Martha Ballard's Diary
June 12, 2004 3:45 PM   Subscribe

Martha Ballard's Diary Includes a transcription of the diary (written between 1785-1812), images of the original MS, and a number of contextual documents and photographs, plus many other things. (Those of you who enjoy old diaries should bear in mind that one of the greatest diarists of them all, Samuel Pepys, has a blog.)
posted by thomas j wise (5 comments total)
A great find, Ms tjw! But I'm afraid she suffers by comparison with Sam:
Clear and warm. I have done my hous work and workt in my gardin, feel very much fatagued. Son Town Sleeps here, his famely are well. at home.

Clear and very warm. I have done my hous work and Bakt, workt Some in my gardin. Hannah Ballard Came and helpt me. Shee washed ye Dishes, Swept the house and did Some other matters. at home.

Clear and warm. mrs Herinton washt for me. I have workt in my gardin. I let her have 3/4 yd Cloath for a Coat for her Child. our men at Coart. at home.

Clear. I houghd my Beens and Sett 40 french Turnips and did my hous work. mr Ballard makeing Plans & Cyrus at Coart. at home.

Clear and a Cool air. I have workt Some in my gardin and done my hous work. mrs Parker and her 3 youngest Childn here. Polly Bolton & Sally Farewell took Tea here. mr Ballard & Cyrus at Coart. Dagt Ballard & Ephm went to Asa Pierces. at home.

Clear. I have been at home. mr Ballard & Cyrus at meeting, Ephm at home with me. at home.

Clear. I have been at home. Old Lady Shaw and Polly Bolton here to Tea. I have done my hous work. at home.
Is everything clear?
posted by languagehat at 8:21 PM on June 12, 2004

A Midwife's Tale is a fascinating book, and there is even a creditable "documentary" film adaptation. This is much more interesting than the recent spate of PBS shows with moden people trying to live like the early settlers. Martha Ballard's understated diaries are compelling, but the additional context offered by the historian who found them and brought them to publication makes the story very compelling.
posted by briank at 6:06 AM on June 13, 2004

Yeah, Martha Ballard's diary is primarily interesting for historical value. I don't think anybody comes close to Samuel Pepys.
posted by thomas j wise at 6:36 AM on June 13, 2004

Here's an interesting story from yesterday's paper about a much-admired diary by a pioneer woman in Ohio, which recent investigation reveals may be an elaboate hoax.
posted by Faze at 11:25 AM on June 13, 2004

Researcher Antonio Holtman posted a treatise on the Internet citing several flaws in Bocke's journal, including a hand-drawn map that depicts a town named Wilhelmshaven in Germany. The town was named after the Kaiser, who was not in power when Bocke was alive.

Busted! Great story, Faze -- thanks. You have to wonder about somebody who would go to all that trouble to write a brilliant account of pioneer Ohio, and then try to make sure they'd never get the credit.
posted by languagehat at 12:18 PM on June 13, 2004

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