Scope and Contents
Diaries, scrapbooks, and letters, circa 1905-1919, of Ruth Thompson of Indianapolis, Indiana. Includes scrapbooks and diaries of Thompson's time at the Bradford Academy, a women's boarding school in Haverhill, Massachusetts. There are also diaries from after Thompson's graduation, when she returned to Indianapolis. These include entries about World War I, including newspaper clippings of people from her area who were drafted. Finally, there are letters written to Thompson by various people.
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Ruth Elizabeth Thompson was born on August 4, 1891. Her parents were Evert M. Thompson and Elizabeth Hubbard Thompson, who by 1905 were residing in Indianapolis, Indiana. Mr. Thompson was an invalid, taken care of at home, for at least six years before his death in December 1911. Mrs. Thompson maintained their home, managed various properties they leased, engaged in an active social life, and occasionally sold homemade products such as fruit jellies and sewn novelties.
Ruth had two older brothers, Harold Evert Thompson and Lyman Hubbard Thompson, both of whom attended Purdue University, married, and served in the military during World War I.
In 1909 Ruth graduated from the Tudor Hall School for Girls in Indianapolis. After waiting a year, she entered a two-year program for girls not planning to attend college, at Bradford Academy in Haverhill, Massachusetts. She graduated in June 1912 and returned to her mother’s home in Indianapolis.
Ruth had an active social life in Indianapolis. She visited and received friends, neighbors, and relatives. She taught Sunday School, participated in educational and social clubs, and attended movies, plays, concerts, and lectures. She had numerous male friends, a few of whom became persistent suitors. She rejected all before expressing serious interest in Frank Richards. Frank went off to war, however, and the papers in this collection do not reveal how that relationship developed or ended.
Ruth traveled frequently to visit friends and relatives in Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky. She attended summer camps in Indiana and vacationed with her mother at lakeside resorts in Indiana and Michigan. In 1912 and 1915 she and her mother traveled by train to California for extensive visits with relatives, including attendance at the 1915 World’s Fair in San Francisco. Ruth visited friends in New England and New York over the holiday season of 1917/18, before joining her mother in Washington, DC, where her brothers were stationed temporarily.
Ruth led the life of a young, unemployed woman until World War I, when she volunteered with the Red Cross before taking a job briefly with the rationing administration in Indianapolis. The war ended, as did Ruth’s job, in November 1918. In the summer of 1920 she was on the staff of a girls’ camp in Michigan, and that is the last these papers reveal about her.