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Mary Francis Alderton Diaries - MS 82
The diaries of Mary Francis Alderton were inventoried and and transferred to the Center for Archival Collections in September 1977 from the City Building, Tiffin, Ohio. The collection, consisting of four diaries, covers the period 1903-1919 and reflects the daily activities of Mary Francis Alderton while residing first in Saginaw, Michigan, and later in Tiffin, Ohio.
The register was prepared by Gail Lee Dubrow, American Culture Program, Bowling Green State University, in March 1980, and revised by Ann Bowers, Curator of Manuscripts in July 1982.
Mary Francis Feasel, born May 22, 1851, grew up near Kansas, Ohio--a small rural community in Seneca County. Mary Francis lived a seemingly uneventful childhood and adolescence among what could be characterized as an extended family of grandparents, parents, brothers and sisters (eight), and uncles, aunts, and cousins, all of whom were relatively prosperous farmers.
Mary Francis married farm laborer and occasional preacher Archibald E. Alderton, on March 15, 1877. In 1895, they moved to Saginaw, Michigan, where Archie's relatives resided. Archie died on April 23, 1911, from complications after having his leg amputated, a result of being hit by a runaway horse. Mary Francis became the ward of Archie's brother G. A. Alderton, until she moved back to Kansas in June 1912. At this time she became the ward of her brother-in-law, Louis Glick, and was declared an imbecile by the Seneca County Probate Judge. Her land, inherited from her father, was sold and she was moved to a home in Tiffin, Ohio. In 1920 she became a ward of the county and was moved to the Seneca County Home where she died on April 9, 1932.
Mary Francis maintains short daily entries in these diaries primarily of her activities and purchases. Her activities consist of housework, gardening, sewing, canning, baking, reading the Bible or the newspaper (she received a Tiffin newspaper while residing in Saginaw), and attending church and meetings of various women's groups, e.g., Ladies Aid, Women's Missionary Society (both within the Methodist Church), and the local Women's Christian Temperance Union. Listed with the description of her activities are purchases made and other monies spent; e.g., groceries, clothing, rent, dues, and church offerings. Mary Francis appears quite meticulous with her entries, providing details on specific purchases made and housework accomplished, and even chastising herself when failing to write the daily entries because of ill health.
Through the diaries one learns that Archie works for his brother, G. A. Alderton, as a bookkeeper in G. A.'s wholesale store; that Mary Francis and Archie had a daughter, Ellen, who died at a young age; and that Mary Francis is unhappy living in Saginaw--an almost constant unhappiness brought on by loneliness, fear of the city, worry about their financial condition, and anger at not being socially accepted by Archie's relatives. In addition, she and Archie have marital problems resulting from Archie's verbal and physical abuses of Mary Francis and her suspicions that Archie is committing adultery. Also Mary Francis suffers from many ailments including fevers, constipation, head colds and sore throats, inflamed tonsils, rheumatism and general pains of the heart, stomach, lungs, kidneys, and feet. Some of these ailments may be psychosomatic as, according to the diaries, she takes both medication and undergoes shock treatment by a series of doctors.
These diaries, covering a sixteen-year period in Mary Francis' life, provide an excellent case study of the mind of a troubled woman during the early years of the twentieth century. The diaries provide a sound source for a psychological approach to the study of a particular time period in history. The first two diaries are complete and well organized. However, the latter two are sporadic and sometimes incoherent and thus pose some difficulties for the researcher.
Arranged chronologically--photocopies available.
Describes in detail Mary Francis' life with her husband, A. E., her chores and illnesses.
This period includes the death of Mary Francis' father (1904) and the fatal accident of her husband (1911). This volume has many more routine entries, e.g., "at home doing my work" and routine household accounts (which include computations). But Mary Francis continued to include narrative entries, particularly on the subject of her husband's injury and her adjustment period following his death. Entries are somewhat disorganized.
Sporadic entries for the period 1911-1914. Some entries from 1918 and 1919. Includes the period when she moves back to Tiffin. More of a "notebook" than a diary, though it still contains narrative entries on Mary Francis' health, the weather, her associates and activities. Much of the diary, however, is a record of household accounts and calculations.
This volume is disorganized, but unlike the third one it isn't numbered, which makes the chronology more difficult to establish. There are a few entries from 1914-1915, but most are concentrated in the 1916-1917 period. Mary Francis includes some religious writings in this volume, e.g., "Christian Unity."
- Diary, 1903-1906
- Diary, 1904, 1906-1911
- Diary, 1911-1914; 1918-1919
- Diary, 1914-1917
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