Saturday, January 19, 2008

Diary of Martha Ballard 1785-1812

Not all of Maine Genealogical Society's special publications are transcribed town vital records, as I was recently reminded of by Sherry LeBlanc.

Sherry wrote that she "can only say that the work done on this woman's diary is incredible! What a life! You are all to be commended on an outstanding body of work. Imagine her life. I've noted on several occasions her comments about falling from her horse. I do believe the woman fell of from exhaustion. The "Story" was so interesting I invested in the 900 page book (#10)."

For those not familiar with this diary, Martha Ballard made almost ten thousand daily entries during her three decades as a midwife. She reported on all 814 deliveries she attended in the Kennebec River Valley towns of Hallowell, Augusta, and vicinity; on numerous marriages and deaths; on the multitude of daily joys and cares, gossip and crops, meetings with strangers and acquaintances; and the activities of her large extended family. This is one of the few 18th century diaries by an American woman, and one of the most interesting diaries ever. If you are interested in colonial Maine, in colonial women, in diaries in general, or in women’s rights and activities in particular, this book is for you! The story of Martha Ballard has been chronicled on television through the PBS stations. If you have seen this movie, you will surely want to read the diary.

The diary was transcribed by Robert R. McCausland and Cynthia MacAlman McCausland. Introduction by Pulitzer Prize winner Laurel Thatcher Ulrich. It is available on CD, complete with an every name index. For more information, visit

“This diary is probably the only record which will rescue from oblivion many of the early inhabitants of this city when our principal street was a wood road and when the larger part of the city [Augusta] was an unbroken forest.”—Charles Nash, author of The History of Augusta, Maine, writing in 1901.

Thank you Sherry (Descendant of Daniel LeBlanc (Acadia pre 1650) and Francoise Gaudet).

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