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It’s been a while…

I’ve been working this past week on transcription – I finished 1867 and began 1868. During these years, Isadore is becoming more involved with what she called the Good Templers (sic); or, I.O.G.T. => the Independent Order of Good Templars [yes, I’m pretty sure Dora “misspells” their name; she offers challenging spelling, from time to time].

What begins as notice of a few meetings, becomes a torrential several-times-a-week meeting-up.

I don’t yet know if Springfield was late in joining the wave – or if Isadore was merely ripe for becoming an enthusiastic member. It cannot have been easy for a young lady of swayable opinions to meet and stay captivated by local friends. She so seems to blow hot and cold. I must admit, though, I can understand why she takes to people. and then feels let down by them. A “body” of like-minded individuals, such as must have attended any of the Good Templars’ meetings, surely gave Isadore people outside herself to be with and, more importantly, to converse with and exchange ideas with.

As you might guess, (being the middle of the 19th century), I.O.G.T.’s roots were in the temperance movement. I.O.G.T.’s blog makes a good case for it also offering to women a voice. It may be that very ability – to join, to prosper, to have the potential for female leaders – that attracted Isadore Albee to the Good Templars. In her diary, she does not put a rationale into words. She acted upon her desire, and carried out that desire by showing up. She gave her approbation by continually attending. She never says (or not yet, anyway) what happened at meetings, or how she felt about what passed. She sometimes seems to intimate a guest speaker, though rarely follows through with what he (inevitably…) spoke on. I hope to find out more from the local newspaper.

I’ve also been reading what I’ve already transcribed – going back, for instance, to 1865. There was a time when I grew disappointed in what I read as I transcribed. But, re-reading it (and seeing notes I scribbled between entries), there is more of a story that begins emerging, although that initial excitement of young love and the Civil War patriotism was passing.

And I have been READING. The support material this past week mainly has been Lynn A. Bonfield’s New England to Gold Rush California: The Journal of Alfred and Chastina W. Rix, 1849-1854. This has been MOST beneficial, in that both Chastina Rix and Isadore Albee worked as teachers. The line between being a “still-learning” student and a certified teacher seems, (to someone in the 21st century), to have been quite blurred. The see-sawing, back and forth, between seeking schooling as pupil and attending school as teacher at the head of a class, makes more sense after reading how Chastina Rix, as a new bride, slipped into a teaching position. Even better was the introduction to chapter two (prior to the diary for these months), in which Bonfield explains more about the local schools in Vermont a decade-plus before Isadore Albee was boarding out for her various teaching positions.

How I wish I could locate one article – it appeared in Vermont History (the journal of the Vermont Historical Society), but back in the 1980s. That article is Margaret K. Nelson, “Vermont Female Schoolteachers in the Nineteenth Century,” Vermont History 49 (winter 1981). Bonfield cites it, as do several other works. I may have to contact VHS, since my last visit to a library – on the campus of the University of Vermont – was greeted by a firmly locked door (ie, students only), thanks to covid restrictions.

But other readings from the journal have been informative:

Published by Janeite Kelly

My ties to Jane Austen began about the time I "discovered" England, British movies & TV (thanks, PBS, CBC), and cups of tea with a nice Marks & Spencer digestive on the side. A solo trip to London, when aged nineteen, segued into a weekend in Cornwall (home of Daphne du Maurier and Winston Graham's Poldarks) -- which resulted in a missed flight home.... Those three weeks abroad undoubtedly brought into my life women like Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Beatrix Potter, Somerville and Ross, the Brontës, Mrs Trollope, Jane Welsh Carlyle, Dorothy Wordsworth, Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler (collectively, The Ladies of Llangollen), and -- of course, Jane Austen. I joined JASNA in the fall of 2006 when my research meandered down an Austen-path; and I spent two months during the summer of 2007 in Winchester, transcribing diaries & letters relating to Emma Smith (aka: Mrs James-Edward Austen-Leigh, 1801-1876) and her friend, neighbour, "sister of the heart" and eventual sister-in-law, Mary Gosling (aka: Lady Smith, 1800-1842). Several articles written since this trip appear in JASNA's journal, PERSUASIONS / Persuasions On-Line, and LOCAL PAST, the Newsletter of the Alcester and District Historical Society (Warwickshire, England).

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