One of my favorite sources for all things colonial is the online journal, Common-Place, sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society.
In the most recent issue (Vol.13 no. 3, Spring 2013), the author Michelle Marchetti Coughlin outlines her hunt for a 17th century diary that resulted in her recent book, One Colonial Woman’s World The Life and Writings of Mehetabel Chandler Coit. Coit began her diary in 1688 at the age of 14 and continued to write until her 75th year in May 1749. Coit’s diary is “the earliest extant diary written by an American woman.” Coughlin discovered that the diary was not organized in the typical manner—day by day—but rather thematically, for example, by recipes, births, poems, remedies. Coughlin orders her book chronologically through Mehetabel’s life, rooting her firmly into the history of the time, giving the reader a deep understanding of colonial life in Massachusetts Bay Colony and the vibrant port city of New London, CT.
Since our roses are just beginning to bloom, and as the winds bring in blue skies, I draw from page 24 of Coit’s diary–a transcription of a poem by Mathias Casimirus Sarbiewski (1595-1640):Child of the sumer Ch[a]rming Rose no longer in confinment Lie arise to light thy form disclose Rival the spangles of the sky the Rains are gon the storms are ore. winter retires, to make the way com then thou swea[t]ly blushing flower. com lovely stranger come away the son [sun] is Drest in beaming smiles to give thy beauty to the day yong zephyrs wait with gentlest gales to fan [thy] bosom as thay play Casimire
And thankfully, Historic Deerfield will hold a series of free lectures this summer—Through Her Eyes, In Her Words: The Lives and Writings of Three Colonial Women— [Garonzik Auditorium, Koch Science Center, Deerfield Academy at 7:30 on the day of lecture, as follows]
July 11: “One Colonial Woman’s World: The Life and Writings of Mehetabel Chandler Coit,” presented by Michelle Marchetti Coughlin, Author and Independent Scholar, Hingham, MA.
July 18: “Writing Her Way to Salvation: the Role of the Pen in the Life of Elizabeth Porter Phelps,” presented by Elizabeth Pendergast Carlisle, Author, Leverett, MA.
July 25: “Re-introducing Phillis Wheatley: A Genius in Bondage,” presented by Vincent Carretta, Professor of English, University of Maryland.
Michelle Marchetti Coughlin, One Colonial Woman’s World The Life and Writings of MehetabelChandler Coit (University of Massachusetts Press, 2012), p.xvii, 205