What a Difference a Year Makes

18-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, September 30, 1913:  These days have come and gone. They ground me working on my job.


Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:


You work so hard on the farm—husking corn, digging potatoes, rolling fields in preparation for planting wheat—the list could go on and on.

I know that your life working on the family farm is fairly typical of the lives of many young unmarried women a hundred years ago. . . so I assume that your life just feels normal to you.

But . . .sometimes I wonder if your current jobs and tasks are fully utilizing your knowledge and skills.

Exactly one year before you wrote this entry, you were a high school senior  and wrote:

Our class had a meeting this evening after school. I had the misfortune to be elected secretary. But better, or rather it suits me better to have been that, than president or treasurer would have suited me.

September 30, 1912

You always write in such a matter of fact way.  I hope you feel good about what you are doing—and that you think that your work suits you well.


13 thoughts on “What a Difference a Year Makes

  1. Did you ever know your grandmother? What was she like?
    My grandmother used to work on a farm but she always read the paper, and read poetry, and kept up with politics etc So she was quite well-read as well as being practical. So there were these two sides.

    1. I don’t know about her specifically, but my general sense is that many women back then felt some pressure to get married. I’m less certain about the job. I think that her parents probably wanted her to be a teacher, but when she didn’t get a teaching job they may have preferred that she work on the family farm rather than taking a job in a factory or store in a nearby town.

    1. One thing that I’ve learned from doing this diary is that Grandma had occasional adventures–interspersed with many days that were fairly routine. I guess that’s probably similar to many of our lives. :)

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