1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

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    R.I.H.S. Library page

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 Helen Clarke Grimes Diaries

 Homemaker of Providence and Spragueville, R.I.

 Diaries, 1931-1945

 Size: 0.25 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 983

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, April 1996

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Helen Clarke was born in Mystic, Connecticut on September 17, 1905, the daughter of Asa H. and Alice B. (Hill) Clarke. She married Dorrance H. Grimes (1907-1999) in Mystic on May 26, 1926. He worked as a cost accountant for many years at the Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company. They had no children, resided in Providence, Spragueville and Esmond, Rhode Island, and retired to Florida in 1974. Helen died in 1989; Dorrance Grimes resided in Fort Myers, Florida and died in Groton, Connecticut on March 22 1999..

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Scope and content:

            This collection consists of four diaries kept by Helen Clarke Grimes from 1931 through 1945. The diaries include commentary on family, nature and current events that is alternately poetic and biting. They begin in the midst of the Great Depression, with Helen, Dorrance and Helen's mother living in rented apartments in Providence, first at 86 Larch St. and then at 215 Doyle Avenue. Dorrance, though intermittently employed at Brown and Sharpe, was subject to frequent layoffs (see October 26, 1931 and May 15, 1936) and worked odd jobs to help make ends meet. Mrs. Grimes' deep distaste for President Roosevelt is a recurring theme throughout the diaries. She was interested in genealogy, and frequently attended meetings of the Roger Williams Family Association and the Daughters of the American Revolution; on April 16, 1936 she describes a visit to the Rhode Island Historical Society.

            The later diaries describe her experience in Spragueville, a rural suburb in the northern part of Rhode Island, during the second World War. The entry for December 7, 1941 gives three densely written pages of narrative, recorded every half hour as the awful news from Pearl Harbor came over the radio.

            In addition to the four complete diaries, there are two excerpts copied from earlier diaries. One covers January 1 through 10, 1920, written at the age of 14. The other describes the day she and Dorrance were married, on May 29, 1926.

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            The copied excerpts were donated by Dorrance H. Grimes in 1991, and accessioned in 1994. The diaries were donated by Mr. Grimes in 1996.

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Processing note:

            Throughout the diaries, Mrs. Grimes taped or glued photographs, newspaper clippings and other memorabilia. No effort has been made to remove these, but those items already loose have been pulled out and placed in folders. These include a few letters, photographs and ephemeral material.

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Volume 1. Diary, January 1, 1931 to September 1, 1940

Volume 2. Diary, September 11, 1940 to December 31, 1941

Volume 3. Diary, January 1, 1942 to December 30, 1942

Volume 4. Diary, January 1, 1943 to December 25, 1945

Folder 1. Diary pages, photocopied, 1920-1936 (selected)

Folder 2. Correspondence, 1942-1944

Folder 3. Photographs, 1941-1944

Folder 4. Miscellaneous items removed from diaries, 1941-1945

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Brown & Sharpe Manufacturing Company

Diaries - 1931-1945

Grimes, Dorrance H. (1907-1999)

Mystic, Conn. - History

Spragueville, R.I. - History

United States - History - 1933-1945

World War, 1939-1945 - War Work - United States - Rhode Island

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