1863 Diary of a 17-Year-Old Teacher in Upstate New York

This is the 1863 diary of Hulda Comstock, a 17-year-old teacher in Albion, NY.

Table of Contents

Selected Images
The Diary


Hulda Comstock was born in 1846. In this 1863 diary, she lists her location as both Albion, NY and Carlton, NY.

Hulda kept this daily diary for the entirety of 1863. She is a young teacher and also a scholar. Her entries record her daily activities. Like any seventeen-year-old, she is into boys and frequently records the names of different boys who call on her or send her a note. On at least one occasion, she is pleased to meet a young man in uniform.

While the diary is written in the midst of the American Civil War, the entries suggest that life for Hulda was business as usual. Only a few scattered references are made to the war, such as this one on May 20:

Two years ago today we went to Albion to see the soldiers off and two years today since Willie was taken sick. Heard the boys had come home today. Give three cheers. Came up to Mr. Nobles’ tonight. Had a very good time. Mary to school today.

Hulda seems full of personality and she is not afraid to record her opinions. On January 9, she wrote:

At home today. Mrs. Cade and I washed. Helen most sick. John Wilson here all day making a ring for me. Worked on my bracelet this afternoon. John Wilson thinks he gave me some very good advice. Hope he will remember a little of it himself. But we shall see what we shall see.

On April 6, she attended a lecture on Temperance, a topic which greatly pleased her:

Washed all the forenoon. In the afternoon went to Albion. Saw most everybody that I know or thought of knowing. Went to Gough’s lecture in the evening. Subject Temperance. The most splendid thing that I ever heard. Reached home about 11 o’clock.

On January 15, during the first snow storm of the season, Hulda was called upon by a couple young men who both wrote in the back of the diary. Hulda’s entry for the day reads:

At school all day. We have had our first snow storm today. Hope it will prove to be something. Took a writing lesson tonight. This evening Dan Thurston and John Babcock called here, stayed to the latter part of the eve. Retired at 12 ½. Grab is the game nowadays, and Euchre.

In the back of the book, Dan wrote:

When you look at this I hope you will remember all that happened & the snow storm. Yours truly, D.G. Thurston.

John wrote:

Remember the 15th and what came to pass and what was said about your bearing in the glass. Yours, John Babcock. Barre.

Then, Dan added, vertically up the page:

I hope that you will not forget that book you promise to buy. D.G.

A full transcription of the diary is available further down on this page.

Selected Images

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1863 Diary of a 17-Year-Old Teacher in Albion, NY – Hulda Comstock

This is a full transcription of the diary. If you would like to save your place while reading, simply bookmark or copy/paste the website address. The website URL contains the page of the book that you are on. When you return using that link, the book will be open to the page you saved.