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Women's Diaries and Related Sources

Part 1: Sources from the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire County Record Offices

Scattered throughout the local record offices of England, Scotland and Wales are vital yet neglected sources for the study of women's history.  This project brings together diaries, commonplace books, travel journals and related sources, which describe women's lives and experiences in their own language.

Part 1 is based on sources from the Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire County Record Offices. In all it comprises nearly 100 volumes describing the lives of 25 women for the period from 1670 to 1922.  These include:

  • The diaries (in 7 volumes, with 7 further volumes of commonplace books) of Dame Sarah Cowper, dating from 1670 to 1715.
  • 13 volumes describing the lives of Mary, Harriet, Charlotte and Anne Orlebar in the period from 1751 to 1830, describing their daily lives, the upbringing of their children, social events, and with poetry by Mary.
  • The Commonplace book of Lady Anne Blount, marked on the spine as "Stella’s works". It contains 35 lyrics including one by Alexander Pope.
  • The manuscript autobiography of Frances Stackhouse, from 1794 to 1881.
  • The diaries and travel journals of Frederica St John Rouse-Boughton (covering 1859-1864). Many are gloriously illustrated.
  • The diaries of Jane Johnston (in 23 volumes, 1817-1840, with notes on the living conditions of labourers and servants, charity work, gambling and contemporary amusements) and Louisa Arrowsmith (in 17 volumes, 1792-1837, with much about her garden and visits to the theatre).


"The local record offices of Great Britain hold staggering quantities of manuscripts written by women. Only now is this vast resource being tapped."
Dr Amanda Vickery, Consultant Editor


Editorial introduction
Digital Guide
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