Journal, Sarah Corkins Towslee, Vol. 1
The two volumes of Sarah's personal journal contain entries ranging over a period of some sixteen years, from 19 February 1844 (when she was eleven) to ca. 1860. Entries were made sporadically—just how sporadically, it is often difficult to ascertain, for after 1848 dates are generally lacking, making matters of chronology sometimes ambiguous. Many of the entries are of substantial length, however; the entire text runs to perhaps 50,000 words. One of the persistent themes of the text is the author's love of learning, her determination to educate herself whatever the obstacles, and this engagement with education is apparent in the competency of her writing, even in adolescence. Her prose is confidential, and frank. Sarah writes a good deal of personal relationships, of her feelings towards family, friends, and acquaintances, and of the (generally unwelcome) advances made upon her by young and older men: "Is there no such thing as friendship with the other sex?" She also comments a good deal on her experiences in the mills: conditions there, workplace injuries, the influx of Irish immigrants, and mill culture generally. The first volume concludes with Sarah's marriage to Frank Towslee in February 1854. Volume 2 describes events following her move to rural New York State; the writing lacks the exuberance of the earlier volume, dominated as it is by accounts of the physical demands of farm life and the emotional difficulties of separation from friends and family.