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[Manuscript diary of child-rearing in early 20th century Colorado Springs]

[Manuscript diary of child-rearing in early 20th century Colorado Springs]


Bierbauer, Nellie. Colorado Springs, CO: 1905. 36 pp. Cards, certificates, and locks of hair laid in. 21x28 cm. Repurposed ledger, 3/4 leather with brown cloth, tooled in gilt, marbled endpapers. Exterior spine split, rubbing to extremities, some foxing to cloth. Hinges renewed. Overall good.

A short, sporadic diary kept by Colorado Springs resident Nellie Bierbauer. The diary opens on January 1, 1905 with a description of her young daughter taking her first communion at their Presbyterian church. Bierbauer wrote every day that month, mostly about household chores, her daughter's developmental milestones, the freezing Colorado weather, and what a champ her husband was. Both were active in their local church and Nellie was also part of her local Ladies Aid Society.

The diary drops off January 30th (like so many New Year's resolutions) and resumes again on June 6th, after the birth of her new baby, Helen Louise Bierbauer. The diary then jumps ahead two years, to June 1, 1908. Sporadic entries for 1908, 1911, and 1912 follow, mostly about the girls. Bierbauer has also pasted in several envelopes with locks of her daughters' hair and letters from her mother-in-law to the girls. In 1918, Bierbauer comments on the death of her mother-in-law (stomach cancer), as well as the death of a pregnant friend and her child, in heartrending detail. We later learn that Bierbauer worked as a nurse in 1918, during the flu epidemic. All members of her immediate family eventually became sick but all survived.

In 1950, she rediscovers her old journal, bemoaning the fact she didn't keep it up "but along came Helen, with her three months colic and I had my hands full." In 1964, the year after Elizabeth's death, she attempts to catch up on some of the family's history. They were "very close knit," she writes. Her last entry, from that same year, sees her living in California and describes the purchase of a new Ford.

All in all, this diary is a charming, rare survival of a western American woman's description of day-to-day life. (340) $225.00

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