Lucile MacRae’s life was hardly that of a typical young woman of the 1920’s, and Huntington resident Sue Jepsen has the diaries and artifacts to prove it. Jepsen, who is MacRae’s second cousin once removed, is the current caretaker of many precious items inherited from Lucile and her mother, Agnes, souvenirs of the many years they spent living and traveling in East Asia. She’s also the transcriber of Lucile’s diaries, many of which describe Lucile’s experiences in the Phillippines, China, Canton, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Sumatra, Java, Thailand, and Japan. Jepsen will tell Lucile MacRae’s story in the program, From Singapore to Nagasaki: The 1919 Diary of an American Woman Abroad, which she will present at 6:30 pm on Wednesday, February 12th, at the Huntington City-Township Public Library.
Lucile Agnes MacRae was born in 1895 in Michigan, and lived there with her parents until her father’s death in 1905. In 1907, her mother remarried, and Lucile’s stepfather moved the family to Spokane, WA, and then later to Seattle, so that Lucile could attend the University of Washington, where she graduated in 1917 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. Soon after her graduation, Lucile accompanied her mother and her stepfather, Lee, on an 18-month “Inspection Tour” of East Asia to see if Lee could generate business for his company, The Northwest Trading Company (later known as Northwest Harvester.) Lee’s job was to help mechanize the farming of sugar cane, rubber, and other East Asian crops. Lucile took on the responsibility of helping him with his correspondence; a job for which she was well suited, as her degree included stenography. Beginning in Manila, the family spent all but six weeks of the next 14 years traveling East Asia, living and working in Manila, Shanghai, and Hong Kong, as Lee opened new offices.
In addition to relating the story of Lucile’s unusual life, Jepsen will also show and discuss many of the fascinating items Lucile and her family acquired during their travels – including vintage lace dresses, oriental clothing, embroidery, and pieces of Emperor’s China. She’ll also display mementos such as postcards, dance cards, event menus, and photographs of Lucile and her family. A selection of these items are currently on display at the Main Library. This program is free and open to the public, and no registration is required. For more information about this or any other library program, call the Main Library at 260-356-0824. Huntington City-Township Public Library is located at 255 West Park Drive, Huntington.