The writers represented in this collection are men and women who lived and worked in
New Hampshire during the latter half of the 19th century. All except one diary dates
from 1856-1911. The writers were men and women, aged early adulthood through later
life, and mostly rural. 2-3 individuals were from larger towns such as Manchester or
Salem, while the rest were from farms or rural communities. While most were farmers,
a few other trades are represented, such as stone cutting, wagon repair, and
The diaries cover a broad cross section of the state, mostly focusing on farming,
agricultural cycles, weather, family life, and social life and customs. Several
individuals mention specific details of weather, crop varieties, lumbering and stone
cutting trades, and trades of goods and services. Nearly every volume is rich with
genealogical information of the family and surrounding townspeople. For more detail,
see specific folders described below.
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.
[Identification of item], [Folder Number], [Box number], New Hampshire Diaries
Collection, 1856-1951, MC 311, Milne Special Collections and Archives,
University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.
Series of Purchases from Carmen Valentino Rare Books, ca. 2000-2017.
Arrangement is alphabetical by town where the writer lived or is presumed to have
|Folder 1||Anonymous Woman's Diary, near Bradford, 1871
The woman appears young, and does not yet have children (or they are not
mentioned as such). Frequent mentions are made of John, who appears to be a
husband or brother. Two aunts are named – Sally, and Mary from Bradford. The
author appears to live between Concord and Bradford and frequently travels
to both. At least once she went as far as Newport, NH for a ball. Farm labor
is mentioned little or not at all.
The dairy primarily mentions the comings and goings of its author and her
friends, most of whom are named (e.g. John Mugridge, Frank Fuller, Mollie
Whicher, Maggie Canelle (or possibly Carnell), Frank Saffon and his wife
Ellen). Frequently the author accompanies John as they drive various friends
back and forth from home or from the depot or post office. The back of the
diary contains an itemized list of purchases and income/expenditures for the
year, which suggest that the author was an accomplished seamstress.
|Folder 2||Fred Henry James Diaries, Boscawen, 1890-1892
Fred Henry James (7 March 1868-26 November 1939) was a prominent businessman
and town politician in Boscawen, NH. Beginning in 1901 he was the
postmaster, part owner of James and Wheeler’s General Store, and proprietor
of a lumbering business, in addition to side work as a publisher and school
superintendent. He was born in Lena Illinois and moved to Boscawen at the
age of six, later marrying Sylvia Marsha Fairbanks (1899-1952) in 1927.
James’ diaries cover the years 1890, 1891, and 1892. Topics include: Dancing
school, fishing, trapping, hunting, carting goods, lumber, names of
townspeople, their activities and travels, weather and temperature,
purchases, financial ledger listing names and goods, and numerous local
events such as dramas, hangings, and ‘meeting’ (church services). Entries
are daily or nearly so for a full three years, and are obviously only three
years out of the many that James kept his diaries.
|Folder 3||C.H.W. Carter, Bow Mills, 1898-1900
The flyleaf of both diaries reads “C.H.W. Carter, Bow Mills, NH”. No
information matching that description could be found in the census or town
directories. Carter was evidently a man who lived in the current town of
Bow. It is unclear if his family lives with him.
Shaky handwriting, often hard to read. Nearly daily entries for three years
detailing weather, goods purchased (e.g. milk and eggs), letters written,
local travels and merchants/townspeople with whom Carter interacted, and
noteworthy events in his immediate world.
|Folder 4||Byron Swett, Deerfield, 1905-1907
The diary is notated “B. Swett, Deerfield, NH 1905”. Byron Swett was born in
New Hampshire in 1853-1854, and died in Deerfield (at that point Rockingham
County) in 1926. He married Elizabeth Mary Whittier (1957-1929) in 1878, and
the couple had at least three children (Nella, Mary, and Walter). The family
ran a dairy farm in Deerfield around the turn of the 20th century.
Nearly daily entries for 1905 chronicle milking, selling dairy products and
buying livestock, planting and harvesting, townspeople, the weather, and the
frequent visits by Doctor Towle (evidently B. Swett was not in good health
at the time). Frequently mentioned are his daughter Nella and the hired hand
Edd Mack. Pages at the end of the diary list boarders taken in for
1905-1907, itemized cash income and expenditures, and miscellaneous other
|Folder 5||Tyrell Family Diaries, Derry, 1910-1911
Alfred H. Tyrrell was born December 5 1848 in Worchester MA and died March 10
1915 in Derry NH. He married Ella Frances Prouty (1853-1937) at Worchester,
and was living and farming in Derry NH by the time their second daughter
Mattie R. (August 1892-19XX). Mattie married Harold N. Griffin (1890-1965)
in December of 1912 and moved to Hudson NH. where she lived at least until
1965. The Tyrrell family farm seems to have been typical family homestead
with a few horses, cows, and a cash crop of several hundred chickens sold
for the eggs and meat.
Alfred’s diary spans March 14 1910-December 31 1910. His entries document the
weather, farm chores, local deaths and fires, goods bought and sold, and
loan payments made on the purchase of the farm. Farm operations are
described in detail: plantings, animal husbandry, struggles to procure
equipment and fertilizer, and the school schedules of his daughters. Three
entries in the (otherwise blank) month of February were written by Mattie
and document the death and burials of sister Mabel (Tyrrell) Clark in 1965
and mother Ella Tyrrell in 1937.
Mattie’s diary spans January 1 1910 - December 31 1911, one volume for each
year. Her daily entries chronicle the precise temperature at 7AM and 9 PM
every day, as well as the weather, Halley's Comet (“got up in the night and
saw the Comet” May 6 1910), what she did that day, where her family members
went, and the turning of the seasons. She describes her handiwork in detail,
doubtless being produced for her future wedding.
|Folder 6||Anonymous Stone Cutter, Franklin, 1883-1887
The author lived and worked in Franklin, NH. The identity of the diary’s
author is not given in the remaining coverless book block, but from
extensive research, one possibility is stone cutter John C. Simonds (born
1859 Boston, died 1927 Winchendon MA). The diary mentions brothers named
Alfred and Newton, as well as documenting the courting of a woman named May
(possible initials M.E.H.) who lives at ‘the Falls’, part of present-day
Franklin. The author is not local to Franklin.
The diary covers January 1st 1883 through June 7 1887, during which the
author worked for Peter Dana (stone cutter) at the Franklin NH quarries
owned by Trussell and Quinby of Concord NH. The pay was $20 per month.
Travels to Laconia and Concord are noted, as well as extensive daily
courting of a woman named May. The author is a rising member of the Odd
Fellows’ Merrimack Lodge at Franklin. There are brief named mentions of town
residents and town functions such as dances and socials. The middle several
leaves of the diary contain detailed plans for various carved granite
|Folder 1||Joseph Brown Russel, Langdon, 1888
Joseph Brown Russel (2 February 1822-16 February 1895) was a farmer from
Langdon, Sullivan County, NH. He died of influenza at the age of 73 years 14
days. He was married at the time of his death, but information regarding his
family is elusive. The names Dean and Ira are frequently mentioned; it’s
possible these are sons. His wife may have been named Saphronia.
The diary covers the year 1888 with daily entries detailing the weather, work
performed, travel, local events (“W. A. Birdwell barn fell” – 15 Jan. 1888),
local funerals, and work around the farm. “Choreing”, “drawed logs”, and
shoveling roads are common entries. In the spring of 1888 he had 90 sheep, 5
steers, pigs, chickens, and a team of oxen which generated income for the
farm when they were loaned to neighbors. He also boarded farm laborers and
their horses. Income and expenses are interspersed within the entries,
especially trips to a blacksmith named Mr. Beckwith. Towards fall the farm’s
major cash crop was apples, sold in neighboring towns in quantities of 70-80
bushels at a time.
|Folder 2||Mary Hutchinson Thayer, Manchester, 1856
Mary Hutchinson was born in Francistown or Lyndeborough NH in 1822, and died
in Manchester on May 20th 1900. She married George W. Thayer of Boston
(1822-1882) on the 28th December 1843 at Francistown NH. Their children were
Charles H., George W. A., Emma, and Mary Ella. The family was living in
Manchester by 1856.
The flyleaf of the tiny diary reads “Mary H. Thayer, Manchester, NH”. Entries
record purchases of household goods such as fabric, eggs, milk, and
drygoods, as well as monies paid and earned for housekeeping. The comings
and goings of family and friends are frequently mentioned, especially those
of her husband George who makes frequent trips to Boston.
|Folder 3||John Edward Baker, Manchester, 1891-1894
John Edward Baker (18 February 1874-1933) was the son of carpenter George
Washington Baker and Sarah M. Martin of Manchester, NH. At the time of the
diary’s writing he was a high school student.
The diary covers the period of January 1st 1891 through January 1894. Baker
discusses his father’s work as a carpenter, family life, local travel,
politics, and his studies (e.g. lyceum, debating, and lectures). The diary
ends partway through a description of a trip to the 1893 Chicago World’s
Fair. The writing is more detailed than many contemporary accounts, giving a
greater glimpse into the thoughts and motivations of the author.
|Folder 4||Nettie Davis Holmes, New London, 1902
: Nettie Davis Holmes (July 1867-19 Aug. 1913) was born and lived in New
London, NH. She married carpenter Arthur Walter Holmes (1864-1946) in 1894.
They had four children, two of whom (Shirley b. 1898 and Marjorie b. 1900)
are often mentioned in the diary as ‘the babies’.
The diary paints a rich picture of daily life in rural New Hampshire at the
turn of the 20th century. Most entries consist of the details of farming,
visiting, waiting for the mail, quilting, washing, and other domestic
|Folder 5||James Hersey Butler, Nottingham, 1856-1857
James Hersey Butler (September 27 1811-1893) was born and lived in
Nottingham, NH. At the time of this diary he was married to his second wife,
Harriet A. Amsden (1926-1899). He made his living as a lumber inspector and
salesman. He was also active in the NH Agricultural Society, the NH
Democratic Party, local banks, and was appointed judge of the court of
The diary covers the period between January 1 1856 and 11 January 1857. In
addition to the weather, each day briefly records his travels and with whom
he met or stayed. Common destinations include Concord, Portsmouth (taking
orders for shipbuilding lumber), Exeter, ‘Contookokville’ or Contoocook, and
occasionally Maine and Boston. Given that he traveled by train, horse,
carriage, and by foot, the amount of miles he covered each day is
impressive. He was also involved extensively in the NH Democratic Party,
attending a Convention (Feb. 1856), Caucus (March 1856), a series of Town
Meetings in March and April, and other prominent political events. He barely
mentions his family, except to say that he and his wife attended a ball
given at Exeter in January.
|Folder 6||Nellie Stanley, possibly Salem, 1868-1898
The flyleaf of the diary contains a very faint inscription which possibly
reads “Nellie Stanley” and contains several other words too faint to read.
The identity of the author is not certain.
This diary seems to have been kept only in summers between 1868 and 1898,
when the young author traveled extensively throughout New England during the
summer months. She describes taking trains, steamships, stagecoaches, and
walking to reach such destinations as Franconia Notch NH (1868), Gorham ME
(1882), Bar Harbor and Winter Harbor ME (1898), and Prospect Harbor ME
(1898). The insides of the back and front covers of the diary contain names
and towns of about 15 individuals named Stanley, and references to a
historical land grant – these appear to have been genealogical notes.
|Folder 7||Ivory Stevens Loud, Sanbornville, 1900
Ivory Stevens Loud (7 February 1842 Newfield ME - 8 December 1900 Wakefield
NH) was a lumber dealer, train station agent, postmaster, six time
Wakefield-Sanbornville selectman, and businessman. He married Ella M Davis
(1844-1885) in the mid 1860s, and after her death remarried Amanda L.
Waldron (1853-1906) in 1887. Several children were born within each
The diary covers the final year of Loud’s life, January 1st to December 1st.
It mainly concerns his lumber dealings, the weather, and local politics and
deaths. It is likely that Loud worked as a foreman for the large
Sanbornville lumber operation Sanborn and Willey, as he mentions upwards of
80 horses pulling lumber into the yard in one day. Different foreman and
teamsters are mentioned almost daily: Morris, Fowler, Cotton, and others. He
mentions travels to local towns such as Wolfboro, and notes that he was
elected selectman for the sixth time in a row on March 13 1900. The diary is
|Folder 8||Elizabeth M. “Lizzie” (Angell) Lear, Sunapee, 1882
Elizabeth M “Lizzie” Angell was born near Sunapee in 1853 and died there
March 29th 1895. She married George Edwin “Ed” Lear (1849-1933) on November
2 1881, about two months before the diary started. Her husband was also
local to Sunapee and made his living in a home shop as a shingle maker.
Daily entries cover the entire year. The usual cycles are present – meeting
on Sunday, washing on Monday – but there are also extensive records of
visiting with family and friends. Activities include knitting, quilting, rug
braiding, spinning, sewing, singing, dancing, and planting. A brief cash
expenditure list in the back of the diary lists the price of her sewing
machine as $28.00.
See also: MC 311, Box 3 Folders 1-2: Lear Family, Sunapee, 1864-1951
|Folder 1-2||Lear Family, Sunapee, 1864-1951
George Edwin Lear was born in May 1849 in New Hampshire, and married
Elizabeth M. Angell (1853-1895) in Sunapee in 1881. The date of his death is
unknown. Their son Charles Edwin Lear was born in Sunapee on May 7 1894 and
lived there until his death in 1971.
This collection consists of four diaries kept by George Edward Lear for the
years 1864, 1865, 1868, and 1877, and two diaries written by Charles Edward
Lear for the years 1928 and 1951.
The four diaries of George Edward Lear contain nearly daily brief entries
(often 8 words or fewer) detailing the weather, work on his own farm, and
work performed for others as a farm laborer. Detailed cash accounts are at
the back of each volume. The two diaries of his son Charles are slightly
more detailed but also focus on the farm life and visits with neighbors,
livestock purchases, plantings and harvestings, and related activities.
See also: MC 311, Box 2 Folder 8, Elizabeth M. “Lizzie” (Angell) Lear,
|Folder 3||Addie A. Rand, Warner, 1872-1875
Addie A. Rand (b. 6 August 1857, d. 18 April 1952) was born in Warner, NH.
She married lumber dealer Austin Herbert Chaney (1855-1900) at Warner on
November 24 1881.
The diaries cover two separate years, 1872 and 1895, during which time Addie
lived at home with her parents in Warner. Her entries note weather in
general terms, as well as housework, baking (often 15-25 pies in one day),
sewing, quilting, letters, and school (“New teacher today. I don’t think I
shall like her.”). She also noted dances, oyster dinners, and singing
parties she attended with her friends. The second diary concludes with the
death of her brother Freddie.
|Folder 4||Lindley H. Osborne, North Weare, 1879-1890
Lindley H. Osborne (December 22 1833-May 2 1920) was a farmer who was born
and lived and North Weare, NH. He and his family were members of Weare
Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). He married
Lucy P. Thorndike of Weare (1835-1919) in 1863. Their sons were Charles H.,
Henry T., and Alfred. Osborne was an educated individual who served on the
board of (and perhaps attended) the Hopkinton Academy.
The book is half commonplace book and half diary – extensive clippings and
quotations are glued in and copied onto specific days. They are mostly to do
with farming, building, weather, the price of goods, and moral tracts. Some
quotations are from Scripture or from Quaker leader George Fox. There are
also land surveys and descriptions of local features. Osborne evidentially
traveled within New England, and mentions being at Amesbury MA and the 1882
New England Yearly Meeting (Rhode Island). His farming records are quite
detailed, down to the specific varieties of pears grafted and apples
|Folder 5-6||Charles H. Osborne, North Weare, 1873-1899
Charles H. Osborne (September 29 1865 – 27 December 1923 Weare, NH) was the
son of farmer Lindley H. Osborne, (1833-1920). The family were members of
Weare Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Charles
attended Haverford College in Haverford, Pennsylvania, graduating as a
teacher in 1893 at the beginning of the diaries. He eventually moved back to
East Weare and lived the rest of his life there.
The diaries span the years 1893-1899 in six volumes, with 1896 missing. They
chronicle Osborne’s graduation from Haverford College, subsequent teaching
appointment at Wilmington College (Ohio) in 1894, and struggles to find a
full time teaching job from 1895 through 1899. He was very educated, and
regularly attended YMCA, Temperance League, and lectures in his spare time.
Sports are frequently mentioned, but not music. Wilmington Yearly Meeting,
Philidelphia Yearly Meeting, and New England Yearly Meeting are mentioned.
After finishing his teaching job at Wilmington College, Osborne moved home to
the family farm in Weare NH. Diaries from this time depict visits to family
and friends, funerals, farm life, and making a living producing maple syrup,
surveying land, and fixing wagons and sleighs. By the end of the century he
is teaching a small one room school with six students at Sugar Hill (part of