Access, holdings & availability
- Simmons, William R., 1850-1920.
29 volumes + photographs, 1 letter, memorabilia.
- Simmons, Harriet Rose, born 1855.
English diaries -- Specimens -- 19th century.
English diaries -- Specimens -- 20th century.
English diaries -- Male authors -- 19th century.
English diaries -- Male authors -- 20th century.
Courtship -- England -- 19th century.
England -- Social life and customs -- 19th century.
England -- Description and travel -- 19th century.
England -- Description and travel -- 20th century.
England -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
Paris (France) -- Description and travel -- 19th century.
France -- Description and travel -- 20th century.
Switzerland -- Description and travel -- 20th century.
Italy -- Description and travel -- 20th century.
Germany -- Description and travel -- 20th century.
Norway -- Description and travel -- 19th century.
Egypt -- Description and travel -- 20th century.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Ledgers (account books)
Manuscripts, English -- 19th century.
Manuscripts, English -- 20th century.
- Born on 7 February 1850 to William R. and Jane Simmons of Dalston, London, England. Simmons had at least two siblings who he mentions in the diaries. They are Pollie and Thomas (Tom). On 12 April 1877 after four years of courtship, Simmons married Harriet Rose Fagg, known as Rose. She was born in Folkstone, England 1 October 1855. William and Rose Simmons had six children, one of whom died three days after his birth. The Simmons' children are: Elsie Rose, born 2 December 1877; Alice Gertrude, known as Gertie, born 9 November 1880; Nora Marie, born September 1882; William Harold, known as Harold, born 12 January 1884; and Irene J., known as Renie, born October 1885. William R. Simmons was an insurance broker with W. H. Smith and Son. In 1906, after a long sick leave, Simmons retired with his wife to a bungalow in Reading, England.
- Comprises twenty-nine volumes, spanning fifty-one years of William R. Simmons' life from 1867 to 1918. Volumes 1-3 begin in August 1867. The title on the first page is "Log of a Voyage to Bombay." The seventeen-year-old Simmons records, almost daily, his apprenticeship on board the Royal Standard. Simmons writes of his duties on board, his relationship with other crew members, illness on board, and how in 1868 the Royal Standard becomes a cargo vessel for the British expedition to Abyssinia. Simmons describes transporting human and animal cargo. In one case he mentions there are 150 coolies and 250 head of cattle on board. He talks of visiting other ships, ports of call, fishing for shrimp, and numerous other activities. Volume 3 ends abruptly in August 1868 during Simmons' return trip from Bombay. There are no volumes between August 1868 and November 1870. Volumes 4-9 describe Simmons early adult life. He lives with his parents, brother Tom, and sister Pollie. He discusses his job and his wish for a raise. Simmons records current national and international events. Some examples are, news of the Royal family, parliament, war between Germany and France, news of David Livingstone in Africa, and an October 1871 fire in Chicago, Illinois. He attends missionary society meetings at the local Baptist church where he also serves as a librarian for the Sunday school. Simmons delivers an essay at one meeting entitled "The Last African Slave Trade" (a copy is in Volume 29). He mentions books he is reading including the works of Mark Twain. Simmons gives a detailed description of his relationship with Harriet Rose (Fagg) Simmons. Rose and William experience a four-year courtship due to her parents' misgivings and Simmons records all of his emotions of love, disappointment, and frustration during this time. Some portions of these volumes, containing the courtship of William and Rose, have been excised or erased. After William and Rose marry in 1877 the diary entries become more sporadic. However, Simmons gives accounts regarding all the aspects of family life. These include obtaining a new job, buying a house, the health of his wife, each child's birth, and travel. Volume 9 is the last diary in which Simmons records his family's day-to-day life. Volumes 10-27 record journeys taken by Simmons alone or with family members. Each volume has a written title on the cover describing the journey. At the beginning of each volume Simmons usually mentions family news. The travel journals record sights, people, monuments, and each stop along the journey. Included in these travel diaries are small sketches, hand-drawn maps, newspaper clippings, and some cut out images that are pasted in the journals. In addition, at the end of each journal Simmons records the expenses incurred during the trip. Volume 10: "June 1885, Bicycle tour with Walter W. Fagg through Wales to Bowdon;" Volume 11: "Rose & self to Paris via Newhaven, May 1886- Walking trip with Tom to Weymouth, Sept. 1886-First business trip to Channel Islands, June 1887-Bicycle trip to Bowdon, July 1887;" Volume 12: "Rose & self to Norway in old 'Rollo' July 1894," for a printed layout of the ship S S. Rollo see Folder; Volume 13: "Rose & self, May & June 1895, Tour of Switzerland and home down the Rhine;" Volume 14: "Bicycle trip tandem with Rose, June 1898, 615 miles;" Volume 15: "Tour in Switzerland, Italian lakes, Rome, Naples, Florence, Venice, April & May 1900, Rose, self, Elsie;" Volume 16: "Tramp alone, May 1903, Plymouth along south coast, Cornwall to Lands End, back along north coast to Wadebridge, 174 miles;" Volume 17: "Trip to [Germany] July 1905, to escort Elsie to Leipzig;" Volume 18: "Sick leave holiday began Oct. 2nd 1905, of uncertain length, of uncertain destination, of uncertain result;" Volume 19: "Trip with Harold, Oct. 1906 into Devon & Cornwall, also tour of Switzerland, May 1907;" Volume 20: "February-March 1908, Trip to Pyrenees, Central France;" Volume 21: "Sept.-Oct. 1908, Rose & self, London, Loughborough, Southport, Bowdon, Lincoln;" Volume 22: "1909 Another trip alone, this time through France and North Italy;" Volume 23: "Bike trip with Harold, tour in Somerset & Devon, May 17 to 20 1909;" Volume 24: "1910 Cruise on the S.S. Dunalter Castle, Gibraltar, Tangier, Algiers, Palermo, Marseilles, Eastern Pyrenees, Central France, Normandy, Brittany;" Volume 25: "1910 Scotland with H.R.S. (Harriet Rose Simmons) & N.M.S. (Nora Marie Simmons) finishing at Folkstone and E. Sussex;" Volume 26: "March 1911 trip to the Mediterranean, Holy Land, and Egypt;" Volume 27: "1912 Cruise in S.S. Meteor (German)," on the first page Simmons has a note to the reader describing why he keeps these journals. In Volume 28 Simmons resumes an almost daily log of his life in 1913. Volume 29 is a personal year-end account book kept by Simmons from 1873 to 1918. The volume also contains essays and a poem by Simmons. In addition to the 29 volumes is a folder containing a partial typed transcription of Volume 1, 5 photographs, a 1920 letter to William Harold Simmons (son of William) from his uncle, Thomas Simmons (brother of William), and some memorabilia.
- Volume 1. August 1867-26 December 1867
Volume 2. 27 December 1867-3 April 1868
Volume 3. 5 April 1868-12 August 1868
Volume 4. 14 December 1870-24 October 1871.
Volume 5. December 1871-8 August 1873
Volume 6. 8 August 1873-28 November 1874
Volume 7. 14 December 1874-12 December 1876
Volume 8. 28 November 1876-8 November 1880
Volume 9. 13 November 1880-31 December 1886
Volume 10. June 1885
Volume 11. 1886-1887
Volume 12. July 1894
Volume 13. May-June 1895
Volume 14. June 1898
Volume 15. April-May 1900
Volume 16. May 1903
Volume 17. July 1905
Volume 18. October 1905-August 1907
Volume 19. 1906-1907
Volume 20. 1908
Volume 21. September-October 1908
Volume 22. January-March 1909
Volume 23. May 1909
Volume 24. February-March 1910
Volume 25. August 1910
Volume 26. March-April 1911
Volume 27. February-March 1912
Volume 28. January-March 1913
Volume 29. 1873-1918
- Local notes:
- Acquired for the Penn Libraries with assistance from the Amy Comegys Memorial Fund.
Acquired for the Penn Libraries with assistance from the Martin and Margy Meyerson Endowment Fund for Special Collections.
- Sold by Alastor Rare Books (Lymington, England), cat. 21 (2012), no. 65.
- Simmons, William Harold, b. 1884 recipient.
Simmons, Thomas F., correspondent.
Amy Comegys Memorial Fund.
Martin and Margy Meyerson Endowment Fund for Special Collections.
- Web link:
- The Amy Comegys Memorial Fund Home Page
The Martin and Margy Meyerson Endowment Fund for Special Collections Home Page