As a part of this research, I put online scans of all the articles I have found that covered Plath's suicide attempt. There are more than 200! I hope that you all use this resource; that you enjoy it and benefit from it. In processing all those files, and re-reading them, I grew more and more intrigued with the finer-point details presented in the 1953 articles themselves, in the biographies, in articles, and, of course, in Plath's wonderful novel The Bell Jar. A lot of my querying was further encouraged by my recent tour of Plath's 26 Elmwood Road, Wellesley, house.
This got me wondering if the Wellesley Police Department might have any archival record of their role in searching for Plath. So I wrote to Kelly Dias, the records manager, and in a very short time she sent me the following images from one of their log books. As they are public records she gave me her blessing to post them here.
At 5:30 pm on 24 August 1953, Mrs. Plath called the Wellesley Police to report her daughter missing.
The log reads:
5:30 pm Mrs Plath 26 Elmwood Rd. reports herAt 6:46 am on 25 August 1953, Mrs. Plath called back to let the police know that she found the pill bottle missing.
daughter Sylvia Plath age 20 - 5'9" - 140 lbs.
dark brown eyes, dark blonde hair missing. Propably
wearing blue denim skirt, blouse and Jersey.
This girl depressed. Route officer and
all station a our radio network notified.
Teletype item 85. West P.D. notified.
The log reads:
6:46 AM Tel. Mrs Plath 26 Elmwood Rd. reportsAt 12:40 pm on 26 August 1953, the Plath's called to report that Sylvia Plath had been located in the cellar.
she finds a bottle containing sleeping pills missing
and feels sure her daughter must of taken
them with her. Car #3 Officers Murphy, Turdar [?]
and Monaghan detailed to search area.
The log reads:
12:40 p.m. Tel: Send Police to #26 Elmwood Rd. —I was hopeful to see interview notes, notes summarizing police activities, and possibly photographs. But these things seemingly do not exist; or exist no longer.
Officer Webb detailed with Ambulance -
Car 1 - Chief and McGlone detailed and
report: Sylvia Plath reported as missing
8-24-53 located in this house. Taken to
Newton Hospital in Ambulance.
Rev. William Rice - notified.
Missing report cancelled by Item 36 - 8/26/53.
As far as I am aware no previous biographer worked with these document but they do present the most accurate timeline for those days. When things happened. The minutes, in fact, that logged phone calls were made from Mrs. Plath to the police. You will remember that on the afternoon of 24 August 1953, Mrs. Plath saw the film A Queen is Crowned at the Exeter Street Theatre on Exeter and Newbury Streets in Boston's Back bay. She would have gotten home sometime around 4 pm and waited at most 90 minutes before starting the search for Sylvia Plath.
My sincere thanks to Kelly Dias for her help on this post.
All links accessed 18 September 2016.