Maggie Boyd: Stepping into 139-Year-Old Shoes

By David Creighton, PACE student for Digital Initiatives

Although she began writing as a student, Maggie Boyd, being a senior, graduated halfway through the year. In the latter half of her diary, Maggie makes the transition into the working world, taking a job as a teacher in Monroeville, in the northern part of Ohio. The @MaggieBoyd1873 project has also undergone a transition, as I (David Creighton) took over the tweeting duties from Matt Wesley for the school year. I have been exposed to a different side of Maggie, no longer a student, now a working woman.

At the beginning of the year, the student Maggie often writes about studying and spending time with friends, generally lighthearted.

February 4th “Study & recite, Study & recite what monotony! Sometimes I get tired”, and March 14th, “We are out early so we go over to McVey’s. Did not get home till after nine. Had music, etc.” It seems some things never change, similar stories of student life are normal today too.

After she has moved away from Athens and begun teaching, Maggie writes about missing the comforts of home and adjusting to life in a new and unfamiliar place. The transition into her job comes with some hurdles, on September 3rd she writes: “I came home today at recess thinking it was noon. Did not know any better till Clara came home at noon and Mrs Hasford came up to see if I were sick. If I was not before I certainly did not feel very well after I found out what a mistake I had made. How Michael laughed when I went back after dinner!”

She also often writes of being lonely, such as October 5th, “I feel so lonely today. I can not tell why.”

Maggie’s working life wasn’t all trouble though, and corresponding with friends keeps her spirits up, as she writes on October 1st, “I get a letter from Kate Dana. I am so glad to get it. I buy ten cents worth of grapes. Miss H comes up to see me about her Latin lesson and pays me one dollar. Good!”

The period of leaving school and entering the workplace is no less intimidating today, and perhaps even more so than in Maggie’s time. She didn’t seem to have much trouble getting her job in Monroeville, but she seems more intimidated about moving across the state than many young people would be today. Of course, in her time, travelling that sort of distance was much more involved than simply getting in a car and taking off. After making her way north, Maggie lives with a Mr. and Mrs. Hasford, and another young woman, Clara. Teaching the children drains Maggie, as she often writes about how tired she is, but enjoys a steady stream of letters from friends and family.

With her last entry on December 14th, the 1873 diary ends with Maggie teaching in Monroeville.  (In the last pages of the diary, Maggie makes one final entry, almost a year later, on November 25, 1874.)

Although we have no other diaries or letters, we know that Maggie went on to hold several other professional positions in her life, all related to teaching and education. To read more about the rest of Maggie’s life, see this previous blog post for a synopsis, or this 1917 alumni  bulletin article for more detail.

Works Cited

Boyd, Margaret. “Pocket Diary for 1873.” Digital Initiatives. Ohio University. 1873. Web. 29 Dec 2011.

Ohio University Alumni Association. “Margaret Boyd.” Ohio University Bulletin. June 1917: 8-11. Web. 7 Feb. 2012.