West, Bertha Helen
Manuscript Diary of 16-year-old Bertha Helen West, of Providence, Rhode Island, niece of George M. Pullman, of the Pullman Sleeping Car fame, 1889

12mo, 105 manuscript pp., pocket diary, bound in limp black leather binding with flap and rear pocket, 3 days entries per page, with memorandum, cash accounts, and address sections in rear (only two pages used), entries written in pencil, in legible hand, signed in pencil on front flyleaf “Bertha Helen West.”

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        Bertha Helen West Cooke (1873- aft 1930)


     Bertha Helen West was born 11 February 1873, the daughter of woolen merchant George West and his wife Helen Pullman (1843-1911). Bertha’s mother was the sister of George M. Pullman (1831-1897), an American engineer and industrialist, who designed and manufactured the Pullman sleeping car, which made him extremely wealthy. Bertha had one brother, Stuart P. West, who was later the financial editor of the New York Globe, where he worked for over twenty-five years.


     At the time of this diary, Bertha was living at Providence, Rhode Island, at the Narragansett Hotel. It was the first year the family lived there. She is seemingly well to do and writes daily of going riding, or taking drawing, dancing, and singing lessons, as well as regular trips to New York City to visit her grandmother, and a five-day trip to the White Mountains, where she and her father did some hiking in the day time and dancing at night. Bertha mentions her "Uncle George,” a number of times, that being George M. Pullman, who visited them in Providence regularly while on his way from New York to Boston and vice versa.


     Bertha’s father was a woolen merchant in New York City. He died in 1898. Her mother died in 1911. Bertha was married about 1899 to physician Henry Cooke of Providence, Rhode Island. They made their home in Providence and had several children together. Bertha appears to have died sometime after the 1930 Census was taken.


Sample Quotations

“Mon. Feb 9, 1889. Pleas. – Cloudy

It is my birthday today. I am 16, it don’t seem possible. I had the Society and Julia here this afternoon. Had a lovely time…”


“Saturday. Mar 9, 1889. Pleas.

Took my music and singing this morning. Went to dancing school this afternoon. Helen came with Uncle George this evening, as a surprise to me.”


“Mon. Mar 11, 1889. Pleas.

Went for a walk with Helen, Belle, and Clarence this morning. Uncle George went to Boston this morning and Mama and Emily went this eve.”



“Tues. Mar 12, 1889. Pleas.

Helen and I made candy this morning. Went to N.Y. with Uncle George at six o’clock this eve. He gave me some lovely gold beads, and Helen a diamond pin.”


“Thurs. May 2, 1889.

Went to my drawing this morning I da came and took her music and singing lesson this afternoon. Uncle George and Mamma come home this evening.”


“Fri. May 3, 1889. Cloudy.

Uncle George went to Boston this morning. I am going over to New York. With him and Emily who is going to visit the Randalls. I am going to stay with Auntie.”


“Wed. May 15, 1889.

Went to riding school. Read and took a nap this morning. Went down street with Helen and also saw Uncle George off for Europe on the ‘City of Paris’ this afternoon.”


“Tues. July 16, 1889. Pleas.

This morning Papa and I started (at 8 o’clock) for a trip through the White Mountains. Took dinner at Center Harbor. Took a 28-mile stage drive to West Ossipee where we spent the night.”


“Fri. July 19, 1889. Pleas.

This morning we started to climb Mt. Cannon but didn’t get to the top. We also went to Profile Lake and ‘The Old Man of the Mount’ This afternoon we went to Echo Lake. This evening we danced.”


“Mon. Sept 23, 1889.

I commenced school this morning went into the senior room. Ida came this afternoon. Papa went to New York with Uncle George who was in town this morning.”