Alma's Diary ....

Tuesday, June 21

I've been reading Alma's Diary for the last couple of months. It's an incredible peek into the mind of a sweet, ambitious, spirited and smart teenager who grew up on a Nebraska farm during the Great Depression. Alma Mariamne's words are now available for everyone to read thanks to Karen who chose to share her grandma's daily entries.

Alma received her "My Five Years" diary as a high school graduation gift in 1931, which only allowed four lines of writing each day. As an adult, Alma became a teacher for children with special needs and with her husband, raised five children on a struggling farm. Check out a short interview with Karen below.

Images and diary entries courtesy of Alma's Diary

What prompted you to start this project?
When my grandma Alma died a few years ago she left diaries, scrapbooks, poems, extensive genealogical records and collections of selected quotations from her favorite authors. They were passed down to me since we shared a love of reading and writing. Like her, I've kept diaries for many years.  

After my parents split when I was ten, I spent a lot of time with her and she encouraged me to write an autobiography. She helped me put together a memoir of a young girl called, "What Will Happen Next?!" that told the story of the years I had spent living in different countries because of my dad's work in shipping and oil. 

Looking back, she really helped me find my voice during a tough time, and so I think I wanted to keep her voice alive and out there.

Were there things that surprised you about your grandmother?
Even though logic tells me she was young once, it's still surprising to hear her teen voice since I knew her as an old woman!

It's hard to know what's real sometimes, in terms of who she really was and what I project based on these short daily entries. For example, I've interpreted her enthusiasm for a historical essay contest she won and the ensuing publicity around it, as that of a career-minded woman. I think she would have loved to have been a journalist as well as the mother and teacher she was.

Did you have any reservations about sharing this diary?
Sure. I have mixed feelings about sharing something she intended as only her own. I'm also sometimes nervous about interpreting her life and about sharing my own through the process. I struggle between feeling very private and wearing my heart on my sleeve in general. 

What do you hope to accomplish from this project?
I love telling stories and need a creative outlet, and this project feeds that part of me. I especially love that this is a woman's voice from the past and her history - as a symbol of the collective - is one that is often ignored or dismissed.

Having something that connects me to someone I love, who is no longer here is pretty cool too. Sometimes I feel sad realizing how many missed opportunities there were to know her better when she was alive. How many questions I didn't ask. So, if others who read Alma's Diary are inspired to connect to something from their family past or present, that would be really awesome.

What kind of feedback have you received so far?
I love hearing from readers! They've been very supportive and kind. I'm new to this and I sometimes feel scared about what to reveal, so hearing from others can comfort me. Also, I was briefly a high school English teacher, so there is that part of me that especially loves it when teenagers respond to the project. It's also great to find others who are staying connected to their family past. For example, I enjoy and appreciate and

What would she say about Alma's Diary?
My mom just asked me this the other day! She guessed that Alma would be embarrassed, and I think she's right. She was a very modest woman who put others before herself. My hope though is that secretly she would be rather tickled.

Karen's other photo blog is here and you can also follow her on twitter here


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