"This Altogather Precious tho Wholy Worthless Book": The Diary of Mary Guion, 1800-1852

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Book Chapter

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Arts and Humanities | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | History | History of Gender | United States History | Women's History | Women's Studies


At the turn of the nineteenth century, Mary Guion (1782-1871), a seventeen-year-old living in rural Westchester County, New York, began to keep a diary. Like many young women, she began with brief, unrevealing entries; but her journal, unlike most, burgeoned into 387 closely written pages, 340 of them covering her courtship years from 1800 to 1807. Guion chronicled the everyday life of a young woman of the early American republic in almost overwhelming detail[…]It is impossible to read this flood of words without asking why Guion needed to record her life in such detail. What did writing mean to her? Did she experience the ambivalence or “anxious power” so common to female writers?