Manuscript diary of an unidentified young woman living near Watertown, Jefferson County, New York 1906

12mo, 363 pages of daily entries, 26 pages of notes and cash accounts at rear, neatly inscribed in ink, very clean and legible, bound in original red leather wallet style binding.

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The diary records the daily life of a very hardworking young woman - her daily toil seems unrelenting -  she engages in her own domestic work, and helps her parents as well, and in addition gives music lessons, piano, to children and others in the area. She chronicles all of her daily tasks in considerable detail, it is an amazing workload – made even more so as we learn that our diarist was pregnant while doing it. She chronicles the later stages of her pregnancy and her child’s birth with the same level of detail and with an unusual degree of frankness, the birth at home and the difficulties encountered afterward are noted.

      Sample entries:

Saturday Feb. 10, 1906 “Some warmer today and cloudy have had quite a number of brisk snow storms today but they don’t last long. This morning after breakfast I cleaned off my table, straightened up my house and then went to ironing – have ironed all the A.M. got dinner. Sumner helped me do my breakfast and dinner dishes, then I finished up my ironing swept and dusted the kitchen emptied all the ashes and carried the coal, made my bed changed my dress. The little Darkey girl came here tonight to see about taking music lessons. I called on Maud this P.M. Got supper done up my work. Mrs. Will Carpenter called here to see about taking music lessons. I went over to Jennie’s a while this eve came home and have written in my diary and stayed home.”

        Monday, March 5, 1906 “Very pleasant this morning after breakfast I cleared off my table picked up the house and made two pies and two cakes then I done my dishes, got dinner done up my dishes frosted my cakes, put my clothes a soak this p.m., swept my kitchen also brushed up the sitting room. A little girl came this morning and wants to work for me. She is coming tomorrow morning I got the rug under the table today. Changed my dress, watered the plants gave Harvey his lesson, Walter is sick. I got supper done up my work and gave Marie her lesson. Jennie wanted me to go to the Opera this eve. But I was too tired, she went. I went down and see Aunt Jen this eve – she is some better.”

      Thursday March 29, 1906 “ Pleasant – this morning I done up my morning work swept and dusted & went up and give the oldest Slough girl her lesson this morning came home finished up my work. Got dinner done up my work, changed my dress have hemstitched some this p. m. An agent called this p.m. selling dress goods, I bot a dress. They just got away when Rob Smith came with my furniture. I got supper doing up the work gave Fred Jackson his lesson came home Jennie came over to see my picture & dress she thinks them fine I then went to play for Rodenberg.”

       Wednesday, August 1, 1906 “Very pleasant – this morning we managed to get up quite early as Father came over and stayed last night. He was quite thoroughly disgusted with things over to the farm – after Bkfast he went to the farm I cleared off my table, picked up the house and went to ironing & got them done this a.m. I had two waists, white skirt pr. pants corset cover pr pillow shams and a pr of sash curtains I got dinner done up my work changed my dress and have sewed. I brought a dress and the ruffle home from Mrs. Greens yesterday and I have commenced sewing up the dress. Got supper done up my work and sprinkled the coarse clothes.”

       Sun. Sept 23, 1906 “Somewhat cloudy it rained a little before we got up and also a small shower this a.m. We did not get up until 8:30 – After Bfast Lizzie done up the work I made my bed and picked up the house. Sumner japalaced the cradle and two white chairs. – I have figured out how much my baby’s outfit cost me. Aunt Jen called this a.m. We had dinner about 2 p.m. Lizzie done up the work. Sumner has been marking goods in Butler’s book this p.m. I have written in my diary. This eve we had popcorn I wrote a letter to mother also to Miss Cooper for more silk and items.”

       Wednesday October 24, 1906 “Very pleasant this morning after breakfast Lizzie done up the dishes and picked up things, so she did not get to ironing until 9 o’clock. I have roasted two pieces of meat a pork and beef roast. I did not sleep very good last night the Dr. left me some pills I took one in the night. Mrs. Burrows did not come today. Tomorrow I shall have my bed brought downstairs. After dinner Lizzie done up her work and finished ironing the clothes and then sprinkled the colored clothes for tomorrow. I have sewed on my pillow cases it is about as much of a job to take the peace [sic] out and sew them up as to make them in the first place…”

       Sunday October 28, 1906 “… C.S. helped me take my bath I layed down a while before dinner. We had a good dinner. Lizzy done up the work. My side is quite sore – so I had to take my corset off. Sumner and I have mended china this p.m. mother’s plate, my tureen cover, milk pitcher, dish that Kate Hamm gave me and the match safe horse’s head. We had popcorn this eve. Wrote items Jennie, Eddie and Parepa called & spent the eve. We had a good visit Eddie thought my cradle and things were just dandy. Today was the last day I wore my corset.”

      Tuesday November 6, 1906 “Very pleasant I did not sleep any from 12 until 4 this morning my salts worked of that I took yesterday before dinner. I had quite severe pains all night and showed quite signs of being sick. After breakfast I made three mince pies. Jennie came over and brought over hat and fur that she got yesterday they are lovely she was quite surprised when I told her how I felt – she thinks I will be sick before long, we fixed my bed this a.m. and have got everything in readiness, she got me a blanket  and some insense yesterday. I roasted a big piece of meat and made two cakes after dinner. C.S. helped me wash my feet this m I was weighed 139.”

       Friday November 9, 1906 “I had pains all last night Sumner went after the Dr. about 10 as I had them every 10 or 15 minutes about 12 he went down to the livery and had them go after Mrs. Riggs. We had a lunch about 12 then the Dr. he went to bed also Sumner . I sit up until 2 then I went to bed Jennie layed down with me and Mrs. Riggs on the couch. I have been sick all the a.m. got up and sit up a few minutes but was glad to go to bed. After dinner commenced to be hard sick. The Dr. came 10 min to 1 and he give me chloroform until 10 to 4 when my baby girl was born. I was quite sick but they had to take stitches and that was the worse, but I am so thankful to think my baby is all right. It rained this p.m. & poured this eve.”

       Sunday November 11, 1906 “Cloudy and very rainy all day. The Dr. came in this morning and drew my water as I cannot make water. Mrs. Riggs is busy enough now waiting on me but Babe is awful good. … I took castor oil this evening.”

       Monday November 12, 1906 “Cloudy this morning Lizzie washed and did not hang up her clothes for it is raining, so she had to put them a soak. The Dr. came in about m. he drew my water, give me a duche and a injection before he came Mrs. Riggs had just got through washing me so I was pretty near all in by the time he got through with me, and then another thing my milk has been coming in today. I was pretty blue this p.m. Sumner was over Jennie came in about 4 and stayed until 5. I felt some better after she come. Sumner did not work this evening I feel better at bed time. Mrs. Crabb called to see how I was. I took a quieting powder this eve.”

       Thursday November 15, 1906 “Cloudy and cold Nellie came over this a.m. she wanted some newspapers she did not stay long, before I eat my breakfast I took another dose of cascara also have taken some salts after I eat. Mrs. Riggs tended to Baby then she washed me also gave me two injections this a. m. The Dr. came in this m. and he gave me another dose of salts. I eat my dinner and this p.m. my bowels have commenced to move and I have had business, they moved five times. I got so I can sit on the vessel in bed, also made water. I am pretty tired tonight Sumner’s mother called this p.m. Lizzie is ironing.”

       Friday November 16, 1906 “Very pleasant this morning after Mrs. Riggs got the baby washed and dressed – she tended me. Father came down this a.m. just before dinner. The Dr. came in when he was going home this m. He gave me a duche and then he took out the stitches it hurt but I am so glad to think they are out for they bothered me so. I can move around in bed now. I am not so fraid of those threads, as they felt just like wires sticking into me. Father was down to be examined by the Dr. for his pension. I feel quite good this p.m. … It is a week today since Babe was born.”

        Tuesday November 20, 1906 “Cloudy this morning after I eat my breakfast Mrs. Riggs washed and dressed babe. Jan called to see me this a.m. she thought Pauline was a dandy… after she went Mrs. Riggs tended to me and then she helped me get on my best night dress and Kimona and drawed me out in the sitting room so I eat my dinner in my chair, while the rest eat their dinner. I layed down after dinner and got up again for supper. I stood on my feet today for the first it seems queer I could not walk…”

       Saturday December 22, 1906 “Pleasant but cold. This morning after breakfast Lizzie done up the morning work, baked and swept and dusted. My breast hurts me so that I have given up going to City… I feel awful blue this a.m. I washed and dressed Pauline this a.m. All I do is to tend to her, had got so I could do a good many little things but now I can’t Nursed Pauline tonight and almost killed me. I am not going to nurse her again on that side until it is better…”

       Tuesday December 25 “Pleasant but cold. We had to get up this morning just the same as any other time as any other as Sumner had to open up the store. This morning is xmas but it seems pretty blue to me. Sumner gave me $ 5.00 and I gave him a pair of slippers. I slept pretty good last night but I felt pretty nervous and sick to my stomach. Nellie & Arthur called this a.m. they were going up to my folks on the St. car to spend xmas but we cannot on acct of my breast. The Dr. came at m and lanced my breast. Oh! How it hurt and it pains me so since he lanced it I did not enjoy our chicken very much. This p.m. Pauline has cryed more than she ever did since she was born. This is the bluest xmas I ever saw. Pauline has not even been washed and dressed.”

       Saturday December 29 “Very pleasant and warm this morning Lizzie done up the morning work and done some baking. After breakfast I picked up the house and washed and dressed Pauline, it keeps me quite busy to just take care of Pauline and pump out my breasts and keep the hot poultices on. … Mrs. Riggs called this p.m.  she is worried I will lose the milk in my breast. The Dr. called and said I could go to nursing the baby on that side. I did and it did not hurt much. …”