Women's Diary Writing: A Resource Guide

This site is dedicated to scholarly resources about women's diary* writing. The site's original purpose was to compile sources on 19th century American women's diary writing, but has expanded to include a larger scope of diary writing and criticism. The expansion was made to include more sources, as well as to provide resources to a larger audience.

By the 19th century, writing in a diary had become an established way of recording events, impressions, and stories of daily life. Women of all social classes wrote about their lives, many using diaries as an escape from the stress of their daily duties. Diaries can be used for all sorts of purposes, and each diary is a text unto itself. Many scholars have drawn valid comparisons across collections of diaries, but researchers must remember to consider each diary individually before making similar points.

The are many facets in the study of women's diary writing. A researcher must consider the writer's historical context, personal story, and her motivations for writing. When lucky enough to read the original documents, the researcher should pay attention to changes in handwriting, symbols or drawings, and changes in language or code, among other things. Regardless of format, a researcher should also consider what is said, what is implied, and what is left out of a diary. If the researcher is consulting a revised, published, or otherwise altered version of the text, they must also consider the context, position, and motivations of the transcriber, editor, publisher, and any other person involved in the reproduction of the diary. A researcher must also consider her own context, position, and motivations.

Choose from print, digital, and additional resources to find a variety of books, articles, and websites to consult.

*I have chosen to use diary as an all-encompassing term for diaries, journals, log books, and other reoccuring texts generally classified as life writing.


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