Saturday, August 20, 2011

Village Life in America

The diary of a young girl sheds light on the mid-nineteenth century .
Village Life in America is a name given to a diary written by one Caroline Cowles Richards, later Mrs. Edmund Clarke, from 1852, when Caroline was 10 years old, to 1872, when she is married and has a family. The writer lived in Canandaigua, New York, in the finger lakes region, with her maternal grandparents, Mrs. and Mrs. Thomas Beals, and her sister Anna, younger by four years. Caroline's mother had died, and their father had sent the girls to be raised by the Beals, as he pursued his career, remarried, and had a new family. He wrote to the girls often. Even with these paltry facts, we can note that the nuclear family was not so stable as we might think in yesteryear, as it was often torn asunder by death, and children may be sent to live with relatives rather than stay with a single parent. This is just one example of the richness of comparisons and insights into mid-19th-century housekeeping, social mores, attitudes, child-rearing, and religious belief and practice that are to be gained from this slim and charming book. (Read entire post.)

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