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Women's Manuscript Collections

Women's archives and manuscripts collections at the Booth Family Center for Special Collections, Georgetown University Library, Washington, D.C.

Diaries / Journals

Diary vs Journal Definition

Diary (n.) - A daily record of events or transactions, a journal; specifically, a daily record of matters affecting the writer personally, or which come under his personal observation (Oxford English Dictionary)

Journal (n.) - Commonly, a chronological record of events. Types of journal range from personal diaries to technical, non-personal records such as financial accounts, scientific and  computer logs.

Diary and Journal are virtually synonymous; although the term Diary tends to refer especially to a record of personal experience of events.

Women's Diaries: Secondary Sources


  • Christina Rossetti to Algernon Charles Swinburne (John S. Mayfield/Swinburne Series, GTM830101 -- 2 letters to Swinburne, Folder 1:46 @ 5/D/7).
  • Christina Rossetti (Miscellaneous Manuscripts 1 Gamms245,  3 letters/notes in Folders 14:14, 15, 16 @ 8/A/4. Note reference to the Victoria Press (founded by Emily Faithfull, 1860).
  • Cram sisters (Franklin Sanborn papers GTMGamms229). Letters (1851-1856) of Catharine Cram, as well as those of her sister Sarah, provide interesting details about the lives of literate women of the time through references to their reading material, literary societies and clubs of which they were members, and the lectures they attended by Emerson, Margaret Fuller, Theodore Parker, and the like. The letters are also testimony to the often precarious health of these young nineteenth-century women who suffered various debilities from common eye strain to the terminal illness of Sarah Cram, the progress of which is charted virtually letter by letter from 1855 to 1856 by her sister Catharine. The Cram family was distantly related to Sanborn, and it was through Catharine Cram that he met his wife Ariana Walker. The collection includes other female correspondents to Sanborn: his cousin Helen Moore, and friend Sarah Greene.
  • Susan Decatur, 16 letters received from Congressman, dated between 1831 and 1845, re her claim to a pension addressed to Congress. (Stephen and Susan Decatur, GTMGamms245)
  • Susan Decatur, 1 letter dated 1828 (Miscellaneous Manuscripts GTM130701, Folder 4:9.1)


Women as Letter Writers

19th Century Women's Scrapbooks

Scrapbooks were containers of keepsakes and mementos, as well as a form of communicating culture (style and taste) and documenting friendships. Read the fascinating article "From scrapbook to Facebook: a history of personal media assemblage and archives" by Katie Day Good (2012).

The Booth Family Center for Special Collections holds two noteworthy examples of scrapbooks kept by 19th century women. Follow the links below.

19th Century Online Resources

Researching 19C Women's Manuscripts

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