Why do you visit A Hundred Years Ago?

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

Monday, November 30, 1914: <<no entry>>


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

A few weeks ago Dirndl Skirt made the following comment:

. . . For all the work you put into this, it might be nice to get personal feedback as to why people connected with it. And a bit of introspection on the part of your readers’ would probably reveal some interesting observations as well, for you and for us.

And, I’ve been really curious ever since.

So since Grandma didn’t write anything a hundred years ago today, I’d like ask you a question:

What brought you to A Hundred Years Ago? . . . and why have you kept coming back?

89 thoughts on “Why do you visit A Hundred Years Ago?

  1. I suppose it is partly because she lived a normal life that was similar to the lives of our great grandmothers…it brings a sense of the pace of life. I have always found history to be incredibly intriguing as it often explains why we are the way we are.

    1. I like the normality of her life too. I can’t remember how I came to your blog but I come now as much for the history as Helena. It also intrigues me how closely Helena’s diary resembles that of my great aunt’s of the same time frame in New Zealand. And then, as you know, I found one of my all time favourite recipes on your blog; that cobbler!

      1. And, I’ve been amazed how Grandma’s story resonated with you and others half way around the world. (It’s also amazed me how modern technology has enabled us to get to know each other.). And, it’s always nice to hear how much you’ve enjoyed the cobbler recipe. 🙂

    2. I appreciate your support. I’ve also found it really interesting to get a better sense of what life was like a hundred years ago over the past few years.

    1. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you’ll do something similar with your great aunt’s journals. I’ve had a wonderful time with this blog, and think that you would enjoy doing something similar. .

  2. The combination of discovering the diary along with the intent of honoring your grandmother was catnip to me. What kept me coming back was seeing you blossom as a history detective and archivist, even as you were forming an emotional bond with the roles reversed: you as an adult and Helena leaving girlhood behind. In a way I feel that somehow she knew you were embarking on this journey and lent an encouraging presence. The two of you have reminded us how to slow down and reflect on family, time, life.

    1. Thank you for suggesting that I do this post. It’s been really interesting and humbling to read the varied reasons that you and others have connected with this blog.

      Throughout the years I’ve always found your comments to be so thoughtful and insightful–and that continues with this comment. The way you describe the relationship between my grandmother and me in this blog is so astute and describes some of the feelings I’ve had.

  3. I love your blog, family history is so fascinating! Learning about an era through your grandmother’s eyes! Plus it is so much fun connecting with people, making friends on the Internet throughout the States and the world! Hugz Lisa and Bear

    1. I’ve also enjoyed getting to know you and other wonderful people via out blogs. I also find family history fascinating, and strongly believe that each person’s story is an important part of history.

  4. Reading Helena’s entries makes me think of my own grandmother and what her life might’ve been like as a young woman in a similar rural community. And domestic history always appeals to me–what were regular people thinking about, worrying about? And I like all that you’ve added, when Helena hasn’t had much to say–the glimpses of life not THAT long ago, yet so different.

    1. It is fascinating to think about what the lives of young women were like in rural communities a hundred years ago. Sometimes it’s difficult to know exactly what lens to use looking at their lives because some of the basic assumptions have changed so much across the past hundred years–yet in other ways the thoughts and feelings of a teen a hundred years ago are very similar to those of young women today.

  5. I really don’t recall HOW I found your blog, but just the idea that you have your grandmother’s diary from a hundred years ago is so interesting. Reading her entries has been fascinating, and the extras that you add (particularly on days when she had no entry) are icing on the cake.
    I’m sad to know that the diary blog will be coming to an end soon, but I’m excited about your new venture!

    1. I’ve really enjoyed doing this blog, and have greatly appreciated your support over the past few years. I will miss my daily “visits” with Grandma when the diary ends, but I’m looking forward to getting to know my great aunt. It’s wonderful to hear that you’re also excited about my new venture.

  6. As a genealogist, personal histories interest me. Grandma’s diary makes everyday life real. It isn’t life from a history book, it’s better – life from just one person’s perspective. When I read Grandma’s diary entries, I reflect on my own ancestors’ lives during the same era.

    It is your partnership with Grandma and her stories that make me come back. Meshing her thoughts with the realities of the time through news articles, advertisements and commentary make this blog a keeper.

    And no other blog runs through my mind when shopping for clothes, grateful I don’t have to walk home carrying them in a suitcase! 🙂

    1. One of the things that I really like about diaries (and letters) is how they give us insight into what the writer was thinking and their perspectives. It’s fun to hear how you think of this blog when shopping. 🙂

  7. It’s fascinating to glimpse into the same day 100 years ago. Also, I wish for a simpler life and life was simpler 100 years ago. Sure they worked hard but still life was simpler.
    Diana xo

    1. Like you, there’s a lot that I find appealing about life a hundred years ago. (That said, there are also some things back then that I find appalling.)

  8. I think my sister, who is also a blogger, told me about your blog. It’s been interesting “watching” your grandmother grow up. And seeing life from that time not so long ago. I’m looking forward to your blog about your aunt, the WAC.

    1. I also have enjoyed seeing how she’s grown up across the years. I can remember sometimes thinking during the first year of this blog that she seemed very immature–and I haven’t had that sense for a long time now.

  9. It keeps me grounded. I first came to your blog because it was similar to mine in that we were both transcribing diaries, but you do so much more background research. Tuesday would be my Mother’s 100th birthday, so things of that era intrigue me.

    1. It’s been wonderful to connect via our blogs with you and others who have embarked on similar projects. 100 years is a major milestone. My warm thoughts are extended to you as you remember your mother on this special date.

  10. I’m the family genealogist. Stories of life in the past are interesting. My great grandmother kept a daily diary in the 1880-90 era. I like the comparisons of farm life. These memories of days past are too easily forgotten. They have lessons to teach us.

    1. I have a similar sense that it’s important to keep old stories alive by preserving them and sharing them with others.

      Farming sure has changed a lot over the past hundred years. I’ve really appreciated your wonderful comments on farming and many other topics over the past year or so. They have really enriched this blog.

  11. I found out about your blog through another homeschooler. Last year, my daughter and I were studying this time period and I thought it would be a lot of fun to check in with Miss Muffly daily to see what she was up to 100 years ago. I’ve enjoyed watching her grow and keep coming back to see how she’s doing.

    1. It’s wonderful to hear how you’ve enjoyed checking in daily to see what she was doing. I’ve also found it fascinating how she’s matured over the several years that she kept the diary.

  12. I do not remember for sure how I first discovered this blog, I think it must have been through someone else’s blog. As soon as I discovered it though, I felt that I identified with a number of things. Originally, I think I found it around the time that I lost my own Grandmother. By reading your blog I could see your affection for your Grandma, and some of your relationship with her, and in a way I think I found comfort in that when I was grieving. As I read more entries, I found your Grandma’s day to day life and reactions to it very interesting. It was exciting to see how she discovered new things, not least things that we perhaps take for granted today, such as her camera.

    Additionally, I grew up on a farm, on which I am the fourth generation to have lived, and I have always heard a lot of stories about how certain things were done in different eras and at particular times of year, so I have found the farming side of your blog very interesting too. I’ve found it illuminating comparing not only how different and similar farming and life in general were back then as against now, but also the differences and similarities between England and America.

    Once I started reading I just found that I wanted to keep coming back to find out what was happening in your Grandma’s life. To not do so would have felt like I was leaving something behind that I didn’t want to.

    Thank you for sharing such a special story and lots of related information. 🙂

    1. I’ve greatly appreciated your support over the past several years. I’ve also been amazed at the similarities between England and the US a hundred years ago. In some ways this blog has made me realize that the world was a smaller place a hundred years ago than what I might have guessed.

  13. Sheryl, this is such a neat idea. In fact, I’m going to write mine before I read the other comments so I won’t be influenced 🙂
    I don’t remember what brought me here but I have a sense that it was a comment you might have made on someone else’s blog.
    I keep coming back for the history: we all need to understand where we came from, to appreciate those who worked to build what we have today, and to remember the time that many thought of as simpler but in reality wasn’t.
    I also come back because I want to know Grandma’s story and how things turn out. Meaning that I hope that after the journal entries are done, you will fill us in on her life after the journal.
    Now … to read the other comments 🙂

    1. and now that I’ve read them, I love this one “What kept me coming back was seeing you blossom as a history detective and archivist”.

      1. It’s fun to read how you used a two-step process to write these comments. I’ve enjoyed sharing the diary entries and pulling together the background materials, and it’s wonderful to hear that you enjoyed them

        I’m awed and humbled that you think I’ve blossomed as a history detective and archivist. I’m so close to this blog that it’s difficult for me to get a good sense of how I’ve changed over the course of doing this blog–though I’m sure that I have.

  14. Your blog popped up on the sidebar “You May Like” list of other blogs. I love family history and the history of everyday life. Your grandmother grew up at the same time and same part of the country as mine, although they had left the farm. I just finished raising three teenage girls, and find that they haven’t changed much in 100 years!

  15. I come by becausenI cannot wait to see to read the wrap up posts about your grandmother. I also love the history and tidbits you have shared I feel I have been following for so long, that I care what happens. And you are such a nice person Sheryl, I love to support you! xoxoxox

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you via our blogs. Sometimes I’m amazed that I’ve reached the point where I need to think about how to “wrap up” this blog. When I started it four years ago, I’m not sure that I fully expected that I’d ever reach this point. The support of you and others in the blogging community has been wonderful and so motivating.

  16. For me, your posts have responded to my love of history, a connection to a project I did on my aunt’s diaries and your ability to make me interested in Helena herself. You have made her real by way of your photos, your setting of Helena in historical context and your knowledge of her future. Jane

    1. It’s been wonderful to get to know you via our blogs. We have many similar interests. I’ve really enjoyed sharing Grandma’s story and researching the historic context.

  17. I found the blog on tip from friend & stay because our Grandmother, Blanche Bryson Kramm, & her sister are mentioned in the blog. It was nice to make a personal connection when you visited. I remember seeing your Grandmother in church when I first came to the area, but never spoke with her. I am looking forward to your next project!

    1. For me, connecting with you and the other members of your family has been one of the highlights of my years doing this blog. One of my most special memories is the day that you took me to visit Jane, It was so wonderful to visit with her after all these years–and to hear her stories about my grandmother and other people I knew as I child. And, I’m still in awe that the grade book with Grandma’s grades still exists.

  18. I first saw your blog listed in a list of new blogs. Both my grandmothers were born in the 1890s and they were both gone by my 13th birthday. My grandmothers lived simple lives in rural Mississippi. Your grandmother’s diary gives me a look into what their lives may have been like on a farm. I enjoy reading Helena entries and your comments a hundred years later.

    1. I have really enjoyed getting to know you via our blogs. It’s nice to hear that Grandma’s diary gave you insights into what farm life might have been like for your grandmothers. I have learned a lot from reading your blog. There were similarities (and differences) between the life of my grandmother and the lives of your grandmothers–and I’ve grown a lot as I get a better understanding of the history of that era.

  19. I haven’t been in this blogging world long. I’m learning that there is a wonderful world of learning about other people. I love your posts , their so interesting , warm , full of family living,and often I can identify with the postings for I have been a farm girl all my life.
    So keep writing , you have a lovely talent, dear!! 🙂

    1. Thank you for the kind words. It’s wonderful to hear what you’ve liked about this blog. Somehow I think that I’ll keep writing. One thing that I’ve learned from doing this blog is how much I enjoy doing this type of writing. 🙂

  20. I first came because you made a very positive comment on my blog so I came to see your blog. I was very interested in yours because of my personal interest in the history of the times, and because my Mother was born and grew up at about the same time. It reminds me of many of her stories.

    1. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you via our blogs. It’s nice to hear the things that you’ve liked. Even though we grew up in different regions of the country, I think that our backgrounds and farm experiences are somewhat similar.

  21. I love trying to bring the past back to life and your grandma’s diary coupled with your own discoveries and responses to each daily entry almost make that happen. At times your readers actually seem to think of Helena as living and they are pulling for her when she is down and hoping for her great romance with your grandfather. This is as close as we can get to 100 years ago and not just in fiction, but through your own real relative, and its just a shame that Helena couldn’t blog or make youtube videos for us all to enjoy too. I love your blog Sheryl and though I will miss Helena, I look forward to your next innovative look at history.

    1. It is interesting how there is almost a “time capsule” aspect that has developed over the last few years. I never would have guessed when I first began this blog that a teen-aged Grandma would become someone I could have a conversation with.

      One of the biggest mysteries of this diary is why my grandfather is never directly mentioned in it when Grandma obviously knew him. He apparently was not yet on her radar screen.

  22. I came to your blog as a descendant of Susanna Muffly, daughter of Christian Muffly. As my ancestors moved west, ending up in Iowa and Nebraska, I have enjoyed the glimpses into life in Pennsylvania. I felt you were so fortunate to have your grandmother’s diary. That is a lovely gift. I also have enjoyed the recipes and early magazine articles!

    1. I agree- I am very fortunate to have the diary. I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed getting a glimpse of what life was like in Pennsylvania years ago. It’s interesting to read about the last name connection. Thank you for the kind words.

  23. Your lovely way of briefly evoking that time (every day!), not so very long ago, with a real person and with what interests you from magazines etc. of the time. Gives me perspective. Mahalo and aloha.

    1. I appreciate your kind thoughts. It’s interesting how my perspective of time has changed as a result of doing this blog. Like you, I’ve come to realize that in many ways a hundred years ago really wasn’t that long ago. Aloha.

  24. I love that you have your grandma’s journal and that you are sharing it. I also appreciate the time and effort to post interesting articles, pictures, etc., from that era. It’s a wonderful blog.

    1. It’s nice to hear why you enjoy this blog. I’ve had a lot of fun researching the various topics I’ve written about–and it’s wonderful to hear that you enjoy them.

  25. This is so personal, somehow, and you have developed a whole community of people interested in responding to the fun historical stuff you present. I think mostly it’s the atmosphere you have created. That must represent something important about your personality.

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I greatly appreciate them–though I think that you and other wonderful people in the blogging community who regularly visit this blog did much to create the atmosphere. I feel very fortunate that you found this blog.

  26. I love the fact that you have your grandmothers diary and even when she didn’t write an entry, you fill it with interesting things from that time period. It’s never boring to me the “stuff” you post about because I love history.

    1. It’s nice to hear that you’ve enjoyed all the stuff that I’ve posted. This might sound odd given the large number of posts that I’ve done over the last four years, but I’m already starting to think of good topics that I never got around doing a post about. 🙂

  27. As you know I love history and since this is in my own backyard I have been enjoying learning about Helena and what went on 100 yrs ago!

    1. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know via our blogs. It’s been wonderful how you know the area–and can really picture what I’m writing about. Thank you for your support and encouragement.

  28. I can’t remember how I found your blog, but I loved the idea of knowing what a young woman was thinking 100 years ago because I have one grandmother who was born in 1897 in Chicago and the other born in 1907 Allegheny (now part of Pittsburgh).

    1. It’s nice to hear that my grandmother’s experiences resonated with you. I think that you were one of the first non-family members to find this blog. Thank you for your interest and support over the years. I can’t begin to tell you how much I have valued some of your insightful comments.

  29. I think I found your blog because you liked mine. From the first entry I read, I was hooked on your style, creativity and elegance in putting up Grandma for the world to enjoy. You added so much to make this an award winning blog. Sheryl, your additions and your input is charming, dramatic, interesting and enjoyable. Thank YOU!

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I have a lot of fun pulling this blog together, and it’s nice to know that the way I did it worked well for you. I have really enjoyed getting to know you via our blogs.

  30. I don’t really remember how I came to your blog. I’ve always been interested in history and even Grandma isn’t mine, she tells a story – a story of days gone by. When I get the time I want to go back to the beginning to read because I started in the middle of her story.

    1. I think that you’d enjoy Grandma’s early diary entries. She has really matured across the four years. Some of the entries she wrote during the first year of the diary sound a bit whiny, but so typical of a teen.

  31. My grandma also kept a journal so this blog inspired me to also write about that in my own blog. I kept coming back because I enjoy reading what happened to your own grandmother 100 years ago 🙂

  32. Your blog was recommended reading–I think it was by Ancestry.com’s Sticky Notes, but I’m not certain. Once I started reading Helena’s diary entries and your comments, I was hooked. I’ll be sorry to see this one end, but Helena’s just not that committed to writing these days as her outlook on life matures. I’m looking forward to reading about your aunt, the WAC!

    1. It’s nice to hear that you’ve enjoyed this blog. I’ll also miss the diary when it ends, but based on the entries it’s clear that Grandma was ready to move on. I glad that you think my new blog sounds interesting.

  33. Although late to the discussion I think I visit because it reminds me of my own Grandmother. Hearing the entries and your additions have a warm familiarity. I will be sad to see the diary come to an end soon.

    1. It’s nice to hear that it reminds you of your grandmother. I think that there are some overarching similarities that are common to many grandmothers. Grandmothers are special!

  34. I can’t even remember how I landed here. I suspect it might have been through Gallivanta’s blog. In any case, I’ve loved it for the chance to see history through the eyes of an individual. My grandmother was a little older, but my mother was born in 1918, and my dad in 1912, so this was their era, too.

    I just remembered. It was the cobbler recipe, and it was from Gallivanta’s blog I cam. And yes, the cobbler’s a good one!

  35. I’ve always been fascinated with history, but this is so much more: the happenings in the life of one real individual, very much the age of both my grandmothers. Your research has been very interesting too as it has given an additional window into that time. I’ve not had the time lately to follow every day as I’ve been writing my 2nd book and traveling, but one day I’ll go back and read all of it. I find it truly interesting!

    1. I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed the window that this blog has provided into that time period. I think that the stories of people who lived fairly typical lives are an important part of history. It sounds like you’ve been doing some exciting things. I’m looking forward to the book.

    1. You are fortunate to have the diary of your great-great grandmother. Diaries can enable us to get a wonderful sense of what the writer was like.

  36. I was helping my grandfather doing some ancestry research and then somehow I found this blog. I just think it’s really fascinating to read about a 19-year olds thoughts a hundred years in the past since I’m 19 now. It’s both really cool and really weird how some things have changed so much and other things barely at all.

    1. Since you’re the same age as she was when she wrote the diary you’d have a really good sense of how thoughts and perspectives have changed across the years.

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