This journal begins in Hartford, CT when Sarah Ballard begins her training to become a teacher. She writes almost exclusively about visiting local schools and of lectures she hears related to the teaching profession. Much of the first portion of her journal is dedicated to understanding different teaching philosophies. She details her approaches to teaching arithmetic, spelling, singing, and grammar. She also addressing religion and attending church services. Ballard gives some description of her area near Hartford and mentions visiting the Athanaeum and Charter Oak. She also writes about the establishment of a "Deaf and Dumb Asylum".
The second part of the journal is written 8 years after the first and picks up as Ballard departs from Boston for San Francisco via sea travel. She records her arduous and foul weather journey which added immense time to her travel around Cape Horn. She mentioned many marine animals that she saw including penguins, porpoises, whales, and sharks and comments often on the length of time of her journey. Her last entry in the journal is a comment regarding the dwindling water supply on board the ship.
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