1928 Diary of a Michigan Teacher on the Trip of a Lifetime, Cruising Through Europe, Grand Tour-Style

  • $489.99
    Unit price per 
Tax included.

On offer is a very interesting travel diary dating from the later 1920’s detailing a trip to Europe.

This travel diary was kept in 1928 by Helen T. Mitchell (later Maruska) (1904-1972). Helen was born to parents Charles and Katherine in Bay City, Michigan. She worked as a school teacher. Helen married Robert P. Maruska (1893-1968), an accountant, on November 26, 1936. Shortly after marrying, the couple moved to Chicago, where they lived and worked until Robert’s death in 1968. They had no children. 

On June 20th 1928, Mitchell and some friends embarked on a cruise to Europe. The trip in many ways was like a ‘Grand Tour’, as it took them through major cities and they had the opportunity to see and experience many of the great sights of the continent. 

The diary begins with an entry dated June 20th and 21st. Helen leaves her family home in Bay City and travels to Quebec City by rail before boarding the passenger liner RMS Antonio. RMS Antonio was a ship owner by the Cunard Line that sailed the London to Montreal route. During WWII. She served as an armed merchant cruiser and a troop transport. Following the war, she was scrapped in 1948.

The diary recounts interesting and significant events each day. An excerpt gives the flavour of her entries: 

“... Had fruit brought to our cabin then walked around the decks for a long walk. Much colder. Temperature is… 42 [degrees]! Played bridge had lunch and then wrote letters had tea and then spent the remainder of the afternoon looking at icebergs. They are quite large and shade from white to deep blue...We passed the Strait of Belle Isle about five o’clock and then reached the Atlantic Ocean...Everyone is talking about the Titanic disaster. A slight fog has started. The last trip over, this boat was stuck because of fog and icebergs for sixteen hours…” [June 24, 1928]. 

Landing in Liverpool, she and her friends travelled to London:

“... Passed Rugby – saw beautiful country, thatch-roofed houses, hedges and canals, community gardens. Arrived in London at 1 o’clock. Went immediately to the Royal Hotel. Next with Buggemans to Hyde Park, Mayfair, saw Princess Mary’s home – Chesterfield Place. Also Duke of York’s home…” [July 1, 1928]. 

After exploring central London and enjoying shopping, she caught a train to Dover and crossed the channel to France. Her travels through Europe took her through Belgium, through Germany and down part of the Rhine River. From there, she travelled to Switzerland. She comments on famous sights such as Heidelberg Castle and great works of art by artists such as Louis Dumoulin (Panorama of the Battle of Waterloo). 

From Switzerland, her journeys take her to Italy and Rome. She makes careful note of the many places visited in Rome and the things she saw such as art and sculpture.

From Rome, she travelled to Paris via Monte Carlo:

“Took the Corniche Drive today. Beautiful scenery. Followed the Paillon River up the Esterel mountains through Eze and Turbie very old French cities dating back to 7 B.C. Saw the home of Ibanez at Cap Martin. Had lunch at the Palace Hotel in Monte Carlo…” [July 28, 1928]. 

“... Had lunch at Maxim’s for $6. Ham sandwich and chocolate. Went to Elizabeth Arden, Coty’s, Roger & Gallet for perfumes. Window shopped most all day. Had dinner and went to the Folies Bergere. Wonderful revue…” [July 31, 1928].

On Aug 4th, her friends left Paris to return on the RMS Ausonia for their trip home via Montreal. Mitchell went on to return on board RMS Carmania direct to New York City. She returned home to Bay City on Aug 16, 1928

The diary’s “Address” section contains the names and addresses of over 3 dozen fellow passengers that she met on her trip. Interestingly, she recorded daily latitude and longitude of both Atlantic crossings.

Other pages provide a detailed currency exchange listing for pounds, French, Belgian and Swiss francs. There is a list of all the hotels she stayed at and an itemized expense accounting. Also of interest is a large, detailed map of the United States, Caribbean and Central America showing shipping routes.

For a geographer, this is an excellent description of the early 20th century American version of the ‘Grand Tour’. Her descriptions make no reference to the brutally destructive war that was fought scarcely 10 years earlier so it gives a very good idea of the extent of reconstruction. A social historian or a researcher into Women’s Studies would find it a very interesting look into the life of a young, educated, well-off American woman in the inter-war years. 

The diary measures about 6.5 inches by 4.25 inches and contains 224 pages. It is divided into 7 sections and is approximately 50% complete. Some sections such as the description of the journey itself are fully complete while others such as “Side Trips” have only a few entries. The covers are in good condition as are the binding and spine. The pages are in good condition as well and the handwriting is legible.

Please don't hesitate to contact us for more information or to request photos. (Kindly include the SKU, listed on this page above the price, in your e-mail so we can more easily answer your questions.)

We Also Recommend