“Like Dorry, I have decided to keep a journal. It seems to me a very pleasant thing to write down the occurrences of one’s life so that one can read them later.” So writes twenty-year-old Rosanna May Munger in 1886 (January 1 1886, Diary #1). Rose, as she preferred to be called, would go on recording the rhythms of her daily routine until 1945, providing the modern reader with a unique window into the religious, social, and cultural life of an unmarried woman over several decades.
On Friday, the 25th of September, 1942, Hilda Haworth, her husband Walter, and many others left the English Channel island Guernsey for Germany. The diary details life in the camp for a little over a year, and was immensely fascinating to read through. While I knew that the Nazis had set up internment camps for various populations during the war, I had never encountered the story of the Guernsey, which is located off the coast of Normandy, France and was surprised to find that the Germans actually brought many Guernsey residents to camps in Germany.
The United States changed on November 22. The president’s promise was lost and the coverage of the event by television affected all who watched with immediacy and intimacy. The American people experienced the tragedy together.
Identifying authorship of anything is always a long and arduous process, but it is made increasingly difficult when the author is not a famous member of the community. Norfolk, Virginia, was a bustling town at the start of the twentieth century and had an African American population thirsty for rights and acceptance. One such person was the author of the 1902 diary I was assigned to research. While she certainly made an impact on her community, there were no books written about her and only snit bits of information that gave veiled clues to identity. What emerged through my research was the experience of a minority as it fought to find a place in the community.