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MS 1133 - Gertrude Emch Smith Diaries


The Gertrude Smith Diaries were transferred to the Center for Archival Collections, Bowling Green State University in December 2009 with the cooperation of Phyllis A. Mercer. The collection consists of 12 diary volumes spanning the years from 1936 to 1960. The diaries chronicle the daily life of Mrs. Smith and include a log of her everyday activities, farm and expense account notes.

The register for the Gertrude Emch Smith Diaries was prepared in July 2010 by Puja Batra-Wells, graduate student intern, Department of Popular Culture, Bowling Green State University.

Biographical Sketch

Gertrude Emch Smith was born on December 29th, 1879 in Lemoyne to Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Emch. Her stepfather was Mr. William Emch of Sugar Ridge (1859-1941). In 1898, she married Allen M Smith (b.1875), son of Jeremiah and Nancy Smith. Mr. Smith was a prosperous farmer while Mrs. Gertrude Smith spent her life as a housewife. They lived on their farm at RD Sugar Ridge, Middleton Township, Wood County, Ohio. Together they had two children, a daughter named Alma (Mrs. Harold Tyson) and a son, Forest. Her granddaughter is Mrs. Thomas Binkley of Bowling Green, Ohio. Mrs. Smith’s step-father, Mr. William Emch resided with the Smiths until his death of a heart attack on March 29th, 1941. He was 82.

Mrs. Gertrude Smith was widowed on August 6th 1936. Mr. Allen Smith died of a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 60. Mrs. Gertrude Smith who attended the Sugar Ridge Community Church died on December 26th 1967 at her home. She was 87 years old.

Scope and Content

In these diary volumes, Gertrude Emch Smith maintains short daily entries that describe her everyday activities, farm accounts and her social life. Written at the end of each day, most of the entries begin with a description of the weather and an overview of the day. In her notes, Gertrude Smith describes her daily chores which ranged from washing, ironing, cleaning the house, maintaining the chicken coop as well as cooking and baking. Her farm notes reveal that the Smiths grew a wide range of produce that included corn, oats, wheat, onions and tomatoes. Gertrude also made daily entries about the number of eggs produced by their chickens. The diaries also provide a record of Gertrude Smith’s social activities and her engagements with friends and family.

For the most part, Mrs. Smith’s diaries document the mundane and do not reveal her personal thoughts or reflections. Other than an entry about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and Roosevelt’s reelection, she does not write about local or national politics. While some entries provide scant reference to local news stories, there is little detail documented.

Mrs. Smith’s diaries reveal the everyday life of a farm wife during the early and mid-period of the 20th century and span 24 years. Her writings will provide scholars and researchers with an excellent snap shot of rural life during this period. Genealogists may also find this work useful as Gertrude meticulously documented information about local births and deaths.

Series Description


Arranged chronologically
Contains a daily log of her social and work activities, her family, friends, her travels, and also records births and deaths. Diary volumes for the years 1946-1960 are in a 5 year diary format.


Box 1


  1. Diary, 1936
  2. Diary, 1937
  3. Diary, 1938
  4. Diary, 1940
  5. Diary, 1941
  6. Diary, 1942
  7. Diary, 1943
  8. Diary, 1944
  9. Diary, 1945
  10. Diary, 1946-1950
  11. Diary, 1951-1955
  12. Diary, 1956-1960
  13. Source materials