R.T.W. Duke, Jr. lived a well documented life. In addition to maintaining a vast personal and professional correspondence, publishing poems, and recording the memories of a long life in his Recollections, Duke also kept a regular diary. Preserved in Alderman Library’s Special Collections Department are forty-seven of Duke’s annual diaries, from 1879-1926; only the diary for 1893 is missing. Duke evidently took great delight in the ritual of writing down his daily experiences, for he trusted only the finest leather volumes with his memories and carefully labeled the cover and binding of each book with the year of its contents. Though he altered the format of his entries over the years, Duke typically commented on the weather, his expenditures, travel plans, and social appointments.
Duke’s entry for October 1, 1884, the day on which he married Edith Ridgeway Slaughter, reveals the charm and utility of his diaries. Concise and factual, like most of the entries, it includes much of interest about Duke personally and about his times generally. In this case, the personal information is his enumeration of the bridal party, the general information the schedule of fees associated with the groom’s participation in the event.
Eventually, the library hopes to make all of Duke’s diaries available online. To view digital images for a particular year, follow the links below: