Guide to the Nancy A.W. Priest Diary, 1856
Collection number: MS 257
About Nancy A.W. Priest (1837-1870)
Nancy Amelia Woodbury Priest was born in Winchendon, Massachusetts in December 1836
to Francis and Sophia Priest. As a teenager, she moved to Hinsdale, New Hampshire
and worked in a mill. She was educated at a common school and enjoyed reading and
writing. She began writing poetry when she was very young and composed her
best-known poem, "Over the River," around 1856 when she was working in the mill.
Over the course of 1855-1859, Nancy published five poems, under various names
including her own, as well as Lizzie Lincoln, and others. In 1865, she married
Arrington C. Wakefield in Winchendon, Massachusetts. In September of 1870, Nancy
contracted typhoid fever and died. She left behind her husband and three young
children, the youngest just an infant. Her mother, Sophia Priest, collected her
poems in a book titled Over the River, and Other
Poems and published them in 1883, thirteen years after Nancy's
About the Nancy A.W. Priest Diary
This diary was written over the course of the seven months between January and July
of 1856, while Nancy Priest was working in a mill in New Hampshire. It contains
drafts of poems. Several of her entries reflect a low self-esteem and melancholy and
some include some suicidal ideation. Subjects on which she wrote include her
work in the mill, her time spent with friends, activities she took part in around
town, and going to church. Included with the diary is one photograph in fair
condition of Nancy Priest, labeled but undated.
This collection is open.
Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions
about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.
Nancy A.W. Priest Diary, 1856, MS 257, Milne Special
Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH,
Purchase: Carmen Valentino, August 2014 (Accession number: 2014.16)