1943-1947 Jam-Packed Diary of a Dedicated Teacher on the Home Front Chronicling Daily Life in the Boston Area During WW2

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On offer is a very thorough 5-year diary written by a Massachusetts teacher who comments almost as frequently on the US war effort as she does on her teaching job, about which she is passionate. The diary was written by Gertrude E. Wood of Boston, Massachusetts (b. 1909). There is minimal information available about Wood, however we believe she was born in Maine and moved to the Boston area, where she taught elementary school. 

Begun in 1943, her diary chronicles her day-to-day experiences throughout the war years. When people think of the involvement of citizens in WWII, usually it's the men and women in uniform that come to mind immediately. However, their incredible effort could not have been sustained and ultimately successful without the enormous effort of civilians on the home front. Gertrude is an example of someone keeping things moving in the US while also hawkishly watching and recording the war efforts as they had a big impact on her day to day life and the lives of those around her. Excerpts follow: 

“Reported for surgical dressing work with a group much smaller than usual. Went to the movies with Doris M and Doris F. Fred Astair and Rita Hayworth in “You Were Never Lovelier” [Feb 2, 1943].

“Was one of the few who reported for Red Cross work. Closing days are busy days. Paid $.40 for a cantaloupe. It was good!” [June 2, 1943]. 

“D-Day at last! Not very complete reports yet but it seems that the opposition the first day was not too severe” [June 6, 1944].

“Allied armies across the German order. Tremendous air attacks on Germany. How much longer can she hold out!” [Sept 11, 1944]. 

“Attended War Relief work session at Women’s Club meeting. Information comes that the Red Cross quota has been filled. Fewer casualties than expected” [Oct 25, 1944].

“The new year dawns on a chaotic world. Victory and peace do not seem so near as they did a few months past” [Jan 1, 1945].

“Japan still subjected to heavy bombing. Gen Eisenhower reported as saying unconditional surrender will be required of Nazis and not negotiated” [Mar 28, 1945].

“Publication Club makes a good start. It looks like an interested, enthusiastic staff. Laval of France has been executed” [Oct 15, 1945].

“Pat received word that her brother Fred has reached home. She off to Bridgewater for weekend, Doris to the School Follies, I to church” [Mar 15, 1946].

“Back to school for full session first day including a one hour teacher’s meeting. Gerald Kelly back on the job in Miss Taylor’s place. Miss Kelley carries on” [Sept 9, 1946]. 

“Word comes that the execution of top ranking Nazis has taken place. Goering committed suicide by poison. C and I dine at the Blue Sea Tea Room” [Oct 6, 1946].

“Pat and I go to the “Open Night” lecture at Harvard Observatory. Interesting lecture on the moon. We look at the moon and the Pleiades through the telescope” [Nov 21, 1947]. 

For a social historian, this diary is a goldmine of information about daily life and attitudes in America during WWII. As one would expect from an English teacher, the entries are well-written. Those with an interest in education would find her many remarks about her work and concerns like curriculum development interesting to read. A military historian, especially one focused on the ‘Home Front’, would find this an excellent record of how information about the reality of war on the battlefield was being understood at home. This diary would certainly be a good resource for a Women’s Studies program as it chronicles not only the life and times of a single working woman but also the times when there was an entire social revolution taking place about the role of women in society.

Measuring 4.0x5.5 inches, it contains 365 pages and is 100% complete. The leather cover is in good condition as are the binding and pages. The handwriting is legible. Overall VG. 

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