Guide to the Walter Ireland Dawkins Diaries, 1902-1932


Attorney and judge of the Supreme Bench of Baltimore, 1911-1934. Collection includes 10 manuscript diaries, with handwritten entries as well as inserted clippings and ephemeral items, dating from the years 1902, 1903, 1905, 1920-1922, 1926, 1929, 1930, and 1932.

Collection Details

Collection Number
Walter Ireland Dawkins Diaries
Dawkins, Walter Ireland
2 Linear Feet, 50 Items
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Material in English

Collection Overview

Collection consists of ten manuscript diaries, octavo, comprising 3467 pages of entries, plus ephemeral items and over 80 newspaper clippings. Clippings have been removed when found to separate folders for preservation of the journals. The diaries are dated 1902, 1903, 1905, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1926, 1929, 1930, and 1932. All are bound in their original cloth, of various colors. Four volumes have limp boards with normal wear to bindings. The entries are written in a neat hand, but one which requires some familiarity to read with ease.

In his diaries, Dawkins typically recorded weather observations, followed by descriptions of his activities and his cases as an attorney (1903-1905) and on the bench (1920-1922, 1926, 1929-1930, and 1932). He also records the deaths of his colleagues, friends, and noted individuals of the day. After his quotidian entries denoting the weather and workaday activities, Dawkins makes note of his leisure pursuits, or comments on local and national political events. He mentions his attendance at events, both social and cultural. In his early diaries, he shows a penchant for taking Turkish baths on Saturday afternoons, followed by oysters and a night at the opera. The diaries document at least two trips abroad to Europe in 1905 and 1922, each trip lasting several months. There are also several domestic trips: one to Mackinaw Island, Michigan, in 1921, and to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone in 1926. Shorter vacations are also mentioned. The death of Dawkins' brother James is recounted on June 29, 1920. (James Dawkins was a former police magistrate and a member of the state legislature for Maryland.) The diary for 1929 also recounts the Stock Market Crash of that year.

More Biographical / Historical Info

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How to Cite

[Identification of item], Walter Ireland Dawkins Diaries, David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University.

Contents of the Collection

1. Walter Dawkins Diaries, 1902-1932

2 boxes

Clippings have been removed to their own folders, arranged within the corresponding box by year.

Diary, 1902
Box 1
Diary, 1903
Box 1
Diary, 1905
Box 1
Diary, 1920
Box 2
Diary, 1921
Box 2
Diary, 1922
Box 2
Diary, 1926
Box 2
Diary, 1929
Box 2
Diary, 1930
Box 2
Diary, 1932
Box 2

Historical Note

Walter Ireland Dawkins was a judge on the Supreme Bench of Baltimore from 1911 to 1934. He was born in Leonardtown, Maryland, on October 21, 1858, the son of Young Paran Dawkins, a St. Mary's County farmer, merchant, judge of the Orphans Court, and member of the Board of County Commissions. Walter Dawkins received a B.S. in 1880 and M.A. in 1883 from St. John's College and practiced law briefly in St. Mary's County. He then moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and returned to Baltimore City in 1887. In Baltimore he built up a solid law practice and was on several occasions considered as a potential mayoral candidate. He was defeated in the Democractic primary in 1906 for a berth on the supreme bench, but was appointed to the bench in 1911 to fill a vacant term. Later that year he was elected to a fifteen year term and re-elected in 1926. In 1928, the state extended his term six years past the normal retirement age of seventy. He retired in 1934 and died two years later. Dawkins was active in numerous local organizations and served one term as President of the Maryland State Bar Association.

He was a "confirmed bachelor," rarely recording interactions with women of any kind. The diary for 1920 shows that Dawkins had a live-in servant, "Ding", who, according to the U.S. Census for 1920, was a 32-year-old Japanese immigrant, formally named Dengi Hanno.

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The Walter Ireland Dawkins Diaries were received by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library as a purchase in 2011.

Processing Information

Processed by Meghan Lyon, May 2011

Encoded by Meghan Lyon, May 2011

Accession(s) described in this finding aid: 2011-0066

Materials may not have been ordered and described beyond their original condition.