The Diary of Annie Elliott Perrin - New Publication
Soliloquy of a Farmer's Wife: The Diary of Annie Elliott Perrin
edited by Dale B.J. Randall
Ohio University Press, 1999xxix + 384 pp.; illustrations, notes, bibliography, appendices, index
Annie Elliott Perrin, a northern Ohio farmer's wife, received a little blank-paged diary book as a gift in December 1917. Her daily notations in her diary, "Lest We Forget" are the basis for this story of a family's life and times. Editor Dale B.J. Randall, the diarists's grandson, writes the story of Perrin, his mother's mother, as seen through her diary. Her children gave her the diary before her once-in-a-lifetime trip to Florida, and she made entires for the last three weeks of 1917 and all of 1918.
The diary begins as Perrin and her family are leaving Geneva, Ohio, in order to search for a new home in the countryside around Orlando, Florida. Despite Florida's exotic oranges and alligators, and its mild weather in contrast to Ohio's brutal winters, Perrin felt she would never be at home there. She returned to the farm and the challenging life she had always known.
Perrin worked hard to keep her family going, After finishing daily chores, she generally turned to such other tasks as baking, washing, ironing, sewing, scrubbing, and churning. She also fixed fences, planted tomatoes, and sorted peaches. Since Perrin's diary entires are brief ,, they are supplemented with a full introduction, four appendices, and extensive notation. Together with copious illustrations, these elements help to create a factual and rounded sense of Perrin's family and neighbors, of various farming practices of the day, and of life the nearby village.
By writing the story of a woman who, like many of the players in women's history, was far too busy to write it herself, Randall has paid tribute to his own forebears and to those of many others. Soliloquy of a Farmer's Wife_ is a unique and illuminating record of daily life on a small farm in midwestern America and a dialogue between a grandmother and grandson separated by some eighty years.
Ohio University Press
Athens, OH 45701
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