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Works Cited or Quoted On Personal Writing in General
On Letters On Diaries

Major Works Cited or Quoted

[Adams, Abigail, and John Adams], The Book of Abigail and John: Selected Letters of the Adams Family, 1762-1784 ed. L. H. Butterfield, Marc Friedlander, and Mary-Jo Kline (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1975).
Selected correspondence of two accomplished letter writers of the Revolutionary years, with politics, domestic life, and gender perspectives stitching everything together.

[Breckinridge, Lucy], Lucy Breckinridge of Grove Hill: the Journal of a Virginia Girl, 1862-1864 ed. Mary D. Robertson (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1994).
The wartime journal of a young planter class woman in southwestern Virginia, especially telling of a woman’s experience of waiting to hear war news from afar. Her entries blend a young woman’s concern with friendships, reading, and gossip with a dawning sense of nationalism and southern distinctiveness.

Buck, Lucy Rebecca, Sad Earth, Sweet Heaven: the Diary of Lucy Rebecca Buck during the War Between the States, Front Royal, Virginia, December 25, 1861 - April 15, 1865 (Birmingham, Ala.: Cornerstone, [1973]).
A Shenandoah Valley woman in her early 20s, whose diary records military action constantly spilling over into domestic life. Buck’s diary-keeping almost exactly coincides with the duration of the war.

Altman, Janet Gurkin, Epistolarity: Approaches to a Form (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1982).
A very useful guide to thinking about letters and letter-writing in general, raising issues of how the reader and writer interact through the letter, how letters both create and bridge gaps of distance and time, and how letters differ from related forms of writing.

Dickinson, Emily, The Letters of Emily Dickinson, ed. Thomas H. Johnson and Theodora Ward, 3 vols. (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1958). The poet’s collected letters, a good example of how such collections over a long period of time resemble a diary’s account of the writer’s changing perspective on her life.

Dublin, Thomas, ed., Farm to Factory: Women’s Letters, 1830-1860, 2nd ed. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993).
Correspondence home from young New England women working in the textile mills. The letters are filled with youths’ ambitions, accounts of hard work, hopes for family, and, sometimes, criticism of factory work routine.

Escott, Paul D., ed., North Carolina Yeoman: the Diary of Basil Armstrong Thomasson, 1853-1862 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996).
One of the comparatively few nineteenth-century diaries – published or manuscript – written by a non-elite man. Thomasson records his views of his farming practices and economy, his neighbors, religion, and the coming of the Civil War.

Faragher, John Mack, Women and Men on the Overland Trail (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1979).
A path-breaking historical analysis of settlers moving West, discussing distinctions between women’s and men’s immigrant experience based on the different ways they wrote letters about it.

Hampsten, Elizabeth, Read This Only to Yourself: the Private Writings of Midwestern Women, 1880-1910 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1982).
Close and sensitive readings of the letters of ordinary North Dakota farm women, with generous examples from their correspondence, on topics ranging from cooking and the weather to sex and death.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, The Letters, 1804-1864, ed. Thomas Woodson, L. Neal Smith, and Norman Holmes Pearson, 4 vols. (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1984-1987).
Hawthorne’s prodigious output of letters of all kinds, including ones in which he reflects on written correspondence as a literary form. Like Emily Dickinson’s letters, this is a long-term collection which amounts to an extended self-portrait.

Litoff, Judy Barrett and David C. Smith, Since You Went Away: World War II Letters from American Women on the Home Front (New York: Oxford University Press, 1991).
A lively interpretation of the war’s home front and women’s experience of war, work, and worry through a sampling of their letters, happy and sad.

Morgan, Sarah, The Civil War Diary of a Southern Woman, ed. Charles East (New York: Touchstone Books, 1992).
A young Louisiana woman whose diary of the war is a striking combination of objective description and subjective mood. Morgan’s diary is an unusually compelling blend of sharply seen personal details – conversations, flirtations, destructions – and vivid, sometimes panoramic visions of a society turned upside down.

Redkey, Edwin S., ed., A Grand Army of Black Men: Letters from African-American Soldiers in the Union Army, 1861-1865 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
Collected war-front letters from black Union soldiers originally published in African-American and abolitionist newspapers during the war, arranged by geographic place and by topic. Interesting for the overlap of letter form and journalism.

Starobin, Robert S., ed., Blacks in Bondage: Letters of American Slaves (New York: New Viewpoints, 1974).
Letters of all kinds from African Americans in bondage, to family, friends, and the people who owned them. Selections give a sense of the spectrum of slaves’ response to their servitude, from means of adaptation to hints of outright rebellion.

Strong, George Templeton, Diary, 1835-1875, ed. Allan Nevins and Milton Henry Thomas, 4 vols. (New York: MacMillan, 1952).
The diary of an upper class New Yorker, one of the best-known journals of the Civil War era, who fervently supported a Union victory and criticized everyone from Lincoln to Lee.

Ulrich, Laurel Thatcher, A Midwife’s Tale: the Life of Martha Ballard, Based on her Diary, 1785-1812 (New York: Vintage Books, 1991).
An award-winning interpretation of a colonial American midwife’s diary/log book, with many insights into the historical interpretation of diaries in general. Thatcher seamlessly joins her portrait of Ballard’s work and social position to questions of diary-reading and historical method.

Woodward, C. Vann, ed., Mary Chesnut’s Civil War (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1981).
Woodward gives an interesting account in the introduction of his sleuthing work as editor of this complex text (written in part during the war and in part afterwards), including his discovery that earlier editions of this famous South Carolinian’s diary had been greatly altered by editors.

On Personal Writing in General

Fabian, Ann, The Unvarnished Truth: Personal Narratives in Nineteenth-Century America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000).
A wide-ranging look at the nineteenth-century literary impulse to tell about one’s own experiences, especially those thought to provoke amazement, pity, or deep concern. A thoughtful study generally of people’s desire to write about their lives.

Folkenflik, Robert, ed., The Culture of Autobiography: Constructions of Self-Representation (Stanford, Cal.: Stanford University Press, 1993).
Eleven essays on the broad and diverse act of self-invention through writing about one’s life. Essays range from theoretical studies of autobiographical imagination to cross-cultural analyses of autobiographical writing.

Heilbrun, Carolyn G., Writing a Woman’s Life (New York: W. W. Norton, 1988).
A succinct, ground-breaking discussion of the way in which gender and personal writing intersect time and place, through a look at women’s lives in English literature, nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

On Letters

Barton, David, and Nigel Hall, eds., Letter Writing as Social Practice (Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Co., 2000).
In one of the most wide-ranging collections, thirteen essayists look at social settings for the writing of letters, from love letters to prison letters, eighteenth to twenty-first centuries.

Decker, William Merrill, Epistolary Practices: Letter Writing in America Before Telecommunications (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998).
An interesting study of how the materiality as well as the intellectuality of letters shaped people’s relationships and their sense of social bonds before “instant” communication. There is a usefully broad spectrum of correspondence which includes letters of ordinary Americans as well as those from Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emily Dickinson, and Henry Adams. An excellent bibliography.

Earle, Rebecca, ed., Epistolary Selves: Letters and Letter-Writers, 1600-1945 (Aldershot, Eng.: Ashgate, 1999).
Ten essays examining the letter form and letter writing, ranging from the “paper visits” of the eighteenth century to American mothers’ World War II correspondence to sons, government, and each other. A very helpful bibliography.

Emerson, Everett, ed., Letters from New England: the Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1629-1638 (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1976).
Examples from early American history, with a suggestive introduction, bibliography, and note on sources.

Redford, Bruce, The Converse of the Pen: Acts of Intimacy in the Eighteenth-Century Familiar Letter (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986).
A literary critic’s look at the social and intellectual beginnings of the “modern” personal letter. A good blend of historical setting and literary analysis of personal correspondence and its relation to other forms of writing.

On Diaries

Bunkers, Suzanne L., and Cynthia A. Huff, eds., Inscribing the Daily: Critical Essays on Women’s Diaries (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1996).
An excellent collection of 15 essays on the broad cultural significance of reading and writing diaries. The topics range from specific diaries to literary theory, with much commentary on historical context throughout. The editors have a lucid, useful introductory essay in which they relate the diary form to other kinds of women’s literature and thus to the historical roots of gender. There is a useful, wide-ranging bibliography.

Culley, Margo, ed., A Day at a Time: the Diary Literature of American Women from 1764 to the Present (New York: Feminist Press, 1985).
A sampler of women’s journal writing, with 29 excerpts covering three centuries. The pace is necessarily quick, but the volume has a thoughtful introduction on the historical significance the diary as a powerful literary form leading American women to become evermore personally and politically conscious. The bibliography is excellent.

Franklin, Penelope, ed., Private Pages: Diaries of American Women, 1830s-1970s (New York: Ballantine Books, 1986).
Excerpts from 13 lesser-known women’s diaries, including ones written by a 70-year-old Pennsylvanian in the 1830s, a Minneapolis woman coming of age in the 1920s, and a young Japanese-American woman living in the Tule Lake relocation camp during World War II. Franklin has added brief, helpful introductions and “afterwards” sections to frame the women’s experiences.

Gannett, Cynthia, Gender and the Journal: Diaries and Academic Discourse (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1992).
A literary and personal exploration of diaries as spanning popular and academic expression – or, more to the point, diaries are seen as a literary form which opens up specialized academic writing on language and feeling. An emphasis on both women’s and men’s writing is central to the book, and there is a useful bibliography.

Kagle, Steven E., Early Nineteenth-Century American Diary Literature (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1986).
A suggestive typology, with examples, of the century’s diary literature, including diaries of spiritual quest, diaries of travel, diaries of situation, life-long diaries, and philosophical (Transcendentalist) journals. Includes a good bibliography of major nineteenth-century diaries.