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Women's Diaries and Related Sources

Part 4: Sources from the National Library of Scotland and the National Library of Wales

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. With the publication of this fourth part we can now offer over 480 manuscript volumes describing the lives of c.120 women between 1650 and 1943.

Part 4 is based on the manuscript holdings of the National Library of Scotland and the National Library of Wales, extending the geographical diversity of the diaries covered by this project. Over half of the volumes date from the 17th and 18th centuries.  These include:

  • Lady Halkett’s Meditations, c1650-1699 - 14 volumes of religious reflections and diary entries, commenting on financial problems following the Civil War, episodes such as the Popish Plot of 1678, and thoughts on widowhood.
  • The diary of Katherine Wynn dates from 1682, and the copybook of Katherine Thomas, c1660, includes verses on the death of her children.
  • The 10 volume diary, 1778-1786, of Elizabeth Baker of Dolgellau, and 19 volumes of the diaries of Elizabeth and Sarah Ann Ellis, 1786-1839.
  • Extensive 18th century diaries of Anne, Lady Stuart, of Castlemilk and Mary Graham, 1781-1791 - the latter offers a different perspective of life in the period detailing her work among the poor. The diaries also describe her travels in Spain and France, and her capture by an American privateer.
  • 9 volumes of diaries and 2 volumes of related materials of Hester Thrale Piozzi (1741-1821)  describing her life at Brynbella, her literary endeavours, meetings, Samuel Johnson and the bluestockings.
  • The correspondence, journals and songs of Lady Nairne and her sisters, Mrs Stewart of Bonskeid, Mrs Steuart of Dalguise, and Mrs Keith of Ravelstone. These cover the period from 1763 to 1847 and provide a remarkable portrait of a scattered family who remained in close contact. They also give sharp insights into literary and artistic taste.
  • The medical journal of Lady Christina Malcolm describing her ultimately unsuccessful struggle with breast cancer, 1829-1831.


Editorial introduction
Digital Guide
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