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Phoebe George Bradford diaries

Identifier: MS 1077


This collection consists of photocopies from sections of the diaries of Phoebe George Bradford (1794-1840), a native of Cecil County, Maryland, and resident of Wilmington, Delaware. The diaries contain descriptions of social doings and daily activities, opinions on family matters and religion, and occasional references to national matters and local happenings.


  • 1832-1839


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

Phoebe George Bradford was born on April 26, 1794 at Mount Harmon Plantation on the Sassafras River near Earleville, Maryland. She was the daughter of Sidney George, Jr. and Mary Louttit George. After Phoebe's father died in 1806, she moved to Wilmington, Delaware with her mother.

On May 17, 1817, Phoebe married Moses Bradford (1788-1874). At the time of their marriage, Bradford was editor of the Delaware Gazette. The couple resided at Middle Neck plantation in Cecil County, Maryland until 1824, when they returned to Wilmington where Moses became the editor of the Delaware State Journal. Moses later managed the Maryland estates from the couple's home in Wilmington. While living in Wilmington, Phoebe was active in the social and church scenes. While she attended a variety of churches on a regular basis, she considered Trinity Lutheran Church at Fifth and King Streets her spiritual home. She was active in many civic and church societies. Because of her family's economic status and her husband's political status, Phoebe was an active Wilmington socialite with connections to the area's most prominent families.

After many years leasing a home just outside of downtown Wilmington, in 1838 the Bradford's constructed a large stone mansion at Eleventh and Washington Streets. Phoebe George Bradford and Moses Bradford had four children: Julius (died in infancy), Sidney George (1817-1849), Edward Green (1819-1884), and Julius (b. 1829). Phoebe died suddenly on February 13, 1840 while on a shopping trip in Wilmington.


1.25 Linear Feet (3 full Hollinger boxes)

Language of Materials


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Mrs. Harry Clark Boden IV, September 1964 and September 1969.

Existence and Location of Originals

The original Phoebe George Bradford diaries are located at the Delaware Historical Society in Wilmington, Delaware.


Wilson, W. Emerson, ed. "Phoebe George Bradford Diaries." Delaware History 16 (1974-75):1-21; 132-151; 244-268; 337-357.

"Phoebe George Bradford Diaries, 1832-1839." Delaware Historical Society. Accessed September 26, 2019.

Materials Specific Details

The photocopies in this collection were made in 1964 and 1969 of a typescript of the diary. The original diaries are in the Historical Society of Delaware. The typed transcripts are in the Eleutherian Mills Historical Library in Wilmington, Delaware.

Scope and Contents

The diaries of Phoebe George Bradford detail the life of a wealthy Wilmington, Del. woman active in community and church affairs, charitable organizations, and the local social scene.

The diaries, covering a span of around seven years, document Bradford's thoughts on religion, raising and educating her sons, and the activities of friends and family. The diaries also document her relationship with her prominent husband, Moses Bradford (whom she refers to as B. in the diaries) and her attendance at social events such as weddings, funerals, parties, and political gatherings in the Wilmington area and beyond. Because of her social and economic standing the community, Bradford was friends with and mingled with the most prominent families in Delaware, Maryland, and Philadelphia, many of which are documented in her diaries.

When the family built and moved into their new house at 11th and Washington Streets in Wilmington, Del. Phoebe took a special interest in decorating and planning the garden. Many of the entries from 1838 to 1839 reference her occupation with interior decorating and gardening. Her diaries abruptly end in May, 1839. It appears Phoebe did not keep any more diaries after these last entries, and she died a short time later.

The diaries also mention the cholera epidemics in Wilmington in the 1830s and the efforts made by Dr. William Gibbons to treat its victims. Dr. Gibbons frequently appears throughout the diaries as a close family friend.

This collection of diaries provides researchers with a unique and detailed woman's perspective on upper-class life in the mid-Atlantic region in early 19th century. This collection does not contain volumes 3 and 21.

Guide to the Phoebe George Bradford diaries
Under Revision
Melinda K. Friend
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2019-09-26: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States