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James L. Rumsey Diary

 Item — Box: 1 of 1
Identifier: RH-A-4230

Scope and Contents

The collection is composed of one five-year diary kept by James Llewellyn Rumsey of Grand Rapids, Michigan from 1918 to 1922.

The pages in his diary are filled with accounts of the daily weather, travels, errands, and visitors. Also mentioned are daily chores such as running the cleaner and canning his wife Flora (Newton) and sister-in-law Lillian (Holms) did with seasonal fruits and vegetables. The prices of goods and services are often mentioned as well real estate deals closed by his brother George A. Rumsey. Visitors who came calling are also mentioned by name as well as friends and relatives who died. Although most topics covered are close to home, some notable city, state, and world news is included.

James speaks often of going to the camera club with Flora and developing prints and lantern slides in his own darkroom. They also spent many days tending to flower gardens and brought bulbs from their Grandville Avenue estate to Lake Drive and a cottage at Pier Cove. They lived near George and Lillian on Lake Drive in Grand Rapids for much of the time covered in the diary and often enjoyed dinners together.

The memoranda section of the diary lists the names of people who attended the 1918-1921 family reunions, his 1921 and 1922 class of 1870 high school reunion, and the University of Michigan class of 1874 reunion in 1919. Also noted is a list of furniture sent to their place at Pier Cove and notes on how to get the best view for lantern slides.


  • Creation: 1918-1922


Biographical / Historical

James Llewellyn Rumsey was born December 26, 1848 and died August 6, 1929. He was a lifelong resident of Grand Rapids. In 1870 he graduated high school and attended the University of Michigan the next year. In 1874 he graduated with a degree in civil engineering. He was a member of the Grand Rapids Engineer Society.


.10 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

This item was purchased with funds from the Starring Endowment.

Physical Description

The collection amounts to .10 cubic feet and composed of one diary kept for the years 1918 through 1922. It measures 3.5”x6”x1” and is bound in black leather with gold gilt edges and lettering. Front and endpapers are plain green paper. The number 13 is stamped in red on the first green page.

The diary is approximately 392 pages filled with one page for each calendar year divided into five sections with dark blue lines so that each date contains the information for what occurred that day each of the five years, and 17 memoranda pages for recording additional information. Each section starts with 19 and the user fills in the year(s) they are using the book. Fainter blue lines are provided for the user to write on. The cover script reads “A Line A Day” and has a decorative etching underneath. Both are gold embossed. The title page reads “WARD’S “A LINE A DAY” BOOK. Condensed, Comparative Record For Five Years. “Nulla dies sine linea.” (No day without a line).” It is trademarked Ward’s Stationery, Boston. The reverse of the page contains Copyright information: “Copyrighted 1892 BY SAMUEL WARD COMPANY, BOSTON, MASS.” A prefatory on the next page gives suggestions for use.

The pages of the diary are in good condition and easy to read. The front and back covers are moderately worn with some creases and cracks along the edges. The material on the lower right-hand corner of the front cover has been worn to the point where the red inner core is showing. The leather on the spine is mostly gone with just a 2” strip remaining near the top attached at the front only.

James L. Rumsey Diary finding aid
Stephanie Chapman
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections Repository

Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US
(269) 387-8490