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Grace Temple was born in 1878. She married Archie Mellen in January of 1897, with whom she had five daughters and two sons. Archie worked for his father until 1911 and then worked on Mr. Skinner's poultry farm. In 1939 they bought a house in New Lebanon, New York, moved there in 1940, and set up a garden from which they sold strawberries.
The Grace Temple Mellen Journals primarily concern her experiences as a wife and mother from the time of her marriage in 1897 until her death in 1958. As a new wife, Mellen writes infrequently, fretting about becoming a "better girl" and describing the births of her children-five girls and two boys. As her children grow older, Mellen writes more frequently and discusses the health of her family members and the family's financial situation during the economic depression in the 1930s. She also refers to the time that her husband, Archie C. Mellen, spent in the Clifton Springs Sanitorium in Clifton Springs, New York after he suffered a nervous breakdown. She associated his breakdown with overwork on Joseph A. Skinner's farm in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Mellen mentions her enjoyment of social life in South Hadley, where many of her friends and family also live. She later laments her boredom when she and her husband move to New Lebanon, New York, where her husband raised hens and grew strawberries. The journals also reflect Mellen's reactions to World War II. She discusses her disapproval of United States assistance to Great Britain through the Lend-Lease Program. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, she expresses her continued condemnation of United States participation in a foreign war, stating that the economy at home is not strong enough. She also frequently worries about her sons and grandsons being drafted and about the future of the world. Mellen also consistently comments on aging and her health, anticipating her own death. She emphasizes not wanting to live to be as old as her mother, who died at age ninety-three after many years in the Northampton State Hospital where she suffered from senility. She frequently discusses her mother's illness throughout the journals. The journals also contain a copy of Archie C. Mellen's obituary and a number of Mellen's poems.
Please use the following format when citing materials from this collection:
Grace Mellen Journals, Mount Holyoke, College, Archives and Special Collections, South Hadley, Massachusetts
Grace Temple's journal, which she started on February 6, 1897 when she was 19, describes her wedding just 1O days earlier. She thought 19 was young to be married but she doubted she would ever regret the step although it was not "love at first sight." She continued to write over the next 58 years until Archie's death in November 1955. Sometimes there are several entries in a year, other times there are long gaps. There are no entries at all, for instance, between 1920 and 1927.
The journal is a record of married life - the birth of five girls and then two boys, all but the last born at home. Archie told the doctor after five girls (1907) that if they kept up they would soon have enough to stock a female seminary. Archie first worked for his father on his milk route in South Hadley, then after it was sold in 1911, he ran a poultry farm (1500 chicks in 1928) for Mr. Skinner, a "wonderful man to work for." After boarding with Archie's family for a number of years, they bought a small home and then a few years later, they moved into one of Mr. Skinner's rental houses. Having her own home meant a great deal to Grace; she wrote in 1949 she hoped all her children would be able eventually to own their own homes. Archie worked long hours*and rarely took any time off; his health broke in 1928 and he went to Clifton Springs, New York, to recover. Grace boarded nearby at $25 a week to be near him.
Finally in 1939 Archie resigned from the poultry job and they bought a house in New Lebanon, New York, for $2400 furnished. It needed a lot of repair but by 1940 they were in their own home. Archie tended the garden and his new hen house with 300 chicks, and Grace took tourists, "took in washing", and helped with the strawberry crop; she pedaled 500-600 quarts "all over town!' in July of 1950.
Grace rarely referred to current affairs but she did mention the First War and then there are frequent comments about World War II when some of her grandchildren were in service. Neither she nor Archie voted for FDR in 1944 - Archie thought Roosevelt wanted to be dictator.
Over the span of almost 60 years Grace recorded the ups and downs of married life - the birth, childhood and marriage of her 7 children, the arrival of grandchildren, illnesses, the inevitable heartbreaking disappointments. It was a never-ending struggle to make ends meet through the Great Depression, two major wars, and natural disasters like the Flood of '36 and the hurricane of 1936 or the hailstones which ruined the strawberry crop in 1954.
Archie was content to be at home while Grace always craved a little excitement. Archie was a stern taskmaster about social occasions, but no matter how much Grace complained in her journal about the grind and lonesomeness and her wish for friends and company, she always ended by saying what a good man he was and how very hard he worked. * (i.e. out at 1 a.m. to peddle milk in 1900).
The journal touches Mount Holyoke history in four places. Mr. Skinner, College Trustee and benefactor of the College, was Archie's employer for over 25 years. Claire, the second daughter, worked in the College laundry (May 1918) at $11 week (in the office) and Thelma, the oldest girl, at $9 week. Aileen worked as a college telephone operator before her marriage, sometime around 1927. And Jim, the oldest son, married Elinor Dunnel, member of the Class of 1937, in May of 37.
|June 19, 1871||Archie Mellen is born|
|April 10, 1877 Grace||Temple is born|
|April 9, 1898||Thelma Theresa Mellen is born|
|August 1899||Grace has a stillbirth|
|November 15, 1900||Claire Erna Mellen is born|
|September 27, 1902||Hilda Carmena Mellen is born|
|September 12, 1904||Aileen Mellen is born|
|May 1, 1907||Beatrice May Mellen is born|
|June 14, 1910||James Colister Mellen is born|
|August 26, 1911||George Edward Mellen is born (died October 12, 1911 - age 6 weeks)|
|July 15, 1914||George Temple Mellen is born|
|January 1916||Grace suffers a miscarriage|
|January 27, 1897||Grace Temple (19) marries Archie Mellen (26)|
|February 6, 1897||First entry in Journal|
|January 15, 1910||Archie's mother buried|
|October 1919||Thelma marries Dick Dowd|
|April 1927||George has appendicitis|
|August 6, 1927||Note that Grace's mother is now 72, 2 or 3 months older than father|
|Spring 1928||Aileen (pregnant) is hit by a truck|
|June 22, 1928||Claire has twins|
|June 1928||First mention of Archie's depression|
|September 1928||Archie in Sanatorium (6 weeks) with nervous breakdown|
|October 16, 1928||Thelma has Herbert Sidney|
|July 1928||Aileen has Janice|
|February 23, 1929||Hilda marries Holger Lerche|
|August 20, 1929||Beatrice has Shirley Louise|
|April 12, 1930||Aileen has another girl|
|January 1932||Beatrice diagnosed with TB (2 years in Hosp.)|
|March 1934||Grace has surgery for Gall stones|
|February 29, 1936||George marries Ethel Gravlin|
|February 4, 1936||Aileen has another girl|
|1935||Thelma & Dick move to Limona (near Tampa)|
|March 1936||Grace's father dies at 79|
|May 22, 1937||James Mellen marries Elinor Dunnell|
|August 1939||Thelma's husband in hospital; Gerry's daughter almost dies|
|July 24, 1939||Archie & Grace buy house in New Lebanon|
|November 1942||Aileen's twins born|
|December 1943||Grace's mother to Rest Home (briefly)|
|April 15, 1945||Archie (87) hospitalized with pneumonia|
|May 27, 1946||Grace's mother (89 or 90) to insane Hospital (When Thelma had Gerry, Gerry had 5 grandmothers)|
|January 27, 1947||Grace & Archie's Golden Anniversary (50)|
|January 6, 1947||Jim & Elinor have Elizabeth|
|January 23, 1947||Janice has Daniel Kenneth (she married Floyd Locke)|
|January 1946||Jim's Elinor has a nervous breakdown|
|June 30, 1948||Grace's sister Florence dies of "shock" [stroke]|
|August 1948||Janice & Floyd move to mango|
|April 8, 1949||Grace's mother dies at 93|
|August 1950 [or 51?]||Archie (80) hospitalized- prostate cancer|
|October 28, 1953||Archie's sister Minnie (Mrs. John) Day dies|
|January 1951||Grace & Archie go to Florida|
|August 1951||Archie hospitalized in Tampa|
|Christmas 1957||Grace's sister Maud dies|
|June 1955||Archie's cancer spreads to throat and stomach|
|November 16, 1955||Archie (85) dies [Grace notes Mother 93 at death, Father 83 at death]|
|November (?) 1955||Grace suffers a stroke about the same time Archie dies|
|March 15, 1958||Last dated entry in the Journal|
|April 1958||Last believed entry as Grace states that she is "81 this month"|
By: CR Ludwig
Mount Holyoke College Archives and Special Collections
8 Dwight Hall
50 College St.
South Hadley, MA 01075
Phone: (413) 538-2013
Fax: (413) 538-2370 Email Reference Form: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/lits/library/arch/forms/areq.htm