DAISY H. WOODS [Mrs. GEORGE WOODS]
Title: 1934 - 1939 ORIGINAL GROUP OF FIVE  DEPRESSION ERA DIARIES HANDWRITTEN BY THE MATRIARCH OF A FARMING FAMILY DOING QUITE WELL FOR THE TIMES
Book Condition: Good+
Size: 12mo - over 6¾" - 7¾" tall
Publisher: AUSTINBURG, OHIO, ASHTABULA COUNTY  1934
Seller ID: 0002192
On offer is an interesting group of five  manuscript diaries exemplifying the life of a prosperous farmer's wife and her family in Depression Era and pre-war middle America. Handwritten by Daisy H Woods (nee Herrick), wife to Mr. George Woods, and mother to Dwight and John. Daisy and her family reside in Austinburg Township, Ashtabula, Ohio and her diaries span January 1st, 1934 - December 25, 1939, with the exception of her 1936 diary, which is absent. Daisy is in her mid-40s, a well-meaning Christian (who far too often misses church!) and the backbone of her comfortable, hard-working family. Daisy's diaries paint a fascinating picture of rural life in the early 20th century Ohio, living on a busy farm that backs into an large wooded expanse, wherein the farm runs all year around - gardening and berry picking in the summer, canning in the fall, preparing and selling animals in the winter and tapping for maple syrup in the spring. Each family member plays a role. The boys and men work tirelessly building, ploughing, feeding animals, and helping neighbouring farmers in exchange for help on their own land. The women, or in this case, the woman, Daisy, works too. She is the family sales representative, making near-daily trips to nearby Geneva and "Ash" (which is where she goes when she goes into town) to sell the farm's bounty. Daisy sells butter, cream, chicken, maple syrup and sausage, and proudly records what she has sold each trip in her diary. She is also the chronicler of the weather. The day's weather tends to begin most of her journal entries. She is also a proud and loving mother, who frets when her eldest son Dwight is away from home working and rejoicing when he returns home for visits or to stay and work. Since Dwight and husband George are away so often, Daisy babies young John, who she brings with on most of her outings to town, and coddles when he becomes ill, allowing him to stay home from school for longer than he needs to on a few occasions. The Woods family offers an alternative view on life during The Great Depression. They are not victims of the Depression. Rather, they are thriving. They own a car (a Dodge), they wash their clothes in a washing machine, they buy pigs from the neighbours and pick up odds and ends on most of their trips to town, Daisy hosts traveling salesmen and considers purchases, such as the Singer brand sweeper which, she claims, she "doesn't like at all". Through visitors to the Woods' home and farm readers are introduced to many of the local families of Austinberg, Ohio. We meet the Hendersons, the Goodwins, the Warrens, the Ranbels, and many, many more. Daisy's is something of a hub of social gatherings, to the point that she will make frustrated note on days that she does not receive visitors. Perhaps this is why Daisy is so interesting. She is the consummate mother and hostess, yet she bucks gender norms in other ways. Stated plainly, Daisy just doesn't like to work very hard. Of course she churns butter. Of course she cleans and bakes. But…a common day for Daisy is one where she writes about bustling around and accomplishing little, followed by a meticulous summary of how back breakingly hard the men of the house labored. For example, on August 1st, 1938 she describes the hard labour her sons and husband engaged in all day long and concludes with, "I didn't do much all day". She makes plans, she gest distracted, the day passes her by, yet her boys and husband are often gone for days at a time, working in the woods, on the farm, in the fields. Daisy's affinity for avoiding work is exemplified during the months of January-March, 1937, when the Woods family take in victims of the Ohio Flood of 1937. Daisy's friends Nerlie and Martha come to stay, along with their husbands and children. The husbands help on the farm and Nerlie and Martha do Daisy's chores. In fact, it's not until January 27, 1937 that Daisy even alludes to the reason her friends and staying with her, when she states, "this flood disaster is getting worse and worse". Prior to that she simply lists off who did the ironing, washing, and cleaning each day. Later she gives more detail about the assistance she and her family gave to the flood victims, but by late-February Daisy becomes bored with the charity and frustrated with her guests' children. On February 28, 1937, 14-year-old Jack is kept home from school sick by his mother and Daisy states, "Jack stayed home sick? Was able to watch every move any of us made…" (funny because she would often keep her own son, John, home sick for any number of reasons!). Daisy finally finds relief on March 5: "well they finally got moved, got away about noon". Daisy has kept a thorough and detailed account of her life and the life of the men she loves, the friends she chats with and the world she inhabits. Her diaries give life the farmers of Ohio and to a class of people who work hard and manage to avoid the pitfalls of the Depression, thriving when others flailed. All of the Woods diaries are in very good condition and in the back of some of them she has kept a ledger of funds in and out, which give a sense of the commerce of the time. It is easy to imagine Daisy and John in Geneva selling butter and noting the buyer and the price in the back of the diary. These diaries are an important asset to the collection of anyone interested in the history of farming or of life in the early 20th century told from a woman's perspective.Overall G+.
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