This collection includes 43 original, bound, handwritten volumes of Joshua Baily’s personal diaries, spanning the majority of his adult life. Baily began keeping diaries at the age of nineteen and continued to write daily entries throughout his life, though diaries for the years 1857-1878 are missing.
As a young man, Baily was very involved in the Philadelphia community, and many of his early entries describe his attendance at both religious and secular lectures, and his attendance at meetings for various societies, including: the Philadelphia Historical Society, the Eromathean society, the Pennsylvania Prison Society, which advocated for the health and safety of prisoner and prison reform, The Philadelphia Society for Employment and Instruction of the Poor, and the Moyamensing House of Industry, two organizations that worked to train the poor, and particularly immigrants, to enter the work force.
In later entries, Baily is largely concerned with temperance efforts and prohibition, and city government. In his old age, Baily’s focus shifts to news of his family, and he increasingly records international affairs and political or military events, particularly in the years leading up to WWI.
Two volumes, for the years 1879 and 1880, are the diaries of Joshua Baily’s wife, Theodate Lang Baily. Theodate’s diaries largely focus on social calls and family news, as well as descriptions of her husband and children, and their health.