Summer travels with the University Archives            

Now that Commencement has passed and the campus has calmed, are you thinking summer about travel plans?

Here’s some inspiration from the University Archives: three travel diaries from three very different writers and from very different times and circumstances.

SS Bremen, Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-11081 / Georg Pahl / CC-BY-SA 3.0

Nathaniel Fish Moore travel diary, 1851

Nathaniel Fish Moore received an AB in 1802 and an MA in 1805 from Columbia College. He served as adjunct professor of Greek and Latin at Columbia from 1817 to 1835. He later sold his personal library to the College and was appointed as the first full-time College Librarian in 1838. He became the eighth president of Columbia College in 1842, and even after he resigned from the position in 1849, he continued to serve as a Trustee until 1851. Having served Columbia College in so many ways for so many years, Moore went on a trip to England in 1851. The University Archives holds a diary from this retirement trip. On the cover, Moore calls it “Visit to England etc., Volume 3rd.” It includes entries from Dublin, Belfast, Edinburgh, Paris, London, Liverpool, etc.

Jerome W. Frank canoe trip diary, 1886-1887

brown leather travel diary cover

Jerome W. Frank was a student in the Columbia School of Mines, Engineering and Chemistry. He was pursuing a PhB (Bachelor of Philosophy) in Chemistry. He joined the Columbia College Canoe Club on a 6-week cruise on Lake George and Champlain in the summer of 1886. The outing was such a success that Frank would repeat the journey in 1887. He wrote an account of the 1886 outing, he says, anticipating a future where he pictured himself “picking up these pages and driving dull care away with youthful memories.” He claims all events from that “ne’er to be forgotten cruise … can be credited as facts, none are apocryphal” and promises that some of the doings had “mayhap better be left unsaid.”

Margaret Kimmel travel diary, 1939 

Margaret Kimmel received an AM in 1918 from Columbia University and she worked at the Columbia University Libraries from 1924 to 1948. An experienced traveller, Kimmel would go to Europe at the end of every summer. In August 1939, Kimmel boarded the SS Bremen on what would be the ship’s last departure with passengers from New York. From Bremen, Kimmel took a train to Bologna to start her holiday trip but quickly noted that there were no tourists in Italy and “none at all in Germany. All afraid of war.” Seeing increasing troop movements and refugees crowding trains, Kimmel and the other stranded tourists traveled through the south of France until she was able to board a ship back to the US. Written mostly in pencil, the leather-bound, pocket-sized diary includes entries related to Kimmel’s everyday affairs (sights, meals, weather, etc.), the growing signs of war, and the complicated logistics for the return to New York.