Women’s History Month—The Civil War Diaries of Emilie Davis
Celebrate Women’s History Month by exploring transcripts of Emilie Davis’ diaries. Davis was an African American woman living in Philadelphia during the U.S. Civil War. In three of her pocket diaries (1863, 1864, and 1865) she “recounts black Philadelphians’ celebration of the Emancipation Proclamation, nervous excitement during the battle of Gettysburg, and their collective mourning of President Lincoln.” Her diaries provide readers the opportunity to “experience the Civil War in real time as events unfolded for Americans.”
The original diaries, part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s (HSP) collections, were transcribed by Villanova students for The People’s Contest: A Civil War Era Digital Archiving Project. Working to advance scholarship on Pennsylvania during the Civil War era, the Richards Civil War Era Center, The Pennsylvania State University Libraries, Senator John Heinz History Center, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania curated The People’s Contest to highlight archives and special collections throughout the commonwealth.
Led by Judith Giesberg, PhD, Robert M. Birmingham Chair in the Humanities, Professor of History at Villanova University, Memorable Days: The Emilie Davis Diaries project features scans and transcriptions from Emilie’s pocket diaries. Support for the website project was provided by Villanova University’s Falvey Memorial Library, The Department of History, Department of Communication, and the Villanova Institute for Teaching and Learning. Transcriptions and annotations were conduction by Villanova students. View the full list of contributors on the project webpage. Website development was provided by Michael Mafodda, MBA, and Samantha Viani ’14 CLAS.
Read Davis’ diaries here. For additional resources visit the links below:
- Memorable Days by Emilie Davis (2012)
- Emilie Davis’s Civil War: the diaries of a free Black woman in Philadelphia, 1863-1865 by Emilie Davis, edited by Judith Giesberg (2014)
- The Civil War pocket diaries of Emilie Frances Davis by Karsonya Whitehead (2014)
Explore more Women’s History Month resources in this blog by Susan Turkel, Social Sciences Librarian, and this resource list by Merrill Stein, Political Science Librarian. For help with your research, please contact the Gender and Women’s Studies Librarian Jutta Seibert.
Kallie Stahl ’17 MA is Communication and Marketing Specialist at Falvey Memorial Library.