by Dennis Stoesz
Elizabeth Showalter (born in 1907) pictured here
with her first edited copy of the junior paper Words of
Cheer, 1949, at Mennonite Publishing House, Scottdale, Pa. Her
diary for 1948-51, which includes her time in Iowa and Scottdale,
starts off with this prayer: "Thanks, Dear God, for the warmth of
thy fellowship in 1947. Grant, I pray thee, for 1948, greater
understanding of thyself, thy plans, myself, and those about me.
With understanding, give me love. For thine own sake. Amen."
Source: Elizabeth Showalter Collection.
Vesta Zook (1891-1973), Constantinople, Turkey,
1921-22 (left) and Vinora Weaver (right), Mennonite relief workers.
Zook begins her 1921 ocean diary on "March 29th when she
and Weaver board the ship at the New York harbor. On April
16th, her entry reads "Enter Constantinople harbor about
7 o'clock. Anchor for the night. The city presents a beautiful
sight at night. The mosques and minarets are wonderful. Source:
Vesta (Zook) Slagel Collection.
Rhea Yoder (1898-1992), pictured here as a
to India, 1950. She served as a teacher in the Woodstock boarding
school for missionary and other children in northern India for ten
years. Her vacation diary to "South India" for 1950-51 begins,
"December 6 through 16, With Miss Good at Balodgalion. Crocheted,
served, knitted, and attended Annual Business meeting at Beare's
bungalo. Paul Erb and S. C. Yoder had active parts in the program.
December 15 through January 15, With Jonathans at Dhamtari. Served
for girls and myself." Her other diaries include: Trip, 1952-53;
and Assam and Darjeeling Trip, December 1954. Source: Rhea Yoder
Elizabeth Yoder Woodiwiss (1889-1986), pictured
here as an 18-year-old in 1907, at Surrey, N.D., where five
families from Kishacoquillas Valley, Pa., had moved in 1903. In her
1912 diary, at Minot, N.D, she wrote: "Thursday June 27. A very
warm day. It was almost impossible to keep comfortable in church.
S. S. [Sunday School] Conference was very good. Church was pretty
well filled. Quite a few visitors attended. Some from the Brethren
church and some Nazarenes also some Norwegian Lutherans."
Source: Elizabeth Yoder Woodiwiss Collection.
Source for much of the information on this page
is Anne Yoder,
"A Guide to Mennonite Women's Diaries, 1850-1950," in Mennonite
Quarterly Review (October 1996, pages 483-495). This article
provides a good introduction to women's diaries, and a list of some
of the diaries by women found in the Mennonite archives at
Harrisonburg, Va.; Lancaster, Pa.; Harleysville, Pa.; Goshen, Ind.;
and Metamora, Ill.