends much of her time swimming, writing letters, attending movies, visiting local parks, and meeting with friends. After Geraldine returns home in the fall, she begins having relationship problems with her boyfriend, Worth ("W"). In the meantime, she travels throughout the area, taking trips to Mishawaka, Terre Haute, and Chicago. She also mentions attending events at Notre Dame.

In 1923, Geraldine continues to spend most of her time socializing with her friends and family. She increasingly spends time at the movies, attending shows on almost a daily basis. Geraldine also continues to stay in touch with her friends by regularly exchanging letters. Every few months, she seems to have a new love interest.

Throughout the year, Geraldine provides updates on her brother, Burton. In late January, Burton gets sick, requiring hospitalization. He requires a doctor to "lance" an abscess in his ear. Later, in July, Burton visits the hospital again to have his tonsils removed.

Geraldine also mentions that she herself had to take a number of trips to the dentist that year. In April, she has 4 teeth pulled, requiring some form of gas for anesthesia. After the operation, she gets iodine rubbed on her gums to help her with the pain.

In the late summer of 1923, the Toepp family takes a road trip across the Northeast. They travel to Cleveland, Buffalo, Oneida, and finally, New York City. Along the way, the family stops at Niagara Falls, spending time on the Canadian side. In New York, Geraldine twice mentions that she gets some candy called "nigger babies." After visiting New York City, the family returns home by way of Detroit, taking a ferry. After returning home, Geraldine writes how "a nigger shot + killed a policeman."

At the end of the diary, Geraldine lists all the presents she received for Christmas in both 1922 and 1923. The diary also includes a number of newspaper clippings, some of which provide updates on the family's travels. One loose-leaf sheet of paper includes Geraldine's handwritten lyrics to the song, "Who's Sorry Now?"


  • Creation: 1922-1923


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.


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Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased in January 2012

Guide to the Geraldine Toepp Diary
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Research Center Repository