Some things never change

Recently I’ve been going through some newly acquired diaries in our manuscript collection.  Randomly reading diary entries can prove to be very entertaining.  Sure, you could end up reading page after page of daily weather, or recaps of Sunday sermons, but once in a while you’ll find a gem.  Because so many diaries are straightforward record keeping, it can be hard to find a diarist with entertaining prose, so I’m going to share a couple of entries that caught my eye.

First, we have an entry from Walter Goodrich.  Walter lived in Portland, Maine, and kept a diary from January through June of 1846.  While the diary doesn’t cover a long time span, his entries are lengthy (about a full page per day) and detail his life at school and in his community.  In one entry, Walter recounts the all too familiar issues dog ownership –

Eight o’clock in the morning About seven o’clock this morning it looked as clear and fair and I thought it was going to be a pleasant day, but now it snows and I don’t know when it will stop.  This morning Ring hearing a dog bark down on the new road somewheres thought he must put in the chorus so he began to bow wow wow the worst kind.  And there then two dogs barked so much as half an hour, and this morning as I was going after the milk I met John Dunham in the road and he said he was going to kill ring he came over by my house this morning and kept barking and waking my baby up and just as sure as he comes over there again I will kill him!!

Another entry comes from a new addition to our unidentified diaries collection.  The diary was kept by a school girl from Rhode Island.  Another short diary, she kept daily entries for only three months, from November 1852 through January 1853.  On a Thursday during the cold winter, our author writes of a promise made with a friend to get up at 5am the next morning for some exercise.  And much like we still all hit the snooze button and ignore our good intentions, she too slept in –

Last night Minerva and I made an agreement to get up at 5 o’clock this morning and take a walk.  So at the appointed time I was awoke but could not think of getting up out of such a nice warm bed and going out into the cold air, and perhaps have Jack Frost bite my nose.  So I did not get up until the regular time.  Auntie overslept herself this morning.

I love how diaries can capture these real life moments and make us realize how some of the simple things in life never change!

Both of these diaries will be up for adoption during AAS’s annual Adopt-A-Book event on April 3, 2012.  [You can read about last year’s event here.]  More information about this year’s event, as well as other items up for adoption, will be available on our website soon!

Published by

Tracey Kry

Assistant Curator of Manuscripts and Assistant Reference Librarian, American Antiquarian Society

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