Tuesday, February 26, 2013

A 1912 Travel Journal

Elsie Metz Travel Journal
My second cousin Joe Metz in Cincinnati received a call out of the blue one day last fall. A woman on the phone mentioned that she had an old travel journal written by Elsie Metz. It had been in the possession of a friend of hers who had died. The friend had been married to a Metz but they had no children to leave the journal with. As this woman didn't want to just throw it away, she went to the Internet and started looking for people in the Cincinnati area researching the name of Metz. She contacted Joe and he said of course he would take the journal. They arranged a meeting and she gave him the book.

Joe's intent is to give the journal to the Cincinnati History Museum with the understanding that they will scan it and then give scanned copies to him, me and the University of Cincinnati where Elsie received her college degrees. One of our other cousins works there, so he feels his request will be honored. I, on the other hand, am a little more skeptical. What if they decide it is not worthy of wasting their resources on? What if they don't give us a scanned copy? So I asked Joe if he would consider letting me take the journal back to St. Louis so that I could scan it. We met over President's weekend when I went to Cincinnati, and I have since scanned the journal. I will now return the original to him. I have not taken the time to read it completely through, but Elsie boarded the USS Cincinnati (and how ironic is that?) in January 30, 1912 in New York, and returned to that same city on May 20, 1912. What an adventure that must have been!

I am interested in this story for a number of reasons. Elsie was born in 1880, and was awarded a Liberal Arts Degree from the University of Cincinnati in 1902. She was selected to receive the Teaching Fellowship in Modern Languages there in 1903. How unusual for a woman to go to college back then, particularly at an institution that was not exclusively female. She went on to get a Master of Arts degree from the same institution in 1913. She was very well traveled as I can see not only from this journal but also passport applications and ship passenger lists. I knew of at least five times that she traveled by ship.

Once I read the journal I can determine if she has a story to tell - or maybe I should say one for me to tell. Wouldn't it be amazing to retrace her steps from 1912 and compare my travels to hers from over 100 years ago?


Linda Austin said...

I think that was very smart of you to scan the diary before letting the museum have it. Who knows if and when they would get around to scanning. Hope Elsie wrote down plenty of details!

Mrs. Wryly said...

I think the retrace would make a great story! Good idea to scan. Wouldn't that amaze Elsie?