Mary A. Bazzoni Diaries, 1910-1928


Quantity: 1 box (0.25 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Purchase; Carmen D. Valentino, 1990
Processed By: Jill Tominosky, Student Assistant, Manuscripts and Special Collections, October 2019.

Biographical Note:

Mary A. Dayton (DeNee) Bazzoni (December 23, 1861-1928 (?)) of Newburgh, Orange County, New York, married Charles Lewis Bazzoni (April 12, 1861-1938), a carriage maker and ferryman, on March 14, 1883. They settled at 30 Liberty Street, Newburgh. The Bazzonis had a son, Charles Blizard (January 28, 1886-1970), who married Edith Vera Harling of London, England, on December 31, 1919, and a daughter, Eleanor "Nell" Rosalie ([December 17?],1883-1938), who married Raymond D. Adolph on December 27, 1917. Newburgh’s city hall originally was built for Lewis J. Bazzoni (1821-1895), Charles Lewis’s father and a woodworker, to house his sleigh and carriage business.

Scope and Content Note:

The diaries of Mary A. Dayton (Mrs. Charles L.) Bazzoni describe the daily activities and events in the life of a housewife living in Newburgh, Orange County, New York, in the first quarter of the twentieth century, including illnesses, visits made and received, trips taken, and the weather. The diary also served as an account book, listing daily expenses for food, bills, Christmas and birthday gifts, etc. As such, it provides a snapshot of the kinds of food one had to buy daily, inflation or the lack thereof, and even a look at brand-name products of the period.

Entries of note relative to world events include World War I, which interested her because her son was in Europe at the time; the Spanish Influenza outbreak of 1918-1919, with frequent mentions between October 7 and November 2, 1918; the first transatlantic call to London (January 7, 1927); and Charles Lindbergh’s arrival in Paris (May 21, 1927). There is no mention of the woman suffrage movement in either the 1917 or 1918 diaries; the first mention of her (or any member of her family) voting is September [sic] 20, 1927 [sic]. A November 7, 1918, entry noted "The war is over …Great parade and noise … Joy it is over." The November 8 entry noted "The war is not over. A mistake in reading the message or some blunder in some way …"

Based on what Mary wrote in her diary, much of her life revolved around writing letters to and waiting for letters from her son and daughter, cleaning the house, sewing (frequently with her husband or daughter reading out loud to her while she sewed), ironing, and taking care of a succession of cats. However, the intersection of her family’s lives with movies, the phonograph, radio and the automobile opened their world.

For example, going to movies – which Mary initially referred to as photo plays (see May 22, 1918) – and buying records to play on their phonograph, which they bought in 1914, are two activities mentioned in several entries.

When her daughter and her son-in-law, Nell and Ray, bought a radio (Radiola) in January 1927, a whole other world opened to the Bazzonis; for weeks, every evening they listened to the radio and were upset when the batteries died, and they had to wait for replacements. Mary and Charles were visiting Nell in Blauvelt, Rockland County, New York, about 40 miles from Newburgh, at the time of the Colden Street fire in Newburgh on January 11, 1927. Mary wrote: "We got [the news of the fire] over the radio … Radio is great."

When Mary’s son Charles got a car in June 1919, the family no longer had to rely on trains or buses, which only traveled along specific routes. They started going out for drives around the region, and Mary recounted each trip in some detail, specifically noting how long the trip took, how many miles they went, etc.

In 1927 Mary wrote in two diaries, sometimes writing in one and sometimes the other and sometimes both, with some overlap. Thus, one needs to look at both diaries to get a complete picture of some days.

The 1928 diary and one of the 1927 diaries was published by Wanamaker’s, a Philadelphia-based department store. The 1927 Wanamaker diary includes 252 pages of advertisements for all manner of products from ice cream to cosmetics and clothing to housewares; an almanac; a daily-expenses spreadsheet for each month; city directory-type information (churches, New York City subway-route information, etc.); information on postal services; beauty tips; recipes; a black-and-white drawing of a woman mostly in fashionable clothes to introduce each month, and other items of interest for the 1927 man or woman. The first advertisement in the 1927 diary is for the Wanamaker store in New York City. The 1928 Wanamaker diary has similar content to the 1927 diary but also includes seating layouts for 73 New York City theaters. The last dated entry in the 1928 diary is July 19th.

Box and Volume List:






1910. Includes several tipped-in newspaper articles about Mary’s children dating from 1914 to 1919 plus an undated item: "[Captain C.B.] Bazzoni Honored by Americans and British for His Work in War"



1914. Mentions of family trip to Bermuda in August and, on December 28: "Phonograph installed."



1917. Includes envelope of newspaper clippings, most of which are entitled "War Names in the News" which are pronunciations of French communities



1918. Inscribed on first page: "M.A.B. from C.L.B. Christmas." Includes envelope and letter dated December 26, 1918, that Mary ("Mater") had written but not sent to Chas B because she had received a cable from him on December 27 and the actual telegram. Pasted in on front and back covers more "War Names in the News" newspaper clippings. Also a 14-inch piece of black ribbon and a newspaper clipping with two letters to the editor dated Oct. 13 and Oct. 12, 1918



1919. Inscribed on first page: "Christmas from Chas. L. to M.A.B." Includes envelope with a photograph of a woman and an elderly man. Inscribed in pen on the front: Mary A. Bazzoni. Presumably this is a photo of Mary. Also includes a recipe for "Ice Box Cake," a chocolatey dessert, from a newspaper.



1925. Inscribed: Mary A. Bazzoni/Birthday Dec. 23, 1924/from Nellie and Ray." Includes (1)newspaper article about the total eclipse of the sun on January 24;(2)two recipes from newspaper: "Carrot Marmalade" and "Apple Custard Omelet"; (3)article from the Philadelphia Public Ledger, May 1, 1925: "Lamp Franklin Used Is Found"; (4) newspaper item which includes information on L.J. Bazzoni’s carriage-making business (n.d.); (5) loose, hand-written account slip of cost of items for Vera, Chas B., Nell, and Ray (n.d.)



1927. Includes newspaper article: "Be a Diplomatic In-Law and Avoid Tangles" by Kathleen Norris; four other items from newspapers: (1) a poem entitled "America for Me"; (2) a short piece entitled "What is the essence of Protestantism?"; (3) an article about Methodism in Newburgh; (4) a question-and-answer from Dr. S. Parkes Cadman’s column re: "If a man and woman marry without loving or caring deeply for each other …" (found between June 25 and June 26) and two Christmas gift cards; (5) ink blotter (found between December 30 and December 31)



1927 – inscribed: "M.A.B. [Mary A. Bazzoni] Dec -3-1926 from C.L.B. [Charles L. Bazzoni]"



1928. Inscribed: Mary, Dec. 7. Chas – gave me this book. Includes letter to "My dear little girl [Nellie]" from "Your loving Mater and Pater, 30 Liberty Street, [Newburgh, N.Y.], May 8, 1928. A.L. 3(4)p.

Last Updated: May 24, 2021