Jan. 27-Feb. 1, 1919

Jan. 27

Went to school, up town and washed after school, made lace for other end of scarf, studied.

Jan. 28

School and choir practice also went to see Harriet.

Jan. 29

Went to school, up town to see Harriet, ironed, got supper, combed my hair about a dozen times, went to the League party at Hedricks, had a dandy time. Paul Moulton was my partner for supper, home at 1.

Jan. 30

Started working on my Bookkeeping. Harriet was up town after school, fooled around, went up to the hall where the Ladies Aid were serving support, got coffee spilt on me, came home, changed my dress, had supper, Edgar got sick and had to go home. Got home at 9 and awful tired.

Jan. 31

Went to choir practice at Potters, came home at 11 and awful tired.

Feb. 1

Lazy but had to do the cleaning. Finished insertion for pillow slips. Took a bath, went up town, stayed at Potters for supper, went to the show. It consisted of a male quartet and was very good, got home at 12, had lunch at the restaurant.

The routines continue: school, wash, iron, sew/crochet, practice. But this week, Clara also combs her hair a dozen times. This is the first time she mentions her hair. I wonder why it was so important to mention. She does go to a party that night, but it isn’t the first party she has attended.

For a little bit of insight into how women were instructed to take care of their hair, quite a few beauty books were published in the early 1900s.

First, here’s one from Physical Beauty: How to Keep It by Annette Kellerman and published in 1918 that makes it clear just how important hair is to the overall person: 

Of all the bodily attributes which go to make or mar beauty, hair heads the list. Good hair can redeem a plain face, and the lack of it can keep an otherwise pretty face from being recognised as such. It is a tyrant, but there are redeeming features to its tyranny. First, its beauty can be made independent of colour or texture; and second, it can be easily cultivated, and responds to good treatment in a manner that one would hardly expect from a tyrant. I wish I could make those of you who are mothers realise how much of your daughter’s future beauty depends on the attention her hair receives from you while it is under your care.

For an explanation of the proper use of a brush, the 1899 book The Woman Beautiful by Helen Follett Jameson offers this:

A brush should never be touched to the hair with other than a gentle, caressing motion; its first office is that of a polisher, to spread the natural oil exuding from the scalp over the hair, and give it a satiny gloss; and, secondarily, as a cleaner, to wipe off the surface soil, that is, the dust and dirt manifold of the polluted atmosphere in which it is the fate of a large part of mankind to pass their lives. The brush cannot penetrate to the scalp, through a heavy mass of hair, to remove any accumulation of dirt and dandruff there without carrying away with it very much of the crop of hair also; while, at the same time, if stiff enough to perform this office, it impairs the delicacy and integrity of the epidermis.

And finally, the 1901 book Beauty’s Aids, Or, How to Be Beautiful by The Countess C______ (yes, the identity of the author is quite mysterious), includes a discussion of what to do about that unwanted facial hair that women sometimes find.

Hirsuteness is the name by which the learned characterise an excessive development of the hairy system…. Of course an exaggerated crop of hair all over the cheeks and chin and nose gives to the face a villainously masculine appearance, and is a serious drawback to feminine beauty, but if only a light down shades the upper lip, preserve it. It gives a piquancy to the face, and is often an added charm.

Perhaps Clara wanted to make sure she looked her best for the League party at the Hedricks. The Hedricks lived in Cresbard and had two young children, a boy-8 and a girl-7. I have mentioned that I am not sure what League this is despite repeated mentions of League meetings. I will keep looking, however.

Paul Moulton, 15 years old, was her partner for supper. His family also lives in Cresbard and has been discussed in other places through the journal.

The next day. Clara works on her bookkeeping before going to the hall in town where the Ladies Aid is meeting. 

Ladies Aid groups were originally formed during the Civil War to give women the opportunity to help the soldiers by providing much needed supplies and caring for sick and wounded. After the Civil War Ladies Aids were connected to local churches and raised money for the upkeep and the maintenance of the church, sometimes paying the minister’s salary.

A history of the Ladies Aid connected to the Methodist church in DeVoe, South Dakota, a town less than ten miles from Cresbard. If this is not the Ladies Aid that Clara and her friends attended, it certainly was very similar.

In those horse-and-buggy days the women often went to their meetings in the morning and spent the whole day. Devotions were held and sewing was done for the hostess or some needy family in the neighborhood. A sample dinner menu contained three kinds of meat and several desserts. Carpet rags were often sewn and at one time they sewed for rugs for the parsonage. Many quilts were pieced and comforters were tied. Dues were twenty-five cents per year. 

The Devoe store sold calico for six cents per yard and carried only a few patterns. Aprons were made from material purchased there and sold at their bazaars. Ice cream was sold for ten cents a dish by the ladies. Sun bonnets were made and sold for twenty-five cents each. A popular way to raise money was to sell Larkin products. An investment of $10.00 would bring in $20.00 when sold. They also organized basket socials, chicken pie suppers, and five cents or ten cents socials. 


And here’s a description of the Ladies Aid Society in North Dakota at the time, which I assume also must be similar to the experience in South Dakota. I’m including this quote because I really like the picture it draws of life in the early 1900s.

If they lived within two miles of the meeting, they usually walked, often knitting as they walked. Mrs. Gronlid walked one and one-half miles carrying her baby and a bag of rags for making rugs at her Ladies’ Aid meeting. Two toddlers walked along behind her. Other women found some sort of transportation. Mrs. Heskin rode an untrained, wild colt carrying “the sack” which contained all the cloth for the meeting. One woman traveled to the Norway Church Ladies’ Aid meeting on a hay rake drawn by a pair of oxen.


Clara spends time at the Potters, which is the family of Harriet, her good friend, before they attend another show, this time a male quartet, a very good one. Barbershop quartets were popular at this time, but Clara doesn’t specifically state that it is a Barbershop quartet. Either way, a male quartet typically consists of a first tenor (or countertenor), second tenor, baritone, and bass.

But before I end today’s installment, I want to make mention of a book from 1895 that I came across that I thought was fascinating. It is called Searchlights on Health: Light on Dark Corners, A Complete Sexual Science and a Guide to Purity and Physical Manhood, Advice To Maiden, Wife, And Mother, Love, Courtship, And Marriage by B. G. Jefferis and J. L. Nichols.

This book provides advice about every aspect of life, from how to have beautiful children to the disadvantages of celibacy (and in favor of marriage) to how to cook for the sick to care of the liver and kidney of drunkards.

Here’s a sample of advice regarding love letters:

Ladies and gentlemen who correspond with each other should never be guilty of exposing any of the contents of any letters written expressing confidence, attachment or love. The man who confides in a lady and honors her with his confidence should be treated with perfect security and respect, and those who delight in showing their confidential letters to others are unworthy, heartless and unsafe companions.

If you have some time, it is definitely worth perusing this book!

One thought on “Jan. 27-Feb. 1, 1919

  1. Enjoyed your research. Lightly perused the “Guide to Purity and Physical Manhood”, but had to avoid delving too deeply into that rabbit hole. Another great phrase from Clara, “dandy time.”


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