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The Diary And The Pocket Watch: Rethinking Time In Nineteenth-Century America

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Chapter Summary

In 1879, a 14-year-old Connecticut farm boy named Alvin Bartlett bought a watch. He was so proud of the purchase that he recorded it in his diary. He used the spaces in his diary to track the ups and downs that came with owning a mechanical timepiece in the late nineteenth-century. This chapter focuses on Bartlett's diary. Introduced in the early nineteenth-century as a portable account book for merchants and other businessmen in America, it had become a popular diary format by the end of the Civil War. The chapter also discusses the pocket diaries of Susan Brown, an 18-year-old Lowell factory girl who used her diaries to count the days until she could return to the natural rhythms at work on her father's New Hampshire farm, and George Watson Cole, a Watertown, Connecticut, school teacher who used the pages of his diary to create his own model for time.

Keywords: Alvin Bartlett; America; diarists; diary; George Watson Cole; pocket watch; Susan Brown



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