Lucy E. Upson diary
Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267
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Overview and metadata sections
Lucy Eagles Upson was born on April 14, 1818, to Leander and Zillah Eagles in Genesee County, New York. The family moved to Noble County, Indiana, in 1838 where Lucy married farmer William Henry (“Henry”) Upson. Lucy and Henry had four surviving children: William Wallace (“Wallace”), Edwin, Arthur, and Zillah. By 1870, the Upson family had moved to Kosciusko County, Indiana. Henry Upson died on January 3, 1884. Lucy Eagles Upson died in 1892, probably shortly after her final diary entry, dated January 27, 1892.
Biographical and Historical Record of Kosciusko County, Indiana 1887 (accessed via Ancestry.com March 15, 2017)1850 Federal Census (accessed via Ancestry.com March 15, 2017)1860 Federal Census (accessed via Ancestry.com March 15, 2017)1870 Federal Census (accessed via Ancestry.com March 15, 2017)1880 Federal Census (accessed via Ancestry.com March 15, 2017)Information derived from the collection.
These four manuscripts are volumes of Lucy E. Upson’s diary, which describes life in Kosciusko County, Indiana, between 1875 and 1892. Upson remarked on the weather, her chores, visitors, various religious services, and other aspects of rural life.
Volume 1 of Upson’s diary covers the period between January 1, 1875 and September 28, 1877. Volume 2 begins with a list of nails and casings purchased. This is followed by entries by another writer, probably Upson’s daughter Zillah, between January 13 and March 31, 1878. Lucy Upson resumed writing in this volume on June 24, 1879 and continued until December 27, 1879. Volume 3 resumes on January 1, 1883 and continues until January 10, 1887. Upson recorded entries for January 1-10, 1887 at the start of Volume 4, but did not copy them verbatim from Volume 3. The last entry in Volume 4 is dated January 27, 1892. Upson made daily entries in her diary apart from several gaps due to moving, illness, and the death of her husband.
Upson’s diary revolved around the agricultural calendar and the rhythms of family life. She recorded her work churning butter, baking breads and cakes, doing laundry, sewing, cleaning the house, minding children, and performing other farm labor. Her children, grandchildren, and neighbors often assisted her, and Upson recorded their movements and her own travels between households. Upson began most entries with a brief observation on the weather, noting thermometer readings in later entries. She and her family frequently attended religious meetings on Sundays, but rarely attended camp meetings and other religious events in the area. She and her family often traveled to nearby towns to sell farm produce, visit the bank, purchase needed goods, or attend local fairs. Her children also made journeys further afield, including several to Chicago.
Volume 1 of Upson’s diary is bound in tan leather with stamped scrollwork along the edges of the front and back covers. The word “DEFINITION” is stamped on the front cover. This volume contains 100 pages of faintly-lined, wove paper with handwritten text in purple and black ink. An inscription at the front of the volume reads “Lucy E. Upson’s Book January 1st 1875.” On the last page is copied “Lucy E. Upson/Boydstons Mills/Kosciusko Co./Ind.” Volume 2 has an orange paper cover with the inscription “Pass Book/W.H. Upson/To/John Graburn Dr.” It contains 32 pages of lined, wove paper with handwritten text in ink and pencil. Volume 3 is bound with marbled paper over boards and has a red leather spine. It contains 96 pages of lined, laid paper with black ink handwriting. The inscription on the first page reads “Lucy E. Upson.” On the second page is an inscription reading “January 4th 1880/ One year after date I promise to pay Arthur Upson or bearer one hundred dollars with interest 8 percent from date value &c./ A.H.” Another entry with the same text dated January 4, 1883[?] is signed “Arthur Henry.” Volume 4 is bound with marbled paper over boards and red leather covering the spine and corners of the covers. The inscription on the flyleaf reads “Lucy E. Upson/Her Diary Book/March 5th 1887.” This volume contains 82 pages of handwritten text in black ink and 86 blank pages.
Item 0077: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0097
Processed and encoded by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, July 2017.
- Climatology--Observations--History--19th century
- Housekeeping--History--19th century
- Women--United States--Diaries
- University of Delaware Library Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
- Finding Aid Date
- 2017 July 10
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library, https://library.udel.edu/spec/askspec/