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William Shepherd Diaries

Identifier: MSN/EA 8005

Scope and Contents

Three of the four items in this group are pocket diaries of the daily calendar type, kept by Shepherd for the years 1854, 1855, and 1859. Shepherd maintained his diaries faithfully; taken together, the three volumes bear entries for all but 23 days. Individual entries typically run from 25 to 40 words, though many are shorter and a few longer. Many of the entries treat the immediate events of Shepherd's life: his health, work, and occasional trips to Boston; news of his children and other acquaintances; memorable local events; the weather and other aspects of nature. There are also a good many observations on state and national politics, informed as a rule by Shepherd's own sympathies (he aligned himself with the Know Nothings and later with the Republicans, and was an ardent Abolitionist). Much of this commentary is supplemented by clippings pasted or inserted into the volumes. Finally, the diaries contain a good deal that is essentially introspective; most of this content is of a religious nature, bearing on themes of sin, salvation, and death. The diaries were also used for accounts and other personal financial data. The fourth volume in the group (1851-56) seems to be a kind of mourning notebook, with entries and clippings on the deaths of local and national figures (including Henry Clay and Daniel Webster).


  • Creation: 1851-1862


Conditions Governing Access

There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright status for collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Biographical / Historical

Little can be learned of William Shepherd beyond the evidence provided by these diaries. He was born on 14 June 1794, in Massachusetts. From 1851 he was employed at the Millville, Massachusetts textile factory of E. S. Hall & Co, a maker of fancy cassimeres. The 1860 U. S. Census identifies him as a wool sorter, living in Blackstone, Worcester County, apparently as a boarder. By the time he began these particular diaries he seems to have been a widower; grown children are mentioned. The prose preserved in the diaries shows him to have been a literate, politically engaged man, whose view of the world was profoundly colored by his Episcopal faith.


4 Volumes

Language of Materials



Three diaries with daily entries for 1854, 1855, and 1859 kept by William Shepherd, a textile factory worker from Blackstone, Worcester County, Massachusetts. A fourth volume in the group is a sort of mourning notebook kept by Shepherd in the 1850s.


Items are aranged chronologically, one per folder.


William Shepherd Diaries
George Rugg
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Notre Dame Rare Books & Special Collections Repository

102 Hesburgh Library
Notre Dame IN 46556