Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College

Summary Information

Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Creator - aut:
Sharpless, Julia Rouse
Source - dnr:
Stanley, Arthur L. (FHL donor)
Julia Rouse Sharpless Diaries
Date [inclusive]:
1925-2000 with gaps
Physical Description:
.5 Linear Feet, 29 volumes. The early diaries are soft cover pocket notebooks. After 1942, the author used hard-cover commercial appointment books.
Language of the Material:
Mixed Materials [box]:
Box 1
The collection contains personal diaries of Julia M. Rouse Sharpless (1911-2004), a Quaker who attended Friends Boarding School in Barnesville, Ohio, and then Strayer Business College in Washington, DC. A member of the "Eye" Street Meeting, she was active in the cooperative Friends Meeting of Washington and worked in government offices until her retirement in 1969. The diaries and daybooks (with gaps) reflect her schooling and personal life, especially the years before her marriage in 1932 to Wiliam R. Sharpless (1910-2000).

Preferred Citation

[Indicate the cited item or series here], Julia Rouse Sharpless Diaries, RG5/300, Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College

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Biographical / Historical

Julia M. Rouse was born 1911, the daughter of Albert Rouse and Mary E. Hanson, members of Stillwater Monthly Meeting. Her parents had married contrary to discipline in 1904. Mary Hanson was the daughter of Benjamin and Lucinda (Bundy) Hanson. Benjamin Hanson died in 1886, and his widow moved to Virginia. In 1917, Albert and Mary Hanson requested membership for their six children; at the time of Julia's birth, the extended family was living on a farm owned by Lucinda Hanson in Chesterfield County, Virginia. When she was ten, they moved to Silver Spring, Maryland.

Julia attended Friends Boarding School in Barnesville, Ohio, which was a short distance from the Stillwater Meeting House. Her maternal family were long-time members of the Monthly Meeting.

After graduation in 1928, Julia enrolled in Strayer Business School in Washington, DC. She was active in the Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor and the "Eye" Cooperative Meeting. In 1932, she was married under the care of Friends Meeting of Washington to William Raiford Sharpless, son of Joseph Chambers and Sue Ambler (Roberts) Sharpless, of London Grove Monthly Meeting. They had two sons, Joseph and Stephen.

During her long career on Capitol Hill, Julia Sharpless worked for the National Council for the Prevention of War, the Department of the Interior, and the War Department. She worked as executive secretary to U.S. Rep. Alvin O'Konski of Wisconsin until she retired in 1969. After her husband retired in 1970 from the Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone Company, they moved to Florida and enjoyed travel and local organizations. William R. Sharpless died in 2000, and Julia Rouse Sharpless died in 2004.

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Administrative Information

Publication Statement

Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College

500 College Avenue Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081 URL:

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Arthur L. Stanley, nephew of the author. FHL Acc. 2017.010

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Controlled Access Headings

  • Quakers -- Washington (D.C.)
  • Quaker women -- Diaries
  • Stanley, Arthur L. (FHL donor)

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Collection Inventory

Title/Description Instances
Diary #1, 1925-1926

Scope and Contents: Attending school in Barnesville

Diary #7, 1928-05-30-1928-09-24

Scope and Contents: Graduation, then enrolled in Strayer Business School in Washington, DC; Working at telephone company Silver Spring exchange

Diary #8, 1928-09-25-1929-01-03

Scope and Contents: Secretarial school, working, activities

Diary #9, 1928-09-25-1929-01-03

Scope and Contents: Secretarial school, working, activities

Diary #10, 1929-05-17-1929-08-26

Scope and Contents: School, etc. She is active in Young People's Society of Christian Endeavor, an interdenominational youth society

Diary #11, 1929 8 mo 27

Scope and Contents: Visited the School at Barnesville, writes about her studies, active in Christian Endeavor, mentions a dance with a "colored orchestra."

Diary #12, 1929-12-14-1930-04-03

Scope and Contents: Temporary job during vacation, mentions Christian Endeavor, dating Bill, Quarterly Meeting, night school, Taft's funeral

Diary #13, 1930-04-07-1930-07-04

Scope and Contents: Notes attending her first monthly meeting since membership was transferred. They were dDebating approval of Cooperative Friends Meeting for worship.

Diary 14, 1930-07-06-1930-10-10

Scope and Contents: Working, dating Bill Sharpless

Diary #15, 1930-10-11-1930-12-25

Scope and Contents: She notes Mr. Libby's historic trip to Europe. Worships at Eye Meeting, Cooperative Meeting. At work, lradio on international policy meetings, Japanese ambassadors, etc.; bored at work, quarrels with Bill. Active in the All Friends Committee

Diary # 16, 1930-12-26-1931-03-18

Scope and Contents: Active Y.P.B. group, takes a trip to Barnesville

Diary #18, 1931-06-21-1931-09-13

Scope and Contents: Serving on Executive Committee of Washington Young Friends. Engaged to Bill and starts a hope chest.

Diary #32, 1935-06-19-1935-08-29

Scope and Contents: Appendectomy with long convalescence of bed rest. Returned to work August 12 after 6 weeks.

Diary #36, 1936-06-10-1936-11-09

Scope and Contents: Listening to presidential conventions, speeches on radio. Son Joey. Vacations through PA, NY, and Canada. Visited NYC and commented on horrible conditions in the Bowery and Jewish Ghetto.

Diary #37, 1936-08-15-1936-11-09

Scope and Contents: Working as her mother babysits her son. She attended Baltimore Yearly Meeting.

Diary #38, 1936-11-09-1937-01-22

Scope and Contents: Working, her husband at school. Active in Young Friends, spent time visiting children's ward at Freedman's Hospital. Watched inaugural parade. Pages at end of volume are missing

Diary #43, 1938-03-14-1938-06-18

Scope and Contents: Received permanent assignment as Secretary to the Joint Committee. Following three years were not deposited and resume in 1942-1943 as appointment books

Ready Reference Diary, 1942

Scope and Contents: Only entry is list of fruits and vegetables canned in 1942.

Ready Reference Diary, 1943

Scope and Contents: Occasional notes, damaged cover

Ready Reference Diary, 1954

Scope and Contents: Active in Women's Republican Club of Silver Spring. More extensive notes in appointment book.

Daily Reminder, 1965

Scope and Contents: Daily Reminders. Working full-time in DC. Active in Women's Republican Club of Silver Spring. Includes clippings on Club activities

Diary , 1969

Scope and Contents: Attends Inauguration Day with preferred tickets on steps. Active in Republican Women of Capitol Hill, Silver Spring Club. Retirement. Attends Folk life Festival on the Mall

Daily Reminder, 1973

Scope and Contents: Residing in Florida. More extensive daily entries, travel

Daily Reminders, 1982

Scope and Contents: Travel, household notes

Daily Reminder, 1983

Scope and Contents: Travel, household notes

Daily Reminder, 1984

Scope and Contents: Travel, household notes

China Explorer Cruise, 1984

Scope and Contents: Removed from spiral pocket notebook

Daily Reminder, 1988

Scope and Contents: Travel, household, attends Barnesville 60th reunion

One Year Diary, 1971-2000

Scope and Contents: Author used the bound diary to record significant events by calendar day, covering the years 1971 until her husband's death in 2000.