1913 Diary Kept by a Kansas Husband and Wife as They Farm, Work and Raise their Young Family

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 On offer is a very neat diary kept for half the year by a middle-aged Kansas farmer, and the second half of the year by his wife, offering dual perspectives from the same household. 

The authors of this diary are Charley Wesley Mitchell (1867-1949) and his wife Annettie (Nettie) Hill Mitchell (1874-1958). They lived in Garden Township, Cherokee, Kansas. Charley works mostly as a carpenter, helping build or repair houses in the area as well looking after his small farm holding. Nettie works at a store and cares for the children. Charley and Nettie had two children, Glenn (1895-1983) and Avis (1902-1964). 

Writing every day in 1913, Charley and Nettie give an excellent view of daily life in a small community in Pennsylvania. Between January 1 and June 21, Charley keeps the diary and reports on the family’s daily lives. Excerpts follow:

“Fine day. Nettie worked at store part of the day. Don’t feel so well today. Went down town this afternoon. Several men killed and some hurt in mines” [Jan 14]. 

“Wind in north cloudy, chilly. Cleared off about noon and was fine. Worked on Smith’s house. Nettie and Glenn went to see Lejenan Howe Show tonight. President Wilson is inaugurated today” [Mar 4].

“Another fine day most too warm wind in south. I worked on Raymond house. Nettie washed and we went down and voted after Glenn got home. Whiteside elected mayor” [Apr 1].

“Glenn and I went to Riverton and dug up some trees. Avis stayed at Henery’s. Nettie go to Union this eve. She and Acksah stayed at Will Sentmen’s all night”  [Apr 27].

In late June, Charley decided to no longer keep his diary. So, without missing a day, his wife Nettie took it over. It is interesting to see the change in perspective on their lives and daily circumstances. Excerpts follow:

“Rained a little. CW isn’t going to keep this journal any longer. I am going to keep it now. The children went to S.School this morning. Avis went to see Ruth Parmenter this afternoon. Charley and I called on Mr. & Mrs. Brenbaker this eve. Albert Wright came back this eve” [June 22].

“Aweful hot. Cloudy some. Charley filed saws this morning and this afternoon he went to the country to work on silo for Mr. Nenby. Glenn worked around home. I went to W.C.T.U. meeting at Hattie Whiteside’s this afternoon. Avis went to Potters” [Aug 15].

“Windy, rainy. Charley began work for Mr. Shilling at noon. I worked at house cleaning. The children went to church this eve” [Nov 20].

For a social historian, this diary offers an excellent look at daily life for an ordinary American family in the midwest pre-WWI. It would be an excellent addition to a library or collection for use in a gender studies program as it shows in ways large and small the various roles that men and women had in early 20th century rural America.

The diary measures 6.75 inches by 4.25 inches and contains 365 pages. It is 100% complete. The cover is in good condition as is the binding. The pages are in good condition and the handwriting is legible.

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