|Sarah Van Hoosen Jones at right on her family's dairy farm|
in Stoney Creek Village in Rochester, MI. Courtesy of
the Archives of the Rochester Hills Museum at
Van Hoosen Farm.
The project is the transcription (and, hopefully, the eventual publication) of diaries written by 17-year-old Sarah Van Hoosen Jones during a year-long trip overseas in 1909 to 1910.
That journey took Sarah, her mother, aunt and grandmother across the Atlantic to the countries of Scotland, Hungary, Germany and Algeria to name a few. This was three years before the Titanic disaster and when ocean travel could be quite grand and elegant (unless you were an immigrant consigned to the belly of the ship in steerage). Sarah and her family traveled well and experienced perks typical of travelers with money. In fact, this was the first of several overseas adventures for Sarah during her lifetime.
My first goal with this project is to transcribe the diaries -- there are three total -- Sarah wrote during that trip. If you've ever done research which required reading someone else's handwriting from another era, you know how long transcribing can take. Luckily I've become familiar enough with Sarah's handwriting to be able to decipher it pretty well, though there are words that I still stumble over and mark so that I can return to them later.
Who was Sarah Van Hoosen Jones? She was born June 23, 1892, to Alice and Joseph Jones in Stoney Creek Village in Rochester, Michigan. Sarah grew up on her family's farm in Stoney Creek as well as in Chicago, where her aunt, Dr. Bertha Van Hoosen, an accomplished physician, practiced medicine. She grew to love animals and farming so much it became her life's calling. In 1916, Sarah became one of the first women to earn a master's degree in animal husbandry.
A few years later, Sarah was given the deed to her family's farm in Stoney Creek. Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, she developed it into an impressive dairy farm, raising poultry and prized Holstein cattle, bottling vitamin A and D milk, and selling and distributing the milk throughout southeastern Michigan. In 1933, Sarah achieved another extraordinary accomplishment; she was one of the first women in the United States to be named Master Farmer.
Sarah's diaries from her trip abroad years earlier convey the feelings and emotions of a young girl in the early twentieth century -- some of the words and phrases she uses were common for the era and despite the excitement that surrounded her, Sarah would remain quite homesick, longing to return to her friends and beloved farm.
At first glance, some of her journal entries seem quite ordinary. They are, however, interesting in their own right, describing people, places and events from over a century ago. Yet in between her musings about tourist attractions and what they had to eat for dinner, Sarah writes quite casually about some remarkable things. Her words portray life around the world in 1909 and 1910 -- suffragette meetings in Scotland, bull fights in Spain, walks across the Sahara desert and more. It's simply fascinating.
As the transcription continues, I'll share with you the comments Sarah made -- both the mundane and intriguing -- during her journey. And, in keeping with the theme of this blog, I'll also share with you the unknown letters, diaries and scrapbooks from other young ladies of the past.