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Mary D. Edmonds Papers

Identifier: MSS 0552

Scope and Content

Primarily includes four travel diaries and a postcard book compiled by author Mary D. Edmonds during a six month trip to Italy in 1932. Also, includes select articles written by Mary D. Edmonds.

The diaries consist largely of letters sent, apparently, to her mother, Deborah, and her Aunt Jo, which were, along with various ephemera accumulated during her travels, incorporated into a series of loose-leaf binders. Based on documents contained in the diary, she departed New York on the ship Paris on February 12th, 1932, traveling tourist class and embarked for the return trip to the United States on July 29th.


Narrative of Mary Edmonds travel to Italy; transcript of diaries and history compiled by William Dolbier.


  • Creation: 1930 - 2022
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1930 - 1937



The collection is open for research. However, the diaries are very fragile. Use transcription first.

Biographical/Historical Note

Mary Deborah Edmonds was born on September 7, 1892 in Crewe, Virginia. Her father was William Baird Potts Edmonds; mother, Deborah Loeser (Edmonds). William Edmonds (Edmunds) was a member of the prominent Potts family of Pottsville, PA (nephew of W. Ramsay Potts). He and Deborah Loeser (a school teacher from Pottsville) were married in 1891 in an Episcopal church in Pottsville. Before becoming ill, he had risen to the position of Assistant Supervisor of the Norfolk Western Railroad in Virginia, where Mary was born in 1893 and William in 1895. After a protracted illness, he died at age 33 on August 26, 1898. By 1900, Deborah, her mother, now age 37, and a widow, had moved to Elizabeth, New Jersey, living as "head of household" with her sister Josephine Loeser (age 35), sister Hannah (age 39), Mary, and her son William Ramsay (age 4), and lodger Alfred H. Haarbleicher (age 33), initially at 47 Sayre Street, in Elizabeth, NJ. By 1905, they were all living at 122 West Grand Street, and in 1910 and 1915 at 239 Murray Street. In the census of 1920, Mary, now age 27, was listed as a teacher in a private school, living with her mother (age 56) and Aunt Jo (age 54), also another Aunt, Hannah Loeser (age 58), as well as with her brother, William R. Edmonds (age 24), and the lodger, Alfred H. Haarbleicher (age 53), still living at 229 Murray Street, in Elizabeth. By the 1930 census, they were all living at 219 Edgar Place, although, Mary, now 47 years old, was not listed as residing with them. Nevertheless, she refers to "my room" (in their home, listed as worth $18,000) in her 1932 diaries.

Mary graduated with "first honors" from Battin High School (then coeducational), within the "General" course on June 17, 1910. She was a member of the "Dance Committee" and delivered the "Class Prophecy" at the senior class night. That fall, 1910, according to school records, at age 18, Mary entered a two-year teacher's training program at Ethical Culture "Normal" School in New York City. She graduated on May 23, 1912. After graduating, Mary became an elementary school teacher (listed in 1915 NJ census as a kindergarten teacher), and remained so until the late 1940s.

Mary married Charles E. Pett, in 1946. He was a widowed civil engineer. After marriage, they lived in New York City, Mary continued to teach in Manhattan, probably at the Ethical Culture School, until Charles’ retirement, after which they moved to Coconut Grove (Miami), Florida, where they lived until Charles’ death in 1961. After his death, Mary moved to a nearby retirement home, but traveled constantly, visiting her inherited grandchildren along the east coast. Mary died in May, 1971.

Mary was interested in young children’s education, and she published two articles in journals, one in 1930, in the journal, The Survey, entitled: “Serfs, Troubadours & Spelling-Books, an adventure in play making”, and a second article entitled: "Literature and Children", published in The North American Review, in 1937. She was also a novelist, having published one novel, "Out of the Net", in 1941, a book intended for adolescent readers. It was well-regarded, as witnessed by a New York Times review of her book. She also published three anthologies of children’s stories with two co-editors, in the mid-1940s. As described in Mary’s Italian diaries, she successfully negotiated with the Duke di Cesaro in Rome, to obtain rights to a series of children’s stories that had been handed down by his family. With the assistance of an Italian friend, she translated these stories into English, though it is uncertain if they were ever published in America.

Mary traveled to Europe many times, obtaining her passport at age 29 in 1922, traveling to Germany, France and Switzerland on her first trip. In addition to her trip to Italy in 1932, which is described in the diaries, she traveled again to Italy in 1933 (probably to work at a school for the summer), after her mother died in December of 1932. Then to France in 1934. There are also boarding records of trips to Great Britain later, with her Aunt Jo.

See the biographical sketch in the narrative transcript of the driaries for more extensive infromation, compiled by William Dolbier.


Narrative of Mary Edmonds travel to Italy; transcript of diaries and history, and biographical information compiled by William Dolbier.


.58 Linear Feet (1 box)

Language of Materials



Primarily includes travel diaries compiled by author Mary D. Edmonds during a six month trip to Italy in 1932. Also, includes select articles written by Mary D. Edmonds.


University of Florida Smathers Library Building

Acquisition Information

Donated by William Dolbier.

Alternative Format Available

Digital reproductions of selected items in the Mary D. Edmonds Papers are available online via the University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC). Please read the Permissions for Use statement for information on copyright, fair use, and use of UFDC digital objects.

A Guide to the Mary D. Edmonds Papers
Finding aid created by Matt Kruse
July 2022
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Dacs
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Description is written in English.

Repository Details

Part of the Special and Area Studies Collections, George A. Smathers Libraries, University of Florida Repository

George A. Smathers Libraries
PO Box 117005
Gainesville Florida 32611-7005 United States of America