Waterloo, Iowa: 1877. Small pocket diary measuring 2 x 4". Comprised of 55 handwritten pages and two inserts (a one page purchase order and a tiny, homemade ledger of 9 pages); 65 pages of content in all. Ownership signature and bookseller's stamp to front endpaper. Tracking her days across the year of 1877, Manda Smith can give researchers insight into the family and social lives of women who worked to support themselves and assist their families.
Though we've been unable to locate Manda Smith and determine her exact age, the prose and content of this diary suggest that she is in her late teens or twenties -- a young woman still living at home with family, attending Sunday school, taking singing lessons, and attending meetings at the local lodge with aunts, uncles, and cousins who live nearby. As a resident of Iowa, Manda was living at an exciting time in the state's political history, as the women's suffrage movement began to take root. It's likely that further research could determine if some of the community meetings she mentions attending were related to the movement -- certainly she was interested in temperance, as she mentions Drunkard Meetings and their role in the community. But for Manda, employment takes up the bulk of her days. She reports on working at a nearby mill in Waterloo during certain times of year; and all year long, she takes in knitting and sock-making to support herself. In addition to noting the days she knits and mentioning her projects, she also keeps a small, hand-stitched ledger tucked into the journal; this 9 page piece tracks the projects, and her costs and income over the year.
With research potential including but not limited to genealogy, women's employment history, education history, and the history of social clubs in the Midwest. (Item #3071)