Scope and Contents
The diaries were kept in three separate appointment books. Each book had the year displayed on its cover, and the pages inside were set up to show the day’s appointments. Nancy made her entries in the 1951 appointment book and in the following two years, she made her entries in the books for 1952 and 1953. Because the space assigned for the days’ appointments in each book was fixed, she generally limited her daily entries to the space available, but she frequently wrote in the margin to note the time she finished her day (i.e., went to bed). She usually began each day’s entry with the
time she got up.
Nancy made almost no mention of current events from the early 1950s. Instead, she wrote about her immediate concerns: having trouble with school work (even confiding that she had gotten caught at cheating); worrying about upcoming tests; receiving test results and report cards; being with her friends; going to “the show” (that is, a movie) frequently, even during the week; noting her comments about those
movies; shopping for new clothes; listening to the radio; and, with the advent of television, just “watching tv.”
As she moved through her high school years, she wrote about her weight (e.g., “I wish I was thin. I don’t think it is fair to have other people thin and me so thick.”), her long-running desire to have a boyfriend (e.g., “I wish I had a boyfriend and weighed about 20 lbs. less that would be swell.”) and the many crushes she had along the way. She also revealed her self-doubts (e.g., “I haven’t got a chance but I will never give up hope[.] I wish I had what it
takes but I don’t.”).
Language of Materials
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Nancy Edelen’s diary covers three years, 1951, 1952, and 1953, when she was a high school student in Parkersburg, West Virginia. She was the daughter of Oscar Edelen and Rosalind Edelen.
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