When a Historian Meets a Travel Diary

She naturally wants to know who, what, when, where, why.  The who was the difficult one: I had her name on the flyleaf, and what I thought was a timeless commentary (State Insane Asylum) by a teenager about her condition in life.  I should have known that a well-brought-up young lady in late-19th century America would not make that sort of comment.  Mary Campbell Andrews (1875-1962) was the daughter of Judson B. Andrews, M. D. (1834-1894) and Agnes Sinclair Campbell (1840-1931).  Dr. Andrews was the medical superintendent of Buffalo State Hospital from 1880 until his death, so Mary was not being snide, she really did live at the State Insane Asylum in Buffalo (although the official name for the institution was the Buffalo State Hospital).

Dr. J. B. Andrews

Dr. J. B. Andrews, photograph from “North Haven in the Nineteenth Century: A Memorial,” published by the Twentieth Century Committee, 1901.

J. B. Andrews was born in North Haven, Connecticut, in 1834, and graduated from Yale in 1855.  During the Civil War he was a captain of the 77th Regiment, New York Volunteers, and later assistant-surgeon of the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery.  In 1867 he was the 3rd assistant physician at Utica State Hospital, later becoming the 1st assistant.  Dr. Andrews became the superintendent of Buffalo State Hospital, remaining so until his death at the hospital in August 1894.  He was a prominent “alienist,” and was President of the Medico-Psychological Association (now called the American Psychiatric Association) from 1892-93.  He produced monographs such as “Exophthalmic goitre with insanity” (c. 1870) and “Case of excessive hypodermic use of morphia: three hundred needles removed from the body of an insane woman” (c. 1872).  Dr. Andrews married Agnes Sinclair Campbell, and daughter Mary was born in January 1875.

Mary seems to have lived her entire life in upstate New York; she was born in Utica, and died in Utica in 1962.  In between she married Dr. Herman Gustavus Matzinger and had four children.  Dr. Matzinger (1860 – 1931) came to prominence in 1901 as one of the doctors who performed the autopsy on President William McKinley.  McKinely was visiting the Pan-American Exposition of 1901 in Buffalo when he was shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz.  Unfortunately, he lingered on for another nine days, finally dying of what modern scientists think was pancreatic necrosis (secondary to the abdominal trauma).  Pancreatic necrosis remains a high-mortality condition today.  Dr. Matzinger was variously designated as a bacteriologist (of the Buffalo State Pathological Laboratory) at the time of the McKinley assassination, and later as a Professor of Psychiatry at University of Buffalo.   I love the days of undifferentiated medical practice . . . .

Travel Diary: Paris

As a historian, I have never been interested in French history.  Part of reason is that the French seem to have been rather inept at managing their affairs in the 18th, 19th, and into the 20th century.  As I read Miss Mary’s diary, I have to remind myself that while she was 100 years from the French Revolution (and as with many people to this day, enamored of the “romance” of Marie Antoinette), she was a mere 18 years from the 1871 Paris Commune.  When she visited the ruins of the Château de Saint-Cloud, she was looking at recent history, events that occurred around the time she was born.  

Wednesday June 19

Staid at in the house in the morning and went to the market with Madameselle.  It was very funny to see how the French motion when they talk.  In aft. went to St. Cloud and saw the ruined castle.


Chateau de Saint-Cloud, after 1870. Photographer Charles Soulier, from the Conway Collection, Cortauld Institute of Art.

The grounds are perfectly beautiful and it is the loveliest place I have seen in France.  The fountains must be beautiful when they playing.  The grounds are all woods with pretty paths out through.  This is where Napolian likes to stay.  In the evening we went to the opera and saw Romeo and Juliet.  It was splendid and I never saw a lovelier woman than Juliet.  Romeo was handsome too.  I don’t like the play very well because it is too sad at the end.

June 20 Thursday

Went to Versailles this morning.  Drove to the palace and went through it.  Saw the rooms of Marie Antoinette and rooms of Louis the Thirteenth and the room the dolphin was sleeping in when the mob came and the staircase down which Marie escaped from the mob, also where she came out on the balcony with the dolphin.  We saw the largest oiling painting in the world and a painting 71 feet long and 16 feet high and so many other things that I can’t remember them.


Capture of the Smala of Abd-El-Kader, painted in 1844 by Horace Vernet (1789-1863).

Then we drove to Great Trignion and went through it and saw Marie Antoinette’s bed with a bed spread embroidered by the Ladies of Lyons and given to her for a wedding present.  Then we went to a place where they keep old state carriages and saw the longest carriage which Napolian had to take his boy to be christened in, Marie Antoinette’s sleigh and Madame De Barry sleigh that she rode in when she had the sugar and salt put down the snow, and many others.  Then we drove to Little Trignion and to Marie Antoinette’s dairy and saw where she made butter.  The grounds are very pretty.


Hameau de la Reine: Chateau de Versailles, 2011. Photographer: Jean-Christophe Benoist. Wikimedia Commons

June 21 Friday

I stayed at home today and rested.  I was very tired when I got home from Versailles yesterday.  Wrote a letter to Agnes and took a walk.