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.