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COLLECTION Identifier: A/M824

Diary of Selma Muller Moore, 1919-1922


Diary kept by Selma Muller Moore during estrangement and divorce from her husband. Diary continues for two years after the divorce. A transcript is also included.


  • Creation: 1919-1922


Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Selma Muller Moore is held by Katrina M. Smathers. Upon her death, copyright will descend to her daughter, Mary Smathers. Copyright in other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns.

Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.


4 folders

The collection consists of a handwritten diary kept by Selma Muller Moore during the dissolution of her marriage. She describes her feelings about her husband's love for other women; his guilty and suicidal feelings as well as his apparent fear of going insane if he remained with his family; her own depression; conflicts over children and property in the process of coming to a settlement; and the responses of family and friends. She also observes that her expectations of marriage differed widely from her husband's, noting that her ideal was "to be the most perfect little housekeeper and homemaker" while he wanted her to share his interest in nature and wildlife and accompany him on his trips to the woods, leaving the housework to servants. She also describes her husband's early love for his cousin and how he felt the collapse of this youthful romance blighted his life. His renewed love for this cousin, who he ultimately married, as well as his earlier infatuation with Moore's sister, are recurrent themes throughout the diary, as is the scandal of divorce. She notes, "It is so humiliating to be left by one's husband. I just feel as if I must withdraw to some lonely spot or some sin stricken spot with my children where we can grow to give out a radiant light to others whose lives are darker than ours." Her conflicted feelings towards her husband are also recorded, with her noting "I look at Robert sometimes and am simply lost to know what to think of him." On a bitter yet humorous note, she writes, "I feel I must make hideous faces at him whenever I get a glimpse of his long lean angular figure." She also writes about reliance on her religious faith although this wavered at times. Robert attempted unsuccessfully to bring a divorce suit against her in 1919, alleging jealous outbursts on her part as one of the reasons. This case was dismissed in late 1919 and Moore writes, "I am not feeling as Christian-like and forgiving as I ought to--I just wish I could rise to a higher spiritual level. I feel so very much like a person would--who is NOT filled with the spirit of Christ." The diary concludes with Moore's discovery that Robert has married Margaret. A typed transcript is also included. She also notes that if she could live her life over again she would be a missionary.

Moore wrote her diary entries on loose sheets of paper, rather than in a bound volume. The first three folders of the collection contain these pages, while the final folder consists of a typed transcript of the entire diary. The transcript includes some biographical information about the Moore family.


Selma Muller Moore was born on February 23, 1882, in or near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She married Robert Thomas Moore in 1903; they had two children, Ferris and Karlene. They lived in Haddonfield, New Jersey, and wintered in Florida and summered in Maine. Robert Moore studied birds and other animals and wrote poetry. In 1919, Robert Moore informed Selma that he no longer wished to be married to her and that his feelings for his cousin Margaret, with whom he had a romance before their marriage, had resurfaced. In September 1920 they were divorced. He married Anne Beegle Hill in 1921 and, following another divorce, his cousin Margaret Cleaves Austin in 1922. Selma Muller Moore died in 1935.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 2003-M79

The diary of Selma Muller Moore was given to the Schlesinger Library by her granddaughter, Katrina M. Smathers, in 2003 and 2004.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital Surrogates of the items in this collection are available through the Adam Matthew online database Gender: Identity and Social Change (Access restricted to subscribing institutions).

Processing Information

Processed: July 2003

By: Anne Engelhart

Updated and additional description added: February 2021

By: Susan Earle

The Schlesinger Library attempts to provide a basic level of preservation and access for all collections, and does more extensive processing of higher priority collections as time and resources permit.  Finding aids may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Moore, Selma Muller, 1882-1935. Diary of Selma Muller Moore, 1919-1922: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description
Processing of this collection was made possible by the Carl & Lily Pforzheimer Fund, Pforzheimer Fund for the Schlesinger Library, Sybil Shainwald Fund at the Schlesinger Library, and Class of 1955 Manuscript Processing Fund.

Repository Details

Part of the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe Institute Repository

The preeminent research library on the history of women in the United States, the Schlesinger Library documents women's lives from the past and present for the future. In addition to its traditional strengths in the history of feminisms, women’s health, and women’s activism, the Schlesinger collections document the intersectional workings of race and ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and class in American history.

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