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George and Elenora Adams diaries, letters, and other material

Identifier: 7086

Scope and Contents

The collection contains 29 diaries by George E. Adams spanning the period from 1862 to 1895 (missing the years 1863, 1882, and 1888-1890); and 10 diaries by Elenora M. Adams spanning from 1873 to 1885 (missing the years 1879, and 1881-1882). Accompanying the diaries is an 1864 Civil War letter written by Elenora's two brothers (while both were serving in the 14th New Hampshire Infantry); together with a few other personal letters and documents relating to George and Elenora's work as teachers and store owners -- including three letterpress broadsheets advertising the various goods and services offered at their store in Westborough, Massachusetts, and other store-related ephemera.

The diaries contain detailed and harrowing accounts of George Adams' two-year tenure (1873-1874) as an officer, teacher, and night watchman at the Massachusetts State Reform School for Boys in Westborough, and of both George and Elenora's employment at the State Reform School for Boys in Portland, Maine (1874-1876). In George Adams' final six diaries (from 1887 and 1891-1895), he provides detailed accounts of his overland travel from Boston to East Los Angeles and of his first year in California working as a fruit picker for the Porter Brothers Company and as a real estate broker at the height of the land boom in 1887. In his other California diaries from the early 1890s, George details his efforts to make a living as a store owner and merchant, while at the same time still managing his real estate holdings and continuing to work as an occasional fruit picker, dairy farm laborer, and ranch hand.


  • 1856 - 1909


Conditions Governing Access

Advance notice required for access.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Manuscripts Librarian. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Special Collections as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained.


3.54 Linear Feet (6 boxes)

Language of Materials



The George and Elenora Adams diaries, letters, and other material contain 39 diaries, four letters, and various personal documents and ephemera kept by George E. Adams and his wife Elenora Martin Learned Adams. Throughout the course of their lives--as documented in their journals--George and Elenora worked as farmers, teachers, and store owners in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine before moving to Duarte near East Los Angeles in 1887. In California, George and Elenora tried their luck as fruit-pickers, real estate speculators, and store owners, including several months working on a relative's dairy farm and ranch in East Los Angeles, before eventually settling in Pasadena as merchants. The collection comprises a historically important and richly detailed first-hand account of a New England family's struggle to relocate during the California land boom of the mid-1880s and become successful merchants in Los Angeles.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from Between the Covers - Rare Books, Inc., February 26, 2019.

Finding aid for the George and Elenora Adams diaries, letters, and other material
Bo Doub
2019 March
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
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Repository Details

Part of the USC Libraries Special Collections Repository

Doheny Memorial Library 206
3550 Trousdale Parkway
Los Angeles California 90089-0189 United States