Mona Lisa Missing: Was It in the US?

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Sunday, September 10, 1911: Went to Sunday School this afternoon. I was the only one in my class today. It has happened that way for the past three Sundays. It is simply provoking the way the other girls attend Sunday School.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

I think Grandma attended the McEwensville Baptist Church and that the church closed sometime before 1920. Based on these diary entries it’s easy to understand why the church was shuttered a few years later.

Since Grandma didn’t write much a hundred years ago today, I’m going to tell you about a historic event that occurred in 1911–

Mona Lisa (Photo source: Wikepedia)

On August 21, 1911 the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre in Paris. I’ve seen several articles recently about the hundredth anniversary of the robbery. For example, the Los Angeles Times  had an article about the theft. The picture was eventually recovered in Florence, Italy in 1913.

I tend to think of McEwensville as a very isolated spot in 1911–and that Grandma would have known nothing of events happening half a world away–but actually she may have known about the robbery.

I was amazed to discover that at least one paper in rural central Pennsylvania, the Milton Evening Standard, was covering the story.  The September 9 paper discussed the robbery—and that the U.S. secret service was trying to find it.

Source: Milton Evening Standard (September 9, 1911) An aside: I'm not sure why the article says that the painting was stolen on August 22. Modern sources all say that was taken on August 21.

Who would have thought that a hundred years ago today people thought that Mona Lisa was in the U.S.?

4 Responses

  1. Just found your blog. Thanks for sharing your grandmother’s 100 year old diary. I read back a bit and really enjoyed them.

  2. [...] school each week– even though she often was the only student in her class. For example, the previous week Grandma wrote: Went to Sunday School this afternoon. I was the only one in my class today. It has [...]

  3. [...] weeks Grandma was the only pupil in her class—but she always went the following week. Other diary entries noted that she was trying to memorize [...]

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