1960: Acquisition of Hannah Wolfe Burton’s diary

On March 4, 1960, the historical society acquired the diary of Hannah Wolfe Burton, a resident of Sussex County, Delaware during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. The diary entries, which were written between 1811 and 1824, describe daily life on a farm in southern Delaware. Burton discusses family activities, the religious education of her children, social calls made by the Burtons on friends and family and vice versa, as well as family health, weather, and local news.

Hannah Wolfe married Joshua Burton in 1794. The family was active in their Sussex County church and religious community. The Burtons owned slaves and ran a farm near Lingo Creek in Indian River Hundred. Joshua Burton was a lay minister and also served for a number of terms as a representative of Sussex County in the Delaware General Assembly.

The diary is a fascinating piece and provides wonderful opportunities for research. First, it is rare to hear first-hand experiences from a woman in southern Delaware during this time period. The journal also sheds light on the daily activities and responsibilities of running a family farm in the early nineteenth century. Finally, descriptions of Christian religious practices and local clergy leaders provide excellent research material on the study of early American religion in the Mid-Atlantic region.

 

Diary entry from journal, 1819
Diary entry from journal, 1819

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