Skip to main content

Mrs. Elspeth P. Udall Diaries

Identifier: mss-542

Scope and Contents

Diary entries consist of detailed descriptions of personal, family, and community activities. The diaries are structured as one page per day.


  • 1926-1966


Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Biographical / Historical

Elspeth Paterson Udall (1878-1967) was the daughter of James Paterson (1845-1925) and Isabelle Harvey Morse (1842-1903). A graduate of Craftsbury Academy in 1897, Elspeth became a teacher in local schools. She attended the Mary Fletcher Hospital School of Nursing and Johns Hopkins University Hospital for an obstetrics specialty. She next worked as a public health nurse in Baltimore, Maryland.

In 1904, she married Bertren "Burt" Udall (1868-1925), a dairy farmer, and returned to Craftsbury. They had two daughters, Isabel (1906-1991) and Martha (1908-1994, married Linwood Dill (1907-1993) in 1935). After Burt died, Elspeth moved to Craftsbury Common and took in Craftsbury Academy student boarders. She returned to the nursing profession to provide for her daughters' education in Home Economics at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York.

For nearly 40 years, Elspeth worked as an in-home aide to the Simpson family, which consisted of Alice Simpson and her adult daughter Mary Jean Simpson. Alice had a variety of medical needs and Elspeth's responsibilities were described under the title "companion" (see Census records) but included nurse, cook, housekeeper, and close friend. In 1936, they moved to Washington, D.C. while Mary Jean was employed as the Bill Clerk of the U.S. Senate. The next year, they moved to Burlington when Mary Jean Simpson became Dean of Women at the University of Vermont. They returned to Craftsbury after Mary Jean's retirement in 1955.

Elspeth was a member of the Athena Club and Women's Union of the College Street Congregational Church.

Elspeth had five siblings: Mary Lois ((1880-1975), nickname "Maylo," married Zuar Hanson (1879-1935)); Helen ((1881-1971), married William Dustan (1875-1944) in 1908); James Robert (1882-1964); Martha Belle (1883-1965); and Deane Adelphia (1885-1888). A family tree is available. Note that some sources spell the family's last name Patterson, with two Ts.

[adapted from Elspeth Udall's obituary]


1 Linear Feet (1 carton)

Language of Materials



Collection consists of personal diaries written by Mrs. Udall while working for the Simpson family while living at 61 N. Prospect Street, Burlington, VT and in Craftsbury, VT.


Library Research Annex; contact for access.

Related Materials

Mary Jean Simpson's life and work are documented as a personal manuscript collection and as part of the records of the Dean of Women at the University of Vermont. Both collections are held by University of Vermont Special Collections.

The records of the Athena Club are also held by University of Vermont Special Collections.

Elspeth's husband Bertrand (1868-1925) was the son of Martha Freeman Hovey (1836-1905) and Socrates Udall (1827-1899). Martha's brother was Roger Hovey (1839-1907). Roger served in the Civil War and his papers are also in the UVM Special Collections.

Guide to the Mrs. Elspeth P. Udall Diaries
2022 December
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)