Collection number: MS 257
Size: (1 item) (0.10 cu.ft.)
About Nancy A.W. Priest (1837-1870)
Nancy Amelia Woodbury Priest was born in Winchendon, Massachusetts in December 1836 to Francis and Sophia Priest. As a teenager, she moved to Hinsdale, New Hampshire and worked in a mill. She was educated at a common school and enjoyed reading and writing. She began writing poetry when she was very young and composed her best-known poem, "Over the River," around 1856 when she was working in the mill. Over the course of 1855-1859, Nancy published five poems, under various names including her own, as well as Lizzie Lincoln, and others. In 1865, she married Arrington C. Wakefield in Winchendon, Massachusetts. In September of 1870, Nancy contracted typhoid fever and died. She left behind her husband and three young children, the youngest just an infant. Her mother, Sophia Priest, collected her poems in a book titled Over the River, and Other Poems and published them in 1883, thirteen years after Nancy's death.
About the Nancy A.W. Priest Diary
This diary was written over the course of the seven months between January and July of 1856, while Nancy Priest was working in a mill in New Hampshire. It contains drafts of poems. Several of her entries reflect a low self-esteem and melancholy and some include some suicidal ideation. Subjects on which she wrote include her work in the mill, her time spent with friends, activities she took part in around town, and going to church. Included with the diary is one photograph in fair condition of Nancy Priest, labeled but undated.
This collection is open.
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Nancy A.W. Priest Diary, 1856, MS 257, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.
Purchase: Carmen Valentino, August 2014 (Accession number: 2014.16)