[Mendon & Rochester, NY]: 1871. Pocket diary of Mary E. Quick, a Hicksite Quaker woman living in the Mendon community outside Rochester, NY. Comprised of 360 handwritten pages in pencil, with one small paper packet with a locket of hair tucked into the rear pocket. Bookseller's ticket to front pastedown; ownership signature on front endpaper. New York state census records from 1875 list Mary E. Quick as a resident of Mendon aged 29, making her 25 at the time of writing this journal.
A Hicksite Quaker, whose community was committed to principles of human equality and individual value over dogmatic scriptural adherence, Mary Quick grew to womanhood in a time and place swirling with activism. Mendon and nearby Rochester, NY were cradles of the abolition and suffrage movements; and during the last half of the 19th century, luminaries including Frederick Douglass, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony were focusing campaigns on New York state. In this environment, Mary writes her daily diary, which is a rich resource for understanding both what everyday life was like in her small Quaker fellowship as well as how that community engaged with wider networks of activism. Throughout the year, Mary's writing makes it clear that the seasons dictate much about what happens in her life; weather, illness, and chores shape whether and when she and her siblings attend school. In cold weather, the women gather to quilt together while the men cut wood and hunt. In warm weather, families help each other in cleaning and repairing their homes to prepare for summer. Chronic illnesses, including colic, affect some of the oldest and youngest members of the neighborhood and ultimately claim the life of her young cousin. Regardless of the season, community gatherings focused on civic engagement are key parts of life. "Father, Charlie and I went to a lecture this evening..." is a familiar sentence throughout. "Mother, Charlie, and I went to a lecture at the Center. Subject: Sheridan," she writes on March 2, 1871; on March 18 she writes, "the boys went to the school exhibition...Father, Mother, and I went to the lecture at the Center. Subject: Intemperance Physiologically Considered." Most notable, however, is the lecture she attends on April 25, 1871:"Cleaned the kitchen. Then Mother, Hattie, and I went to hear a lecture at the meeting house by Sojourner Truth. She is gathering signatures to a petition for having land in the west set apart for the colored people..." An important campaign in Truth's later career, she was at this time making a tour to gain support for the provision of land to support freed black communities. "Even into her seventies, Truth continued to travel widely to work tirelessly for social change. Beginning in 1871, Truth strived for seven years to secure federal land grants in western territories for former slaves, even meeting with President Ulysses S. Grant. Sojourner Truth also campaigned widely against capital punishment, and in support of women's rights" (Ruggles Center). Truth, alongside Susan B. Anthony, would also make an attempt to vote in an election. Sojourner Truth's numerous overlaps in principle with the Quakers made her a much-admired fiture, and Mary notes that she attended despite having a head cold and feeling ill.
A lengthy, dense, and detailed daily record, Mary Quick's diary provides ample opportunities for research including but not limited to the role of women in Quaker communities, seasonal rituals in rural communities, the spread and treatment of disease in the 19th century, education and activism, and the engagement of communities with visiting activists. An exceptional piece. (Item #2534)