Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Starting Back to Work

It's the day we all go back to work in the Archives . . . and there's plenty to do.

The Archives is open to researchers every Monday afternoon,from noon until 4:00 p.m..  This Monday I will be joined by Karen McKay, who began volunteering this fall.  (Karen is a mom of two school age children and we met while working at Little Norway, the beautiful outdoor museum in our area.)  Karen has been helpful with a number of jobs, but her ongoing work is reading 50 years worth of diaries written by Ida Rowell Kittleson.  They have never been processed before.

Ida's  Early Diaries
The diaries are the modest writings of a woman tracking her life from 1913 to 1963.  She starts as a young woman, soon to be married in 1913 to Harold C. Rowell in St. Paul, Minnesota.  Without any intention of creating a literary autobiography, Ida lets us see how lonely and, frankly, boring life was for a newly married young woman in a big city away from home.  Her new husband travels, she is left day after day to wile away the hours and spend time with her mother-in-law.

The early years of the dairies are a bit frustrating because Ida skips back and forth between her small notebooks, so it is hard to keep the chronology straight.  The more Karen reads, however, the easier it has become, as she gets to know the cast of characters and the ongoing events of Ida's life.

Reading the entries can also be difficult because Ida had such a matter-of-fact way of telling her story.  Karen came into the office one day with the latest diary in her hand.  "Now wait a minute!" she exclaimed.  "What's going on here?"  Karen then read a few entries that describe Ida visiting a hospital to "look" at babies, taking Harold there the next evening, and coming home with a baby boy, who they were so unprepared for that they put him to bed in a laundry basket that night.  Now we're trying to figure out Minnesota adoption laws in the early 1900's!

Ida's Diaries from the 1950's
We still aren't absolutely sure who Ida was.  We began a family tree on search and that helped verify some dates, names and places.  We haven't yet found out who Ida's parents were or why Ida came back to Mt. Horeb.  We do know that she divorces Harold and comes to Mt. Horeb with their son, Herbert (Rowell).  Abour 1930 she remarries a widower from the Mt. Horeb area, Carl Kittleson.  But Carl dies just a few years after they marry.  Ida died at the age of 99 in 1975.  She is buried in the Mt. Horeb Union cemetery next to Carl and Herbert having lived to be 99 years old.  She seems to have stopped writing in 1963.

Karen reads on and we will keep you posted.  If any of this rings a bell with you, please let us know, won't you?  Thanks for reading.   

1 comment:

  1. How fun to dissect and permanently record her personal record.
    Theresa (Tangled Trees)