Sometimes diaries are so personal that they don’t comment on big events of the times. Sometimes they seem like nothing more than a terse chronology of the author’s days. Analyzing or even charting the diary by season, work, school, and other activities can provide insight into family and community life. Rather than a running narrative, the researcher finds a wealth of information with which to create a narrative.

This activity highlights some of the ways in which children, neighbors, and community were integrated in the past. What has been lost? What has been retained? What would you like to see regained?

The excerpts in this activity are from a 1911 diary kept by Alice Bushnell, a seven-year-old girl in Strafford, Vermont.