One of the Archives' newest addition to their collection is the Hadley Journal Collection. In 2015, Betty Ann Hadley of Nashville, Tenn., donated a number of family items to Metro Archives. The donation included 11 handwritten journals by her mother, Elizabeth Lois Meguiar Hadley, born in 1894. Many historical events occured in the time period covered by the Hadley records, including the Civil War, World War I and World War II. The donation also includes several yearbooks from Isaac Litton High School and Goodlettsville High School, and several color slides of historic houses in the Inglewood/East Nashville area.
Betty Hadley was a respected and beloved teacher at both Litton and Goodlettsville high schools, retiring from Litton in 1983. Her only sibling, Albert Hadley, Jr, became a renowned interior designer in New York City. The journals of their mother, Elizabeth Lois Meguiar Hadley, paint a rich description of life in the Nashville and Springfield area from her childhood through the World War II years. Her access to family letters and documents allowed her to record how, for example, the Civil War affected the prewar and postwar lives of regular citizens. A number of her ancestors fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War and the descriptions of Union soldiers in Tennessee are decidedly Southern; she states how these perceptions of “Yankees” are passed along through generations, noting that “prejudice is like a poison, and it is so easily instilled into the hearts of children.” The letters of her paternal grandfather, William “Buck” Meguiar, are particularly affecting. Kept by her father in his trunk, the letters depict some of the aftermath of the Civil War but primarily demonstrate the perennial hopes of parents for their children, the offered advice, and, in one letter, instructions on how to trade mules. The descriptions of daily life in her maternal grandparents’ home Maple Bluff, located about seven miles southeast of Springfield in Robertson County, mention “servants,” including the “Negro Mammy, Susan.” It is fair to assume, given the era, that the more accurate word is slaves, especially since she also notes that after the Civil War, “some of the Negroes remained loyal to their masters” and Susan was one of them. There are other references to African-Americans in the journal that are often stereotypical and derogatory in their description and are likely to be offensive to contemporary readers. Of special note, particularly in regards to Nashville history, is the description of Vaucluse, the mansion built by Dr. John Livingston Hadley in the early 1800s in the area that became known as “Hadley’s Bend.” Albert Livingston Hadley, husband of Elizabeth Lois Meguiar, and father to Betty Ann and Albert Hadley, Jr, was a descendent of the original Hadley family. The latter half of the journals is primarily dedicated to letters from Albert Hadley during his service in World War II. The letters describe his training in the states, his ocean journey to England, his service role abroad, and his on-leave trips into London. Although he contracts pneumonia in England, he is eventually returned to convalesce in hospitals in Memphis and in Kentucky, where his family is finally able to see him again. The journals have, for the most part, been faithfully transcribed as written. In some instances, minor editing has been performed to clarify spelling or meaning, but only where it has been absolutely necessary. In short, the journals reveal the lives of an extended family deeply rooted in middle Tennessee and how the enormous cultural, political, and historic shifts of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries affected their lives and dreams.
The Hadley Journal Collection can be found here on the Metro Archives website.