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Women's history: Diaries and autobiographies

Books, 19th century

Elizabeth Kenning, Memoir of Elizabeth Kenning, 1829

Boone, Martha. Selections from the papers of Martha Boone, late of Birmingham, found after her decease. To which is prefixed a brief memoir. London: Printed by Bensley and Son, 1817. WG37(1817)

Kenning, Elizabeth. Memoir of Elizabeth Kenning, with extracts from her remains. Liverpool Female Penitentiary. Ladies' Committee. Liverpool: D. Marples, 1829. WG36.2.1330

Piozzi, Hester Lynch. Autobiography, letters and literary remains of Mrs. Piozzi (Thrale) 1741-1821. London: Longman, Green, Longman, and Roberts, 1861. WG36.4.1213

Rogers, Hester Ann. Extracts from the journal of Mrs. Hester Ann Rogers, 1756-1794. London: J. Rogers, 1818. WG5.4.R

Warren, Samuel. Memoirs and select letters of Mrs. Anne Warren: with biographical sketches of her family. London: Printed for the author, sold by John Mason, 1832. WG36.4.259

 

Archives: Priscilla Scott-Ellis, 1937-1941

Diaries of the Hon. Priscilla Scott-Ellis (b.1916), daughter of Thomas, 8th Lord Howard de Walden, 1937-1941. 9 vols.  In 1937, Priscilla Scott-Ellis, a member of minor aristocracy, travelled to Spain to support the Nationalist Army fighting the Popular Front government. She trained in first aid and carried out nursing duties at the front-line. For women’s history researchers, the diaries provide a rare insight into the daily life of a nurse in the Spanish Civil War. Archives 415


Microfiche: Mass Observation Archive, 1937-1950

Microfilmed from originals held at the University of Sussex. Humanities microfiche 122

Mass Observation was a social research organisation which collected diaries and surveys written by volunteers, and produced reports summarising the results of their research activities. They attempted to document and examine public opinion on a wide range of issues. The diaries gave many women a unique opportunity to record their thoughts and opinions on public record, making this resource particularly useful for students of social and cultural history from a gendered perspective. The TV film Housewife, 49 was written about one of the contributors, tracing her path from depressed, introverted housewife to active member of the community as a result of her war-work. We hold records from 1937-1950, though Mass Observation is still active today. 

The collection can be browsed chronologically, or a full subject index is available, recording everyday people's views on consumer goods, crime, education, entertainment, family, health, housing, income, marriage, morale, news, propaganda, women, and work.

 

Microfilm: Women’s diaries, 1670-1715

Microfilmed from originals held at the Hertfordshire County Record Office. Humanities microfilm 51

From the series: Women's language and experience, 1500-1940 women's diaries and related sources. Part 1, Sources from the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire County Record Offices.

Reels 5-8 contains a 7 volume diary sequence by Dame Sarah Cowper dated 1700-1715, together with some commonplace books, dated 1670-1684.

A summary of contents is below, or click here for a detailed listing.    

Reels 5-7
Diary volumes: 1 (1700) - 7 (1715)

Reels 7-8
Commonplace books complementing the diary volumes:

1670-onwards, ‘Collections of several things out of History begun about the year 1670’

1673, An alphabetic commonplace book arranged by headings

1675-84, Religious commonplace book

1680, Religious commonplace book


Microfilm: Letters and diaries of the Ladies of Llangollen, 1778-1831

Microfilmed from originals held at the National Library of Wales. Humanities microfilm 387

From the series: Ladies of Llangollen: letters and journals of Lady Eleanor Butler (1739-1829) and Sarah Ponsonby (1755-1831) from the National Library of Wales

The Ladies of Llangollen were two upper-class women from Ireland. Rather than face the possibility of being forced into unwanted marriages, they ran away together in April 1778, setting up home near Llangollen. They attracted the attention of writers such as Wordsworth, Shelley, and Byron, and their home became something of a literary retreat. They were eventually awarded a pension by the King. They lived together for over 50 years, and this collection records their diaries and correspondence, and later related papers. 

A summary of contents is below, or click here for a detailed listing

Reel 1
Sarah Ponsonby: A Journey in Wales, 1778
Eleanor Butler: Diary, 1784
Sarah Ponsonby: Commonplace Book, 1785-1789
Sarah Ponsonby: Geometry, c1785

Reel 2
Eleanor Butler: Journal, 1788-1791

Reel 3
Eleanor Butler: Journal, 1791, 1799, 1802, 1807, 1821
Ladies of Llangollen: Letters, 1778-1831
Letters to Sarah Ponsonby, 1798 (transcripts, 1872)
Poetry, 18th-19th century
Plas Newydd Library Catalogue, 1792

Reel 4
Letters from a Traveller, c1804-1805
Letters from a Traveller, c1805-1806
Album Camilla, 1800-1835
Caroline Hamilton: Album, 1803-1859
Mary Tighe: Psyche, 1804
Disparition de Buonaparte, c1814
Medical Recipes, 1790s

Reel 5
Heraldry, c1801
Un Pere de la Trappe, c1823
Executor's Accounts, 1832-70s
Eva Mary Bell: Correspondence, 1929-1947
Eva Mary Bell: Hamwood Papers, 1920s
Mrs Elinor Goddard: Journal, 1774-1778, 1782-1788
Mrs Elinor Goddard: Journal, transcript, 1872


Microfilm: Women’s diaries, 1650-1937

Microfilmed from originals held at the National Library of Wales. Humanities microfilm 301

From the series: Women's language and experience: women's diaries and related sources, part 4, Sources from the National Library of Scotland and the National Library of Wales

A summary of contents is below, or click here for a detailed listing.

Reel 17
Katherine Wynn diary notes, 1682
Katherine Thomas copy book, c1660
Miss Sparrow’s sayings, 1751
Household Account Book, 1763-1785

Reels 18-20
Elizabeth Baker of Dolgellau diaries, 1778-1786

Reel 21
Mrs Baker letter books, 1779-1797

Reels 22-23
Elizabeth and Sarah Ann Ellis diaries, 1786-1839

Reel 24
Lady Ann Erskine diary and journal, 1824-1826
Mary Rees diary, 1861-1862
Ellen Sophy Rendel journal, 1890-1905
Mrs Clerk housekeeping books and diary, early 19th cent

Reel 25
Mrs Clerk housekeeping books and diary, early 19th cent

Reel 26
Hester Lynch Piozzi diaries, letters and a survey of Brynbella, 1797-1812
See also Mangin, Edward. Piozziana: or, Recollections of the late Mrs. Piozzi, with remarks. London: Edward Moxon, 1833. WG16.95.P