Beloit College
neesediaries

Laura Aldrich Neese Diaries

Born February 17, 1889, Laura Janvrin Aldrich was the only daughter of Jennie Dora Janvrin and Alonzo Aldrich. At a young age, Laura was a gifted child. Daughter of one of the cofounders of the Beloit Corporation, she was able to gain an education while also pursuing her interests. At Beloit High School, she showed promise by winning an art award and becoming valedictorian. She then went studied at the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, where she was again valedictorian. Laura attended Beloit College with the class of 1912. She was a strong student, receiving the highest grades and reports. Continuing her art education, she studied at the Chicago Art Institute and took private lessons from her artist friends. To improve skills and techniques, she attended drawing classes throughout her lifetime. On June 16, 1914, Laura Aldrich married Elbert H. Neese. Two years later, they had their first child, Elizabeth J. "Betty" (Moore); in 1921, they had their second child Alonzo A., nicknamed "Lon," followed by Elbert H. "Ebbie" in 1923 and Laura A. in 1925.

Laura had a very active life as a mother but also as a philanthropist and artist. While her husband served as president of the Beloit Corporation (now known as Iron Works), she worked closely with the Beloit Foundation, the First Congregational Church, and the Art League of Beloit; she even founded the Beloit Family Service Association, still going strong today. In 1941, she also became the first female member of the Beloit College Board of Trustees, remaining a zealous lifelong trustee for over twenty years. In addition to Laura's volunteer work, she was an active artist. Galleries across the country exhibited her paintings and watercolors for more than twenty-five years. In 1952, Beloit College awarded Laura an honorary Doctor of Fine Arts for her commitment to the discipline of art and for her longtime service to the college.

This digital collection will include four volumes of Laura's diaries. These beautifully-illustrated diaries contain accounts of Laura's time in Beloit and abroad, providing a glimpse into college life in the early 1900s. New volumes will be added as they are digitized by library staff, so check back often!

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Special thanks to library student assistants Liz Levy and Kelly Hayes and archives student assistant Amara Pugens for their invaluable contributions to this collection.