OCTOBER 21, 1938
CHICAGO, Thursday—We had such a short time in Quincy, Illinois, yesterday, that I saw very little of the city which has, I believe, some very interesting old houses and much early history that would be fascinating to study. We left Quincy in the evening and were back in Chicago this morning. The NYA director at Quincy came to tell me of a resident girl's project which had just started, but I could not even see that.
Mrs. Cotsworth and Mrs. Flynn kindly asked an extremely interesting woman, Miss Harriet Vittum, head of Northwestern University Settlement, to have breakfast with us this morning. She brought me a letter from a group of one of her girls' clubs which welcomed me to Chicago because of my interest in young girls. I only wish that my interest, which is very genuine, could translate itself into something as valuable as the work which Miss Vittum is actually doing.
After she left us, we drove up to the Chicago Historical Society. This, I am told, was started to preserve things of historical interest to Chicago, but has broadened into being a museum of American history. The exhibits are intriguingly arranged to show different periods of our history. As is natural in Illinois, this museum has a wonderful collection of things which relate to Abraham Lincoln. The Healy portrait seemed to me particularly fine, and the director of the museum told us that Robert Todd Lincoln considered it the best likeness of his father.
I particularly liked the head done by Gutzon Borglum, a strong and massive head, with a mouth which always seems to me very sensitive. I am inclined to think that Massey's interpretation of Lincoln's character in the new play; "Abe Lincoln in Illinois," is probably correct. It was a complicated personality, often at war with itself.
I found the reproduction of the Lincoln parlor in Springfield and the reproduction of the room in which he died exceptionally interesting. We were told that the dimensions of the cabin in which he was born and the room in which he died were identical, so at the beginning and end of his life he was in touch with bare simplicity. I think this phase of life was never out of his mind, even in his moments of greatest success and glory.
We also saw Mrs. Thorne's miniature rooms, a triumph of delicate art and most interesting to the student of different periods of decoration and furniture.
A prize winning group from the sales force of a packing company were going through the museum. They come from all over the country and I could not help thinking what a tremendous amount of history they would carry away after a morning spent in this environment.
We are back on the train and leave shortly for Green Bay, Wisconsin.