“What Counts” Case


“What Counts” Case
Shown here is a photograph from the "Unlocking the Diary" exhibit ,on display from December 3, 2010-March 31, 2011 in the third floor rotunda gallery inside Swem Library at the College of William and Mary.

The diaries in our exhibit span the 19th and 20th centuries, and our discussion of the diary brings us into the present day. Our first case, “What Counts?,” introduces you to the range of forms and styles of the diary. “Life in Transition,” our second case, demonstrates how the diary has been used throughout the life cycle by both women and men. “Through Their Eyes: Diarists in Virginia” looks specifically at diaries written by 19th-century Virginia women and our final case, “DiaTribe,” features diaries written by William & Mary students, from the first years of female enrollment at the College to the present day.

This exhibit was curated by students in Prof. Jennifer Putzi’s “Gender and the American Diary” class (WMST 490/ENGL 475) and the Special Collections Research Center staff. All of the diaries and artifacts featured in the exhibit are from the SCRC collections. Student Curators: Kaitlyn Adkins, Greg Benson, Kimberly Clark, Caitlin Finchum, Greg Glazier, Katelin Hill, Shaunna Jardines, Katherine Perkins, Cassie Adair, Ryan Morris, Kali Murphy, Taysha Pye, Sta’sean Ridley, Casey Sears, and Errin Tom; Exhibit design and installation: Chandi Singer, Burger Archives Assistant.

"What Counts" Case

This case seeks to challenge some of the stereotypes and conventions associated with diaries and diary-keeping, forcing a re-evaluation of ‘what counts’ as a diary. Pre-printed books provide more conventional examples of diaries, with which we might be more comfortable, while a scrapbook, printed texts, an audio recording and the internet as a diary medium comprise some of the less traditional examples of diaries. These alternate forms of diary keeping are just as legitimate as paper diaries, and they challenge the more conservative views of the diary.

Sometimes the seemingly traditional diary is more complicated than it initially appears. The diarist chooses how to use the page. What does it say when there are entries layered on top of one another? Or materials tucked away inside the pages?

This is only a small glimpse into the diversity of what can be considered a diary.

Elizabeth Chaplin Diary, 1862.
Elizabeth Chaplin was an abolitionist and Union supporter from Massachusetts who utilized a predated diary to track everything from weather conditions to the state of the war in 1862.

Elizabeth C. Chaplin Diary Transcription
Sunday, Feb 16, 1862. Ther. 7 above- about 2 in. Friday, February 15, 1861 of light snow fell last night- wind N. Westerly this morning and light- 10 o’clock wind rising clear. P.M. clear and fine but cold- wind moderating.

Monday, Feb 17- Ther. About 1° below- the coldest for the winter as yet. Some cloudy- wind light from W.- Noon- clouds thickening and hazy. Read letter from S.R. Niles- Boston. P.M. by the papers Saturday 16 we have news of the Surrender of the Rebel Fort Donnellsonon Sunday morning with Gen. Johnson and Gen. Buckner and 1500 troops- the Bells here and in So. Reading and Stoneham were rung and much rejoicing was manifested on the occasion. Evg- weather thick with appearance of snow.

Bette Movern Diary, 1947-1948.
Bette Movern’s diary is a typed account of a U.S. Army major’s wife’s travels in post-World War II Europe. It was never published, but her effort to type, format and edit as well as including a larger commentary on political and social issues suggests that she intended for it to be.

Barbara Gabowitz Scrapbook Diary, 1953-1958.
The scrapbook of Barbara Gabowitz documents her time as a teenager in a Jewish summer camp, Camp Tel Hai, in Jamison, Bucks County, Pennsylvania, from 1953-1958. Many of the pages include photos of fellow campers and love letters to and from boyfriends.

Esther Zak Diary, 1977.
Esther Zak lived and wrote in Valparaiso, Indiana from 1973-1994. Her diaries begin when she was 59 years old and end when she was 80. As Zak chronicles her health and wellness, we might look to this diary for insight into how diarists understand and write about age and the aging body.

Esther Zak Diary Transcription

Sunday 9 January10°
1977 9th day – 357 days follow

Leonard went to church this morning. This was the Sunday when our names were among the seven members the Congregation prayed for. Each Sunday they pray for seven families and it takes over three years to include everyone. I’m feeling a little better each day and today I was up for several hours. I washed two loads of our three weeks washing. Ed and Ann visited us in the afternoon. We were glad to see them. It’s pretty lonesome when you’re housebound for three weeks.

From the Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library at the College of William and Mary. See swem.wm.edu/scrc/ for further information and assistance.
By W&M Libraries on 2010-12-06 17:37:08

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