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At a Glance
This collection is arranged in 12 series.
This collection is made up of the writings and personal files of Charlotte Salisbury. About half of the material relates to Salisbury's published travel diaries. This material includes manuscripts as well as correspondence and clippings related to the books. Another large portion of the collection is made up of Charlotte Salisbury's personal papers, including correspondence between herself and Harrison Salisbury and approximately thirty years of diaries and datebooks recording her everyday activities. Finally, there is some material documenting the career and commemoration of Harrison Salisbury. With a few exceptions, the majority of the material in the collection dates to after the couple was married in 1964.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
This collection is located off-site. You will need to request this material at least three business days in advance to use the collection in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library reading room.
This collection has no restrictions.
Terms Governing Use and Reproduction
Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. The RBML maintains ownership of the physical material only. Copyright remains with the creator and his/her heirs. The responsibility to secure copyright permission rests with the patron.
Identification of specific item; Date (if known); Name of Collection; Box and Folder (if known); Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Columbia University Library.
Ownership and Custodial History
Gift of Charlotte Young Salisbury.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Papers processed Mary Freeman 08/--/2012.
Finding aid written Mary Freeman 08/--/2012.
2012-11-20 File created.
2019-05-20 EAD was imported spring 2019 as part of the ArchivesSpace Phase II migration.
History / Biographical Note
Charlotte Young Salisbury was born in Weston, Massachusetts in 1914. The daughter of prominent Massachusetts politician Benjamin Loring Young, she attended the Winsor School in Boston and the Dobbs School in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Salisbury went on to pursue a modeling career as a "Powers Girl" in the early 1930s. In 1934 she married Allston Boyer, with whom she had her first daughter, Charlotte Boyer Parkinson. Following a divorce five years later, she married her second husband John A. Rand and had three more children: Ellen Rand, Rosina Rand, and Curtis Rand. During World War II she moved around the country following her husband to various army camps.
Charlotte met Harrison Salisbury in 1955 at a talk he gave in Salisbury, Connecticut on his time spent as a New York Times correspondent in Moscow. The two developed a friendship, and they married in 1964 following Charlotte's divorce from John Rand in 1959. Throughout their marriage they kept homes in New York City and in Taconic, Connecticut.
Shortly after their wedding, Charlotte began accompanying Harrison on many of his foreign travel assignments. Although she was not formally trained as a writer, she kept detailed diaries throughout her life, and she was able to use her talents for close observation and description to begin her career as an author. Her first book, Asian Diary (1967) documents her travels with Harrison to the areas surrounding China. The book reflects her strong anti-Vietnam War sentiments as she describes the negative impact the war has had on neighboring countries. Charlotte Salisbury followed up Asian Diary with a series of travel diaries describing subsequent journeys with her husband in the Soviet Union, China, and other parts of Asia. China Diary was particularly notable as one of the first accounts of everyday life and social conditions in Communist China after President Nixon's visit in 1972. The Salisburys' books reached a broad American audience eager to learn about Communist countries. Whereas Harrison's work focused on political and historical intricacies, Charlotte's sensitive but frank impressions captured both her own experiences as a foreign traveler and the character of the daily lives of the people she encountered. In addition to China Diary (1972), she published Russian Diary (1974), China Diary: After Mao (1977), and Tibetan Diary (1980). Charlotte also wrote the text for Sikkim: Mountaintop Kingdom in 1972, collaborating with the photographer Alice Kendall. This book differs from her others as a description of the history, culture, and politics of the tiny country of Sikkim rather than a personal travel account.
Salisbury's writing career culminated in her final book Long March Diary: China Epic, which describes her and Harrison Salisbury's successful attempt to retrace the route of Mao's Long March of 1934 to 1935. This was a remarkable achievement for the aging couple. It was their longest journey yet, and they traveled to areas of interior China that had previously been inaccessible to Americans.
While Harrison Salisbury continued to travel and write up until his death in 1993, Charlotte claimed to prefer a quiet life tending to their house and gardens in Taconic. She continued to keep detailed personal diaries, but she did no more extensive traveling. Charlotte Salisbury died at age ninety-eight on April 25, 2012 in Salisbury, Connecticut.