Atwater, Helen Charnley
Manuscript Diary of Helen Charnley Atwater, of New Haven, Connecticut, kept while a student at Radcliffe College, 1901-1902

small quarto, 144 manuscript pages, entries dated 5 May 1901 - 4 October 1902, bound in cloth spine, paper backed boards, entries written in ink and pencil, in a legible hand, paper label on front board reads "The Property of Helen Charnley Atwater, 32 Hawthorn St., Radcliffe College." Both front and rear inside boards also have entries written on them.

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Helen Charnley Atwater (1879-1967)

           Helen Charnley Atwater was born 11 May 1879 at New Haven, Connecticut. She was the daughter of Charles Elmes Atwater (1849-1908), a manufacturer and merchant, and his wife Helen Guion Downes (1852-1915). Charles was the son of iron manufacturer Henry Atwater of Birmingham, Connecticut; his wife the daughter of William E. Downes, a pin manufacturer of Birmingham. Both the Atwater and Downes families dated from the first half of the 17th Century in New Haven, Connecticut.

 

          The diary begins in May of 1901. At this point, Helen is a student at Radcliffe College. She attended Radcliffe between the years 1900-1904, but it does not appear that she received a degree. The diary offers a look at some of the time she spent at Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and places she visited with family when on break. Her father died in 1908 and she continued living with her family.

 

           In 1910, Helen is found living with her widowed mother and her older sister in New Haven, at the family's long time home on Whitney Avenue. Now called the Atwater-Ciampolini House, this historic property was originally purchased by Helen's father Charles in the 1890s and was in the family's hands until after Helen's death in 1967. In 1910, the family had the privilege of not having to work and had the help of two Irish born servants and a nurse living with them. After Helen's mother died in 1915, Helen married Dr. Ettore Ciampolini (1876-1957) in 1922, in New Haven.

 

           Dr. Ciampolini was born on 28 July 1876 at Sienna, Italy. He came to America about 1911 and in May of 1913 it was advertised that "Signor Ettore Ciampolini, of Siena, Italy, was desirous of obtaining pupils in the study of Italian conversation. Ciampolini was stated to be a lecturer for "Circolo Italiano di Boston," an Italian society in Boston and was endorsed by Prof. Geddes of Boston University and by Prof. Grandgent of Harvard College.

 

          One source states that Ciampolini was "Class of 1916 B.U.S.M." (Boston University School of Medicine). Another states he received his undergraduate degree from Boston University in 1916 and his C.P.H. from Harvard in 1919.

 

          He appears to have returned to Italy to serve at a military hospital in Florence, perhaps during WWI, but then returned to America in 1919 and took a position with the Health Center in New Haven, where he was the head of the medical department for Wards 10, 11, and 12 in New Haven until he resigned to pursue graduate studies at Yale in medicine in 1920, receiving his Ph.D. in 1923.

 

           Ciampolini died on 27 June 1957. The Ettore Ciampolini Medical Scholarship Fund at Yale was set up by Helen to honor her husband. The award gives funds to a deserving male student who is in need of funds to help pay his tuition.

 

          Helen C. A. Ciampolini died on 16 September 1967 and was buried with her husband at Glenwood Cemetery, in Littleton, Grafton County, New Hampshire.

 

           Sample Quotations from Diary:

 

           The diary recounts Atwater's school life at Radcliffe from 5 May 1901 to the end of the semester, her summer vacation with her family, returned to school in the fall, the next summer vacation, and the diary ends with the beginning of the fall semester in October 1902. The entries discuss school, family, friends, and her social life.

 

          "May 23 [1901]

           Called on Mrs. Cook on the Monday 13. She was excused. Gordon came around for a few minutes in the evening to ask me to go to a German play the next night. Tuesday Sue, Phe and [Bert] came over in the morning to see my room and the college buildings. Took them down to the tank and was informed we were not supposed to take visitors down there. Sat around in my room and talked and then saw them on the car for home. Walked into town from the bridge with Mad in the afternoon. Studied. Went to the play in the evening. Georgine took me down there and Gordon met me at the door as he was an usher. After the thing commenced he sat with me. The plays were splendid. Gordon told me that Gladys had tried to run off with a sophomore but was caught by her father and brother and put in an asylum. Poor child. Wednesday studied and sat on the roof of the Fay Home with Marie. Lovely old fashioned rambling place up there. Went in swimming with Mary Thursday. Choral Club. Studied. Saturday and Sunday it rained and I studied a stead streak..."

 

          "Saturday June 8,

           Last Tuesday studied in the morning, then Mary came around in the afternoon and we walked down to the Square and then sat and loafed around my room. Mary may go to the Senior [Spread]. Emily came just after Mary left. She forgot her dress suit case so I had to lend her everything. We had supper on the piazza. The boys and Cousin Catherine came for us soon after supper and we started from the pop concert. Walked down to Brattle Square and Gordon told me on the way that Miss Pier can't come for Class Day so he asked Eleanor F. The concert was great sport. We had a table near the front. It was [Xxxx] night and the men cheered between acts. Two behind us got jolly drunk and were very funny. I scared G. by getting Den to order some cigarettes and then pretending to light one. Emily and I talked after we got back until the wee small hours. Wednesday Emily and I went over to college and then she took the car home. Mrs. Gilman made me so mad I wept again. She has a particular knack that way. Mary and I took a walk to Frick Pond in the afternoon and sat by the water. Loads of students out there studying. Miss Webster came to supper. Mrs. G. and I couldn't stand being alone together..."

 

          "Friday Sept. 27

           ...Mamma, Uncle Jack and I got off on the 8:58 train Monday for home. Met a funny German on the train whom I had to help out with my small knowledge of German as she wanted to telegraph. Found she was an aunt of a Radcliffe girl I know of. Found Grandma was very sick when I reached home...Tuesday unpacked and shopped all the morning and visited with Grandpa...Wednesday morning spent shopping and seeing Dr. Swain about my voice...Packed Thursday morning and was vaccinated. Saw Grandma for a little while. She seemed pretty well talked a good deal. Said goodbye to Grandpa and Aunt Jennie in the carriage. Jean saw me off. Uncle Jack went down to the green in the car with us. Uneventful trip. Mrs. Gilman met me at the front door.. I went to college first and saw Miss Coes and registered. Unpacked a little before supper and Amy Brooks, the other girl in the house, came in and talked. She's pretty and dresses well, but her manner seems a little affected. Talked a little with Amy and Mrs. Gilman after supper and then unpacked. Gordon and Den came in for a little while. Gordon and the Deaconess had been here in the afternoon before I came. Gordon has been given a room at the club home and been made a proctor. Went over to college at nine this morning and saw all the old girls. Mad and I met suddenly in a crowd and hugged so violently everyone stared and laughed. Sat with Marie and Eleanor in French. I like it so far. Then went down to the square with Mad and Emily and Mad came home with me and helped me fix up my room while we talked. Then we went down to the square again and then I went over to Zoology1 in Agassi Museum with a crowd just to visit. Came home....loafed around the "ranch" a little this afternoon with Amy and then came up and wrote. Went to the square with Amy. Loafed in her room. She came over for a few minutes in a swell new long coat. Sewed in Amy's room in the evening and then wrote."

 

           "Thursday Dec 13.

           ...I didn't go to the game. I stayed in bed all the morning, telephoning to Gordon at intervals, until time to dress for the lunch. Gordon took me to lunch, Mrs. Bacon chaperoned and there was just the family and Warren and his sister. Den was in tearing spirits and we were all excited, crowds were passing to the game and all the town around the college especially the Square was crowded with crimson flags. Amy gave me one of her big red chrysanthemums to wear and I wore Edith Gilman's big black velvet hat. After lunch, Dabs, Jerry and I went sadly off to Brookline while the others shipped to the game. Of course Harvard won 22 to 0 and the people came back wild and hoarse with cheering. We spent the evening very quietly talking and playing games as we were all tired. Sunday it poured and we looked over photos, drummed on the piano and loafed..."