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COLLECTION Identifier: MC 354

Diaries of Margaret Harding Tileston Edsall, 1878-1912


Diaries of Margaret Harding Tileston Edsall, homemaker, mother, and traveler.


  • Creation: 1878-1912

Language of Materials

Materials in English.

Access Restrictions:

Access. Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Margaret Harding Tileston Edsall is held by the President and Fellows of Harvard College for the Schlesinger Library. 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.


.83 linear feet (2 file boxes)

The first folder contains summaries of the contents of the diaries prepared by Schlesinger Library volunteer Adelaide Kennedy, one of the processors of the collection.

The diaries begin in 1878 and continue until Margaret Harding Tileston Edsall's death in 1912, with gaps in 1879-1880 and 1906. The daily entries record household activities, appointments, correspondence, and weather conditions. At the end of each year, Edsall summarizes the year's significant events, and lists the books she has read. The 1892-1895 diaries record Edsall's academic progress at Radcliffe. In 1896 and 1899 she describes her travels in England, France and Italy. Margaret Edsall marries David Linn Edsall in 1899; they settle in Philadelphia. During 1900 and 1901, Edsall adjusts to her new duties and is often depressed. The Edsalls travel in Italy, Germany and Austria in the summer of 1901. After their first son is born in 1902, the diaries focus on the health and development of the children. The 1911 move to Boston is exhausting, and the children become sick. As Edsall nurses them back to health, she contracts pneumonia and dies in November.


Margaret Harding (Tileston) Edsall was born in Salem, Massachusetts, on November 1, 1867, the second of seven children of John Boies Tileston (Harvard '55) and Mary Wilder (Foote) Tileston, and a niece of the musician and composer Arthur Foote. The Tilestons lived on a farm in Concord until Edsall was 15. Among the schools Edsall attended were Prospect Hill in Greenfield (1881-1882), Salem High (1882-1885), Miss Ireland's (1885-1887), and Miss Hall's Kindergarten School (1887-1889). In 1892, at the age of 25, Edsall entered Radcliffe (then still the Harvard Annex); she completed her course requirements in three years to finish with a B.A. magna cum laude. Following commencement, Edsall went abroad for eight months, the first of several such journeys. Upon her return in 1896, Edsall was hired as a teacher at a school in Philadelphia run by the sister of Agnes Irwin, dean at Radcliffe. In Philadelphia, Margaret Edsall met David Linn Edsall, a physician and biomedical researcher at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, whom she married in 1899. The Edsalls had three children: John Tileston (1902- ), Richard Linn (1905-1967), and Geoffrey (1908-1980). The family lived in Philadelphia until 1911, when Dr. Edsall was appointed the Jackson Professor of Clinical Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital. Margaret Edsall died of pneumonia on November 19 of the following year.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number: 82-M147

The diaries of Margaret Harding (Tileston) Edsall were given to the Schlesinger Library in July 1982 by her son, John Tileston Edsall.


  1. Box 1: 1-18
  2. Box 2: 19v-46v

Processing Information

Processed: October 1984

By: Adelaide Kennedy and Elizabeth Wang

Edsall, Margaret Tileston, 1867-1912. Diaries of Margaret Harding Tileston Edsall, 1878-1912: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
Language of description

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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