Morris, Clara, 1848-1925. Diaries of Clara Morris, 1867-1924: A Finding Aid
Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe
Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Location: Collection stored off site: researchers must request access 36 hours before use.
Call No.: A-168
Repository: Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Radcliffe
Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
Creator: Clara Morris, 1848-1925
Title: Diaries of Clara Morris, 1867-1924
Quantity: .83 linear feet (2 file boxes)
Language of materials: Materials in English.
Abstract: Diaries, etc., of Clara Morris, actress and author.
Accession number: 70-2
The papers of Clara Morris were deposited with the Schlesinger Library in October
1969 by Mr. and Mrs. George MacAdam.
Processed: March 1971
Access. Closed; use microfilm: M-59, reels 977-981, no. M20.
Copyright. Copyright in the papers created by Clara Morris as well as copyright in
other papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
Clara Morris Diaries, 1867-1924; item description, dates. A-168, folder #. Schlesinger
Library, Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
Clara Morris was born in Toronto, Canada on March 17, 1848. She and her mother fled
to Ohio later that same year when her father was discovered as a bigamist. With him
they had left another daughter whom Clara later tried desperately to find.
When the diaries begin, Clara Morris has already started her acting career. She had
some time earlier boarded with a family named Hefty to whom she occasionally sent
money. They had lost their boarding house and were left penniless.
She married Frederick C. Harriott on November 30, 1874 and supported him from then
until he started acting with her in 1892. Her mother lived with them in their first
home, the Pines, in New York and in later homes in Fair Lawn, Whitestone, and Colonial
Heights, New York. Most of the money she earned from acting was spent for the support
of others - her mother, her husband, the Heftys and her many pets.
Morris constantly suffered ill health partly due to an injury to her spine in childhood.
On several occasions she was forced to miss rehearsals and performances. Usually upon
arrival in a new town it was necessary to procure a doctor immediately. Her eyesight
also bothered her and she went partially blind from 1910 until 1914. The only entries
from this period are four in 1911. In 1914 she regained her sight.
She played several different fund benefits in the 1880's including those for the widow
of a Yonkers police sergeant, the Custer Memorial Monument, and Edgar Allan and Virginia
Clemm Poe's graves. She continued her acting career until 1905 after which she only
made small appearances in variety shows, and gave talks and lectures. After her retirement
her days were spent painting, writing, knitting, sewing, embroidering, reading, taking
and giving French, Spanish and Italian lessons, and playing the guitar.
As of 1895 she had already begun to make money by writing and selling short stories
and articles. In addition to these she wrote three books: Little Jim Crow, 1894, The Silent Singer, 1898, and Life on the Stage, 1901. Her husband died May 29, 1914 and her mother August 30, 1917. When she was
left alone, she found it necessary to take in boarders to supplement the money she
received for writing. She continued her writing until her death on November 20, 1925.
The Clara Morris diaries cover the period from 1867 to 1924 and discusses her career
on the stage, her writings, current events, and her personal life. An address book
and date book of Frederick C. Harriott are also included. The presence of a "+" on
a diary page means Morris took a drug by hypodermic that day.
- Box 1: Volumes 1-27
- Box 2: Volumes 28-56.
- 1. Clara Morris date book with Spanish phrases and instructions for various card games.
No daily entries.
- 2. Clara Morris social calendar with lists of plays and books, Spanish phrases and a
recipe for Pop-Overs.
- 3. Clara Morris diary, 1867-1868. Mentions many letters she writes to friends. Writes
prose in back of diary. Has regular rehearsals and performances with group in Ohio.
Embroiders in spare time. Notes inserted in back cover of book.
- 4. Clara Morris diary, 1869. Marks twenty-first birthday. Acts and sews. Records expenses
on last pages.
- 5. Clara Morris diary, 1872. Sails to London in mid-summer for tour of England. Makes
comparison of New Yorkers and Philadelphians. Begins dating future husband.
- 6. Clara Morris diary, 1873. Acts and records salary for performances. Hears lecture
given by Henry Ward Beecher. Has trouble with manager about contract. Takes music
and drawing lessons. Performs in plays that she is later to be famous for.
- 7. Clara Morris diary, 1874. Writes about first performing tour of cities outside Ohio.
Again visits Europe. Takes music and French lessons. Marries Frederick C. Harriott.
Lists plays, items purchased, and addresses in back. Newsclippings and other slips
of paper in back pocket.
- 8. Clara Morris diary, 1876. Attends riding school. Forbidden by doctor to act for a
time because of bad spine. Mentions the killing of Custer and his men.
- 9. Clara Morris diary, 1877. Complains about expenses of husband. Lists salaries and
expenses in back. Writes prose on last page.
- 10. Clara Morris diary, 1879-1880. Lists stage properties, addresses, and writes prose
- 11. Clara Morris diary, 1880-1881. Comments on plays she performed in: "Alixe", "L'Article
- 12. Clara Morris diary, 1881. Few entries. More illness and problems with husband. Does
- 13. Clara Morris diary, 1882. Lists of dates of locations visited in front. Receives correspondence
from Oscar Wilde. Discusses conviction of Garfield's assasin. Quips and quotes on
- 14. Clara Morris diary, 1883. Encounters husband's mistress. Lists several color combinations
for art work. Lists plays and characters.
- 15. Clara Morris diary, 1884. Newsclipping seemingly from English newspaper. Excerpt from
speech by Governor Waller of Connecticut. Miscellaneous comments inside back cover
and facing page.
- 16. Clara Morris diary, 1885. Art notes, color chart, record of expenses. Horse-back riding.
- 17. Clara Morris diary, 1886. More art notes and color charts along with regular comments
on plays and performers.
- 18. Clara Morris diary, 1887. Returns to her birthplace, Toronto, while on a performing
tour of the Northeast. Writes about her gardening activities.
- 19. Clara Morris diary, 1888. Extended acting tour to several cities. Comments on news
items such as court appointments and obituaries. Suffers with spinal attacks.
- 20. Clara Morris diary, 1889. Continues her painting. Tours the South doing plays for
which she is famous.
- 21. Clara Morris diary, 1890. Tours the South and West. Involved in growing small potted
- 22. Clara Morris diary, 1891. Tours several cities in the Mid-west and East. Mentions
father, La Montagne, and sister, Eliza Burt. (Note inside volume explains.) Receives
notice of the death of a friend, Donn Piatt. Lists Christmas gifts, addresses, and
casts of plays.
- 23. Clara Morris diary, 1892. Tour of largest number of cities recorded. Husband works
for the first time by acting with her.
- 24. Clara Morris diary, 1893. Comments on gardening and pets. Complains greatly about
legs, knees, ankles and eyes. Again lists gifts and casts of plays. Writes quips and
quotes and short poem in back.
- 25. Clara Morris diary, 1894. Marks her eighteenth year of acting in "L'Article 47". Keeps
account of people who come backstage. Is christened on October 14. Has more varied
attacks. Wrote Little Jim Crow.
- 26. Clara Morris diary, 1895. Writes various stories. Notes the outcome of the Oscar Wilde
case. Is confirmed in church April 28. Tries to form a company. Notes death of Dumas.
- 27. Clara Morris diary, 1896. Notes deaths of friends and famous people including Harriet
Beecher Stowe. Takes carriage rides and embroiders.
- 28. Clara Morris diary, 1897. Comments on war in Greece and Turkey. Tours with plays and
- 29. Clara Morris diary, 1898. Few entries. Long, delirious entries in her hand. A few
short entries in her husband's hand.
- 30. Clara Morris diary, 1898. Writes second book, The Silent Singer, and articles. Participates in two tours.
- 31. Clara Morris diary, 1899. Writes more articles. Has more physical ailments, but remains
- 32. Clara Morris diary, 1900. Paints, writes a play, and acts. Swelling of entire body
makes her an invalid. Comments on current wars and trials. Suffers abuse from husband.
- 33. Clara Morris diary, 1901. Writes articles including one on Custer. Travels in United
States and Canada. Comments on deaths of Queen Victoria and other notables.
- 34. Clara Morris diary, 1902. Year of numerous turn-overs in her household staff. Tours
with acting troupe.
- 35. Clara Morris diary, 1903. Bewails marriage to her husband. Comments on newspaper accounts
of multi-death accidents. Tours with plays.
- 36. Clara Morris diary, 1904. Clipping in front about an opening night. Writes articles.
Mentions Russo-Japanese War, and elections. Tours.
- 37. Clara Morris diary, 1905. Makes tours of the South.
- 38. Clara Morris diary, 1906. Writes articles. Testifies in Bertha Claiche trial. Acts
- 39. Clara Morris diary, 1907. Writes articles. Covers a trial. Comments on personal matters
and such public matters as trials, disasters, foreign royalties' marriage, births,
deaths, and elections.
- 40. Clara Morris diary, 1908. Writes various articles including ones on vampires and insanity.
- 41. Clara Morris diary, 1909. Articles this year include one more personal about the greatest
influence on her life and one about the Peary and Cook North Pole expedition. Receives
financial aid from a charity organization. Recipes and snatches of prose inter-no.
Dispersed throughout diary.
- 42. Clara Morris diary, 1911. Only 4 entries: One on her birthday and three about a July
- 43. Clara Morris diary, 1914. Reflects on events of past year: Husband and mother both
stricken with illness. Distressed by death of husband. Comments on war and writes
articles about different aspects of it.
- 44. Clara Morris diary, 1915. Writes more domestic articles and articles concerning war.
Mentions the death of Booker T. Washington.
- 45. Clara Morris diary, 1916. Haggles over film rights to some of her short stories and
writes more articles. Laments and complains to her dead husband about how she misses
- 46. Clara Morris diary, 1917. Comments frequently on state of war, especially America's
recent involvement. Notes contributions to Suffrage movement and Anti-Vivisectionists.
- 47. Clara Morris diary, 1918. Notes deaths of John L. Sullivan, and members of the Russian
royal family. Writes at great length about the War and its end. Tutors Spanish and
French, plays guitar, and does handiwork.
- 48. Clara Morris diary, 1919. Comments on Roosevelt's and French Premier's deaths. Writes
articles. Comments on current events: race riots, dirigible voyage across ocean and
actors' strike. Reads voluminously.
- 49. Clara Morris diary, 1920. Writes articles. Comments on some after-effects of World
War I, Wall Street tragedy, theatrical affairs, and Presidential election.
- 50. Clara Morris diary, 1921. Writes about change of presidents, Woodrow Wilson in particular.
- 51. Clara Morris diary, 1922. Writes articles.
- 52. Clara Morris diary, 1923. Notes sudden death of President Harding and Yokohama earthquake.
Continues to write articles. Teaches knitting, crocheting, and tatting.
- 53. Clara Morris diary, 1924. Notes death of Woodrow Wilson. Writes articles including
one on tatting. Is honoured with Clara Morris Night at the Fifth Avenue Theatre.
- 54. Clara Morris diary. Miscellaneous entries from years 1875, 1877-1879, 1881, 1882,
- 55. Frederick C. Harriott's address book, n.d.
- 56. Frederick C. Harriott's date book, 1889.
American literature--19th century
Husband and wife
Women--Health and hygiene
World War, 1914-1918