Florence Hunter's Diary

Scope and Content

The diary describes the following: Hunter's departure from Liverpool on the Germanic on 8 August 1878 (p.1), arrival at and impressions of New York (p.7), journeys to Saratoga and Niagara Falls (pp.11-15), Toronto, Montreal and Quebec 27-31 August (pp.16-28), Boston and Harvard College, 2-4 August (pp.32-40), which includes her impressions of Boston hospitals; Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, 4-9 August (pp. 47-52), including a visit to Howard University, Chicago and the Western states, September 12-18, followed by a period in California from 19 September to 3 October (pp.63-77)

On 3 October Florence sailed to Japan from San Francisco aboard the City of Pekin, and she describes conversations with passengers about religious matters, and the death of a baby aboard ship. On 21 October, she arrived at Japan (p.90), where she visited the cities including Tokyo, Yokohama, Kyoto, Kobe Osaka, Nagasaki. The diary describes Hunter's views on Japanese religions (Shintoism and Buddhism) at several points, comparing them with Christian religions, as well as the characteristics of the Japanese people, schooling, medical provisions etc. On 21 November, she arrived at Shanghai, and spent over a fortnight visiting various towns and sites in China, including Hong Kong (where she describes a meeting with the governor John Pope Hennessy), Macao, and Canton. There are detailed descriptions of her views on Chinese medical facilities and the Chinese legal system; (pp.152-183).

The period from 12 to 15 December was spent in Singapore and Penang (pp.186-189); followed by Ceylon and India, where she visited sites on the western coast, followed by Madras (pp. 228-239); she was obviously interested in the work of missionaries in India, especially their contacts with women in zenana households and comments on the relative success of Roman Catholic and Protestant. From 13 January to 29 January she visited Calcutta, Darjeeling, including climbing Senchal, and the Ganges valley, including the cities of Lucknow and Cawnpore> at this point she discusses the Indian Mutiny and its aftermath in some detail (pp. 242-289). The final leg of her Indian tour saw her visit Delhi, Agra (where her brother-in-law fell ill), Allahabad, and Bombay (31 January to 17 February 1879), where she visited Parsee and European Hospitals. On 17 February Florence Hunter sailed from India on the Surat, arriving at Suez on 1 March; William left her in Egypt to continue travelling in the Holy Land. Florence then sailed to Italy, where she describes an encounter with a drunken Lord Conyngham (4th Marquess Conyngham) on route. After Italy she stayed briefly in Paris (9 -10 March), where she visited the newly-refurbished Hotel Dieu Notre Dame (Paris' oldest hospital). She ends her diary on 11 March: "Tomorrow I may hope to be back in old England once more, after all these wanderings, and not a few perils."

The impression of Florence Hunter which emerges from her journal is of a conventional if open-minded person. She took a keen interest in the religious practices of the countries she visited, and was clearly inquisitive about non-Christian religions. She was also interested in the work of Western missionaries not only in promoting Christianity, but in providing medical and educational facilities. Her diary also has interesting comments on the status of women in the countries she visited, the moral codes of other nations, and the behaviour of British tourists. The diary is also of interest provides it provides a traveller's account of the type of tours organised by commercial companies, in this case, Thomas Cook.