Original Diary


Original Diary


Anna Clift Smith's life on Van Buren Point during the winter of 1904-1905.


This slight, unbound manuscript is one of several local documents on deposit in the Local History Collections at Daniel A. Reed Library. Its hand-written text, with delicate colored pencil and water-color illustrations, done on paper almost as thin as tissue, conveys the sometimes wistful, sometimes hale and hearty world view of this paradoxical young woman.

Anna titled her little book Van Buren Life. It is an account of her daily experiences during that harsh winter on the Lake at the location of the then tiny summer community of Van Buren Point. The tales start with her recounting an especially fierce storm which frightened even staunch Anna, with its whistling winds which made the walls strain and moan. Anna wondered whether her simple cottage would stand throughout the night.

Other "chapters" tell how she painted and drew, even when the cold numbed her hands. She talked about how she coped with irresponsible day laborers who had been hired to cut wood, but who worked so slowly that she dismissed them and did the wood-cutting herself. She described of her menus and her cooking, and of her well-stocked pantry, full of provisions which she had laid up during the harvest season for the cold weather ahead.

She wrote her story to a mysterious friend, about whom we never learn much. The tales are told in a down-to-earth, yet stunningly evocative narrative style. Complemented by her appealing illustrations, this book is a very special bit of testimony about her life and the life of people of that day in this locale. Many chapters are begun with a homey illustrated initial, calling to mind the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages.

For more information, see Reed Library Archives & Special Collections' website.


Smith, Anna Clift





Collection Items

Anna's original handwritten and hand-illustrated letter/diary begun on 29 December 1904, found among the Judge John Lambert papers in Daniel A. Reed Library's Special Collections.
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