Diaries of Girls and Women captures and preserves the diverse lives of forty-seven girls and women who lived in Minnesota, Iowa, and Wisconsin between 1837 and 1999—young schoolgirls, adolescents coming of age, newlywed wives, mothers grieving the loss of children, teachers, nurses, elderly women, Luxembourger immigrant nuns, and women traveling abroad. A compelling work of living history, it brings together both diaries from historical society archives and diaries still in possession of the diarists or their descendents.
Editor Suzanne L. Bunkers has selected these excerpts from more than 450 diaries she examined. Some diaries were kept only briefly, others through an entire lifetime; some diaries are the intensely private record of a life, others tell the story of an entire family and were meant to be saved and appreciated by future generations. By approaching diaries as historical documents, therapeutic tools, and a form of literature, Bunkers offers readers insight into the self-images of girls and women, the dynamics of families and communities, and the kinds of contributions that girls and women have made, past and present. As a representation of the girls and women of varied historical eras, locales, races, and economic circumstances who settled and populated the Midwest, Diaries of Girls and Women adds texture and pattern to the fabric of American history.