Here’s what I love about these mysterious diaries: our lady writer drops an intriguing hint that reveals 1920s life, before bringing the focus back to her own personal life.

“Sat. March 18

Ruth made preparations for going home.

Esther Nelson came up in forenoon & brot me a box of candy to pay her bet.  Glen came about 10:30 & Esther & he were both here for dinner.

Mama was busy all day long.

Mrs. McDonald & Mrs. Andrews came to see the Baby in afternoon.

Lovely day but so muddy.

Randalls & Jay went to the dance over at Rubys.

The Dr. came in the morning.  Elmer & Howard Carroll was here a little while in P.m.

In evening Jay & Randalls went to a Spiritualist Lecture.

Baby had the colic all evening.

Beautiful Day.”

What grabs my attention this time is the Spiritualist Lecture.  From the late 1800s and into the Great Depression, the entire western world was obsessed with spiritualism.  Séances were conducted to communicate with the spirits: sometimes famous people, but mostly the beloved dead.  Like midwifery, spiritualism was carried out by lay people who were mostly women–so guess what?  It was roundly condemned by established churches (reminds me of the Harry Potter kerfuffle 10 years ago).

Clearly, 1920s Montanans were intrigued by spiritualism– even a young rancher like our diarist’s husband Jay.  The killing fields of World War I (or the Great War) and the horrific influenza pandemic were barely four years past, and so many people had ‘crossed over’.

A cool blog about spiritualism in California during the roaring ’20s: http://steampunkopera.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/los-angeles-and-the-1920s-occult-explosion/

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