Posted by shane

We have just completed transcribing the first section of Harry Watkins's diary, which begins on November 20, 1845 and concludes on May 31, 1846. Within this time span of only half a year, Watkins was a very busy working actor. He writes about having either seen or performed in over 30 plays, his attendance at a public execution, and his travels by steamship around the Gulf of Mexico between Galveston, TX and New Orleans, LA or wherever he lands an acting gig. Watkins sees Anna Cora Mowatt perform in her new play Fashion and responds that she is a much better playwright than actress. He also writes about his performing with T. D. Rice, who was touring the nation with his blackface burlesques Otello and Virginia Mummy. These are just two examples of how entrenched Watkins was in some of the most influential American performances of the period.

Throughout these entries, Watkins also shares his concern for finding his next job, landing a steady salary, or scraping together enough money to cover his food, board, and passage on ships. When he has enough cash, he enjoys Gulf Coast oysters and ale. When he doesn't, well just like actors trying to make it in the theatre today, he makes do until the next job hits.

As if these concerns are not enough for Harry Watkins, he is also a serious patriot and expresses great concern about the war between the US and Mexico. At one point, he even tries to procure a spot traveling with General Zachary Taylor's army so he can witness an actual battle, but the General staunchly refuses. Civilians have no place in military action.

With only six months transcribed, we have only begun to uncover Watkins's many adventures in the theatre!