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[Detail] The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865

Diary Writing

Diaries or journals in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries often served as family and community histories and were intended to be read by others. The writers of diaries and journals commented on daily life, the weather, and events of the day. While they might give their opinions on particular events, they rarely emoted about their deepest feelings. For example, consider Horatio Nelson Taft's description of his granddaughter's death and that of President Lincoln:

In August little Jessie died, the first child of my son Charles & Sallie. She was about 10 months old and a very sweet child. She was much loved by Mr & Mrs Woodward and by us all. Mr W provided rather extravagantly for the funeral, attending to everything himself, the coffin (of the finest Rosewood) cost $45.00. He paid all expenses.

From "The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865. Volume 2, October 5, 1863"

Taft's diary entries did change over time. Compare the pages shown below. What differences do you note? What might be the reasons for these differences?