|Columbia University Archives|
At a Glance
The Margaret Kimmel travel diary recounts her struggle, and that of other American tourists, to return to the US as Germany launched its attack on Poland on September 1, 1939. Written mostly in pencil, the leather-bound, pocket-sized diary includes entries related to her everyday affairs (sights, meals, weather), the growing signs of war, and the complicated logistics for the return to New York. It includes an address book in the back with the names of Kimmel's new acquientances and, for many, how much she had borrowed and had to repay upon her return.
Using the Collection
Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Restrictions on Access
There are no restrictions on this collection.
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.
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.
About the Finding Aid / Processing Information
Columbia University Libraries, Rare Book and Manuscript Library
History / Biographical Note
Biographical / Historical
Born in Huntington, Indiana, in 1881, Margaret Kimmel received an AM in 1918 from Columbia University and she worked at the Columbia University Libraries from 1924 to 1948, both in the Political Science and in the Philosophy Library. She was an active member of the Friends of Columbia Libraries and of the Women's Faculty Club. Starting in 1930, Kimmel would travel to Europe at the end of every summer. In August 1939, Kimmel boarded the SS Bremen on what would be the ship's last departure with passengers from New York. From Bremen, this experienced traveler took a train to Bologna to start her holiday trip but quickly noted that there were no tourists in Italy and "none at all in Germany. All afraid of war." She visited Ravenna, Florence, Siena and Milan. With growing tensions and limited information, she was adviced to go to Paris but she continued on her journey to Bellagio and Lake Como. Seeing increasing troop movements and refugees crowding trains, Kimmel and the other stranded tourists traveled through the south of France until she was able to board a ship back to the US. On board the SS Shawnee departing from Le Verdum, France, Kimmel arrived back in New York on October 5, 1939.