Riley’s Picks December 2020

Club Minutes: Mutual Improvement Association, 1883-1889


It is very easy to feel a sort of “post-holiday” and “pre-holiday” daze this week, as one festive occasion ends and another marches closer and closer. Jumping back into the swing of life and work can feel impossible during this time.

I found this helpful quote by Frank Gassaway which was shared by M.W. Kirk during a Mutual Improvement Association’s meeting in 1888: “Do not look disheartened on the work you have to do. And say that such a might task you never can get through; but just endeavor, day by day and point to gain and so the mountain which you found will prove to be a plain!”

I must say, The Mutual Improvement Association minutes are absolutely filled with gems such as this, I sometimes cannot pick just one!

Club Minutes: The Neighbors, 1951



Found within the Neighbors Club minutes of 1951, members, Isabelle and Loften, showed off their majestic pictures from their trip to the Rockies – pictures taken as slides and shared with a projector.  I chose to highlight this particular entry because this Friday, December 11, is International Mountain Day, a day recognizing the ecological importance of mountains, as well as the peoples and cultures that call mountains around the world their home.

Diary:  Ellen Stabler, 1860



Ellen Stabler’s diaries (1852-1922) radiates a simple charm.  While lacking the flowery prose oftentimes found within the archives, Ellen Stabler details daily events in plain broad strokes.

Her writing is succinct in its descriptions and consistent in the topics written about. I found her entries to be refreshingly on point and direct.  For instance, on page five of her 1860 diary, her entry for the 14th read, “[A] sleety day; rained all day; nothing of any account transpired: (sic) we finished the quilt.”

No flourish at all, however, I found myself thinking about all the rainy days I’ve had where nothing really happened, and I felt that if I kept a diary, my writing might be very similar to that of Ellen Stabler—minus the quilt!

Dairy:  Joseph A. Gilpin, October 27, 1886, to August 25, 1895 



Sixteen-year-old Joseph A. Gilpin’s diary entry (1886-1895) describes his journey from Sandy Spring, Maryland to Denver, Colorado.

He wrote, “…over the hill that hides the dear old village of Sandy Spring from sight which I think I will not have the pleasure of seeing again for years and may be never.”  Joseph was to have many exciting adventures, which would include working for renowned painter and photographer, William Henry Jackson.

Whether or not Joseph ever made it back to Sandy Spring, I’ll leave it to our readers to find out for themselves!