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Guide to the Mary Gorham Paine Diary, 1879-1884 and undated

Abstract

Mary Gorham Paine (b. 1843) of Yarmouth, Massachusetts, was married to Eben W. Paine (1835-1904) of Brewster, Massachusetts, a merchant ship captain in the trade between Boston and Zanzibar. They had one son, Allan Thatcher Paine (b. 1882).

The collection consists of a single diary kept by Mary Gorham Paine as she traveled twice by ship from Boston to islands near Madagascar. Forty-six manuscript pages provide both a day-by-day account of her trip aboard the Sarah Hobart to Nossi-Be (present day Nosy Be) from December 25, 1879 to May 4, 1880, and a three-page, mid-journey synopsis of the passage with her young son to Reunion Island, begun on December 13, 1883. As is made clear by the text, the intent of both voyages was to join her husband who was probably located in Zanzibar at the time. Newspaper clippings chiefly concerned with literary topics, news and issues relating to Africa, and obituaries for her husband and others are pasted into 18 pages following the narrative portion of the diary together with a photograph of a man and another of a baby, most likely her husband and son. The diary as a whole provides some insight into the life of a sea captain's wife and a description of long-distance ocean travel aboard a barque such as the Sarah Hobart.

Descriptive Summary

Repository
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
Creator
Paine, Mary Gorham, 1843-
Title
Mary Gorham Paine Diary 1879-1884 and undated
Language of Material
English
Extent
0.1 Linear Feet, 1 Item
Location
For current information on the location of these materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Collection Overview

The collection consists of a single diary kept by Mary Gorham Paine as she traveled twice by ship from Boston to islands near Madagascar. Forty-six manuscript pages provide both a day-by-day account of her trip aboard the Sarah Hobart to Nossi-Be (present day Nosy Be) from December 25, 1879 to May 4, 1880, and a three-page, mid-journey synopsis of the passage with her young son, Allan, to Reunion Island, begun on December 13, 1883. As is made clear by the text, the intent of both voyages was to join her husband, Captain Eben W. Paine, who was probably located in Zanzibar at the time. Newspaper clippings chiefly concerned with literary topics, news and issues relating to Africa, and obituaries for her husband and others are pasted into 18 pages following the narrative portion of the diary together with a photograph of a man and another of a baby, most likely her husband and son. The clippings lack an indication of the year and source except for the "Literary Leaves" articles which are from the Boston Journal.

The diary provides some insight into the life of a sea captain's wife and a description of long-distance ocean travel aboard a barque such as the Sarah Hobart. Paine initially suffered from sea-sickness, but once recovered, occupied herself with sewing, reading, washing, and baking, as well as socializing and playing cards and Parcheesi with fellow travelers. She often mentioned the activities of her primary companions, Mrs. Crocker and the ship's Captain, who sometimes cooked special meals for his female passengers and was often engaged in washing clothing himself. In addition, Paine unfailingly commented on the weather, foods served at meals, number of miles traveled, number of days at sea, and types of ships sighted. On April 18th, after nearly four months at sea, the ship made port at Tamatave, Madagascar (present day Toamasina). Paine mentioned little about the six days spent ashore and continued with the diary only until arrival at Nossi-Be. The summary description of the second journey centers mainly on Paine's concern with her 20-month old son's well-being and activities aboard ship, her own struggle with sea-sickness and feelings of inadequacy in managing her son, and her appreciation for the assistance of Mrs. Hill and the ship's Captain in caring for him. The final update to the narrative was added on February 4th, 1884, while still en route to their first stop, Reunion Island.

Administrative Information

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Collection is open for research.

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Please contact Research Services staff before visiting the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library to use this collection.

warning Use Restrictions

The copyright interests in this collection have not been transferred to Duke University. For more information, consult the copyright section of the Regulations and Procedures of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Contents of the Collection

Mary Gorham Paine diary, 1879-1884 and undated
Folder 1

Historical Note

Mary Gorham Paine was born on March 2, 1843, in Yarmouth, Massachusetts, to Captain Thacher Gorham (1806-1874) and Dinah Hall Bray (1807-1856). She married Captain Eben W. Paine (1835-1904) of Brewster, Massachusetts, and had one son, Allen Thatcher Paine, born on April 29, 1882. Her husband, who commanded merchant ships in the trade between Boston and Zanzibar, resided in Zanzibar as agent for the Ropes & Co. shipping firm for several years, presumably during the time this diary was written. After retirement, he farmed cranberries and later served as Brewster's town clerk, treasurer, and director of the Barnstable County Mutual Fire Insurance Company.

Subject Headings

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], Mary Gorham Paine Diary, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Provenance

The Mary Gorham Paine Diary was received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2007.

Processing Information

Processed by Danielle Moore, September 2010

Encoded by Danielle Moore, September 2010

Accession 2007-0113 is described in this finding aid.

Descriptive sources and standards used to create this inventory: DACS, EAD, NCEAD guidelines, and local Style Guide.

This finding aid is NCEAD compliant.