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Diary of Emma Cummins Snively Crosier Pauling

 Collection — Box: 1
Identifier: A0059

Content Description

Contains materials created or arranged by Emma Cummins Snively Crosier Pauling including her diary into which newspaper clippings, advertisements, ticket stubs, and other printed materials have been collaged. In the handwritten diary, Emma Cummins Snively Crosier Pauling copies lines of poetry and literature, as well as describes her daily life and work in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania between 1884-1890. The collection includes additional, loose newspaper clippings, personal correspondence, telegraph train order forms, and important personal records, among other printed materials, placed within but not affixed to diary pages. Some pages show traces of later editorial markings, such as notes written in felt-tip marker, ballpoint pen, and pencil.


  • 1842-1870, 1884-1890, 1906, 1936
  • Majority of material found within 1884 - 1890


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The Diary of Emma Cummins Snively Crosier Pauling is owned by the American Folk Art Museum. The collection is subject to all copyright laws, and is dedicated to public use for research, study and scholarship.

Biographical / Historical

Emma Cummins was born in 1848 in Somerset, Pennsylvania, the first daughter of Civil War Union General Robert P. Cummins, who died in the Battle of Gettysburg and was regarded as a hero of the war. At age fourteen, Emma Cummins was married for the first time, to a French-Canadian man named Blacklock, and moved to Canada. The marriage ended quickly, after Cummins sustained abuse from her husband, to the extent that Blacklock’s family paid for Cummins’s return home to Pennsylvania. She was then married to Dr. George Snively, with whom she had one daughter named Hattie and a second daughter who died in early childhood. By 1870, Cummins Snively and her daughter relocated to Utah to join Dr. Snively who had earlier moved west in search of work mining precious metals, land, and fortune. In December 1872 while in Utah, Cummins Snively was hired as a telegrapher by the Western Union Company, a role in which she found success due to the speed and fluidity of her writing and signaling. In the second half of the 19th century, telegraphy in the United States was at its height, following the completion of the first transcontinental telegraph line in 1861. Cummins Snively worked as one of a growing network of women telegraphers stationed in depots along railroad lines, sometimes in quite isolated outposts in unpopulated areas. By 1880, Dr. Snively had passed away and Cummins Snively had married and divorced her third husband, George Crosier, and had again returned to Somerset, Pennsylvania. By 1884, she had returned to Utah, where she first worked as a postmaster and later as a cashier. It is in this period in Utah that Cummins Snively Crosier began to add entries to her diary. In 1893, Cummins Snively Crosier was married for the fourth and final time, to George M. Pauling (1840-1898), a Civil War Veteran. By 1899, poverty-stricken, Cummins Snively Crosier Pauling returned to reside with family in Pennsylvania. She was granted a pension of $12 per month which depended, in large part, on her father’s admiral service during the war. Cummins Snively Crosier Pauling lived the rest of her life in Somerset, Pennsylvania until her death at home with her family at the age of seventy-five in 1923.


1 linear feet (1 flat box) ; 12 x 15 x 3 in.

Language of Materials



This collection comprises a handwritten diary created by Emma Cummins Snively Crosier Pauling in the late 19th century. Emma Cummins Snively Crosier Pauling was born in Pennsylvania in 1848, and after a life spent in the American West and Northeast, died in Pennsylvania in 1923. The diary chronicles Emma Cummins Snively Crosier Pauling’s daily life in Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, and Pennsylvania in the 1880s through 1890. It primarily traces her life during her fourth and final marriage, and beyond her marriage as an independent and creative woman. In addition to being a record of her daily life, the diary appears to have been treated by Emma Cummins Snively Crosier Pauling as a type of scrapbook in which to place newspaper clippings, personal correspondence, printed ephemera, and other records relating to her work as a telegrapher.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Materials are and binding of the diary are fragile, some show more extensive damage. Loose materials are in archival sleeves.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was gifted to the American Folk Art Museum in 1997 by Joanne C. Gargas on behalf of the family of Emma K. Lentz.

Related Materials

A handmade, quilted robe made by Emma Cummins Snively Crosier Pauling was separately accessioned into the American Folk Art Museum’s art collection, accession number 1990.8.1.

Condition Description

Materials are in mostly good condition, with some creases and tears. Binding of the diary is fragile. Some loose materials show more extensive damage. Loose materials are in archival sleeves.

Processing Information

The original arrangement of loose diary pages was retained during processing. Additional loose materials that were once placed as a group between the cover and first page of the diary were removed from the diary and placed into archival sleeves. Original arrangement of these loose materials was retained.

A Guide to the Diary of Emma Cummins Snively Crosier Pauling
Clara Scholtz, Intern.
April 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the American Folk Art Museum Archives Repository

47-29 32nd Place
Long Island City New York 11101 United States
(212) 595-9533