Providence, RI: 1863-1874. Pocket diary measuring 2.5 x 3.75 inches. Comprised of 76 handwritten pages, one mourning poem pasted to the verso of the front cover, a handwritten receipt from John Gardiner, a small paper doll, and four newspaper cutouts loosely tucked into the rear pocket (of these, one is an advertisement for Mrs. Dr. Kenyon who "treats all diseases peculiar to ladies" and one is an article titled How to Show Love for a Wife). The US Census of 1860 shows Mary W. Almy living as a widow with her three grown children and a domestic servant from Ireland. Three years later, the present notebook reveals to us how she managed her household, from her kitchen to her accounts.
At the time of beginning this notebook, Mary would have been 46 years old, living independently while her sons worked respectively as a jeweler and an apprentice. Her daughter Carrie appears to have lived at home; and domestic tasks were assisted by their Irish maid Mary Davis (1860 Census). Her husband Samuel, who does appear alive in the Census of a decade before, worked locally as a clerk; and it is from him, potentially, that Mary learned how to run her household and keep documentation. This pocket-sized book was something Mary clearly carried with her throughout the day, jotting down important details so they didn't escape her memory. Amidst recipes for Boiled Brown Bread and Corn Pudding -- regional staples -- there are also addresses and birthdays, and notes on expenses due or owed. Here, we get a more intimate glimpse into Mary's life. We discover, for example, that the cost of getting her false tooth cast was a whopping $5 in August [no year], and that she paid $1.25 in February 1867 for a tintype album. Scattered throughout are expenses for multiple other items, from a beaded pincushion, to wool yarn, to yards of poplin, to a silver fruit knife.
Notably, it also appears that Mary may have been courted by the John H. Gardner who presented her with the notebook in 1863, a local attorney. Birthdays and dates of family deaths for the Gardners are occasionally remarked upon. We also find notations about Carrie's wedding and marriage as the notebook moves along, and Mary keeps tabs on the appropriate gifts to give over the years, and the costs of supplies for a trousseau. The birth of a child Hannah and her growth are marked in some of the final pages.
A unique and research rich piece befitting further study in fields including but not limited to genealogy, household management, regional cookery, women in business, and women's social history. (Item #3355)