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Dear Diary

We were delighted to run across this blog post from writer, editor, and UI alum Alison Feldmann on the IDL’s Historic Iowa Children’s Diaries digital collection. We have a deep love for historic diaries as well, and we’re currently hard at work developing a site that will allow the public to help enhance our collections through “crowdsourcing” or collaborative transcription of diaries and other manuscript materials. Stay tuned!

Image from the Historic Iowa Children’s Diaries digital collection

…After poking around the Digital Library — of which there is an abundance of cool stuff, and I’ll be posting much more! — I came across (and was blown away by) their collection of historic Iowa children’s diaries. These tomes originated with early settler children — teenagers, actually — of the 1850s through the early 20th century. The best part is that some have been transcribed and biographies of the kids are provided. I kind of fell in love with the pages of the last diary shown above, mostly because of the doodles, kept by 14 year old Linnie Hagerman (1852-1934), of Keokuk, Iowa. (Check out that handwriting! Gorgeously messy.) Born in Missouri in 1852, Linnie moved with her family to Keokuk at age 10, and remained there for the rest of her life. She began drawing by doodling in her diary, and later became an artist, creating many oil paintings during the 1880s.

An exciting transcription:

“Sitting room Saturday Nov 24th 1866
Sat down to wash the baby, when a man came running in saying ‘Your house is on fire’ and Mrs Cunningham ran to the stairs screamed for the children to come down stairs she got the children over to Mrs McNamaras I went over to Mr McNamara and got Emma and Nellie and brought them home with me Mrs Armitrout [Armentrout], Mrs Grim, Mrs Johnson Mrs Hill, Sallie Beadle [and] Emma & Nellie Cunningham were here to dinner. Mrs Grim brought her baby with her and so did Mrs Armentrout but they would not come to me, well I did nurse the little Grim baby awhile. I have been over to Mrs Fryers several times today on errands. Emma Cunningham went home away and left Nellie towards evening[.] Nell got dissatisfied and wanted to go over to Mrs McNamaras so I took her over and I went over to the burnt house Emma and Nellie came back with me and our ore [are] going to stay all night. Oh! I forgot to say Mrs Cunningham had a wardrobe full of the best clothing and all of Dan Morgin clothes burnt.”

Read the full post at Teenangster: