My Journey to Memphis

Biographical and Historical Notes

P. B. Durfee lived in Providence, Rhode Island, during the mid-nineteenth century. In 1866 and 1867, he went on two trips to Memphis, Tennessee, to work for the firm of J. C. and W. B. Kimball. His duties included keeping books and writing invoices. At the time of these trips, he had a sweetheart named Celia, but he appears to have been unmarried.

Durfee lived in Providence and worked as a purchasing agent for local schools until at least 1900.


School Committee of the City of Providence. Annual Report of the School Committee of the City of Providence. Providence: The Providence Press, 1901.

Biographical information derived from the collection.

Scope and Content Note

This journal belonged to P. B. Durfee and chronicles two trips from Providence, Rhode Island, to Memphis, Tennessee, where he worked as a clerk during the 1860s.

P. B. Durfee’s journal consists of 132 pages of autograph entries in pencil chronicling two business trips to Memphis taken in 1866 and 1867. Durfee described daily occurrences and activities including the weather, correspondence, work, amusements (especially card games), social gatherings, personal hygiene, and his lodgings.

The journal begins with a detailed account of his route and description of the trip from Providence, Rhode Island, to Memphis, Tennessee. He left Providence on September 24, 1866. Durfee traveled principally by railroad through Albany and Chicago. He arrived in Memphis on September 27. The journal continues with a diary of Durfee’s daily life in Memphis. This section ends with the entry for December 31, 1866.

The final section contains an account of Durfee’s second journey to Memphis. He began the trip on September 27, 1867, by taking a steamer to New York City. From there, he traveled by rail via Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. The entries describe the route, Durfee’s experiences while traveling, and stops along the way. The journal ends when Durfee arrived in Memphis on October 20, 1867.

The endpaper of the volume contains a list of expenses for the first trip to Memphis.