Scope and Contents
The Lucy Evans Chew collection consists primarily of 58 volumes of her diaries, in addition to various other papers.
Chew wrote in her diary almost every day from 1920-1967 with entries varying in length from several lines to five or six pages. Individual volumes can span several months or a year or two. Chew’s diaries are full of day-to-day commentary. She often discussed the books she and her husband were reading, movies, plays, concerts, and restaurants she attended. She also discussed household chores, clothing, entertaining friends, events at Bryn Mawr, the food she prepared, her gardens, and shopping trips within Bryn Mawr, Philadelphia and the surrounding area. The Chews’ summer cross-country road trips and visits to family in New York and Maryland are also described extensively. Chew often noted expenses, presents given and received, recipes, addresses, and to-do lists on the inside covers of her diaries.
Chew was widely traveled. She kept detailed travel notes of what she saw, especially the art and architecture, and people she and her husband met while abroad. They traveled throughout Europe, spending time in London, Paris, Switzerland, Rome, Cairo, Athens, in addition to passing through other parts of the continent, the USSR, and the Middle East.
Samuel Chew’s work is another central focus of the diaries. Chew wrote about his book reviews, published articles, and books in her diaries. His work concerned several nineteenth-century authors, Christian-Islamic relations, and other related topics in literature.
During World War II, Chew diligently recorded the news while she was in Europe and at home. She related stories from the radio and commented how the war was affecting the lives of those close to her, whether they were in the United States or Europe. Additionally, she discussed her nephew’s experience in combat. Chew’s tendency to supplement her writings with news clippings, letters, programs, magazine articles etc. increased as a result of WWII. Her early diaries were written in a care free, chatty tone, but as the years go by, especially during the Depression and WWII, her writing became more serious and thoughtful.
Her diaries contain extensive commentary on both her social life and national and international news. Chew’s anecdotes cover a wide range of subjects. During Prohibition, for example, she discusses making her own wine and the friends who disapproved of her venture. As space travel entered the realm of possibility, she expressed her disdain for such a useless project, a position she maintained throughout her life. She often recounted conversations, made witty quips, and jokingly lamented the monotony of her day-to-day entries for the future reader.
In addition to the diaries, the Lucy Evans Chew Collection contains three boxes of other materials. Box 1 of the collection contains the diary reading guide which lists important people and places featured in the diaries and which was written by Chew's niece. It also includes numerous notebooks with class notes, exam results, lists, etc. Box 2 contains Chew's diplomas and her Shipley School yearbook. Box 3 contains small yearly diaries that range from account books, to-do lists, and language notes to supplementary diaries with more concise entries.
In addition to the Lucy Evans Chew Collection, there is a Samuel Chew Collection that currently has no finding aid, but contains scrapbooks of his book reviews, notes and manuscripts from his books and articles, some of Lucy's school work, slides, personal library card catalogues, twenty of his small diaries, various correspondence, and miscellaneous books and journals.
Biographical / Historical
Lucy Evans Chew was born on December 13th, 1895, in Springfield, Illinois. In 1905 her mother married Rudulph Evans, sculptor of the Jefferson Memorial statue. She graduated from Ossining High School in New York in 1912 and from the Shipley School for Girls in 1914. She stated that before graduating, she attended over twenty other schools.
She entered Bryn Mawr as a member of the class of 1918 and studied English, Spanish, and Italian. During college, she was on the editorial board of The Lantern, president of the French Club, business manager of the Glee Club and the class editor for the Alumnae Bulletin for five years after graduation. She was also involved in the war effort, working as a clerk and office worker during her college years. She married Samuel Claggett Chew, Professor of English at Bryn Mawr College, soon after her graduation in 1918.
Samuel Chew was born in 1888 in Maryland. He became a professor of English at Bryn Mawr after graduating from Johns Hopkins in 1909 and acquiring his Ph.D. from his alma mater in 1913. He later became chairman of the Bryn Mawr English department, an office he held until his retirement in 1954. After officially retiring, he continued to teach both as a visiting professor in Claremont, CA, and at Bryn Mawr.
They traveled extensively, both during the summer for pleasure and on Samuel Chew's research sabbaticals. They were acquainted with many influential figures of the time, including Thomas Hardy and George Moore. Lucy Evans Chew was very involved in her husband's scholarship. She often helped him with research, and even edited and published his last work after his death on January 15th, 1960.
The couple had no children and lived in close proximity to Bryn Mawr most of their married lives. They were involved in College politics and activities, attending many social events with faculty, staff, and students over the years. They often took time to visit their family and friends. As she grew older, Lucy Evans Chew was donated both her time and money to various charities. She was also interested in reading, gardening, and travel. She died of heart failure on February 27th, 1974, fourteen years after her husband’s death.