In 2010, I discovered my second great-grandfather’s journals held by the Special Collections Department, State Historical Society of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa. (Please see the “Conditions for Reproduction” on the copyright page for guidance before using the material contained on this site.)
Isaac Newton Carr’s journals hold a treasure-trove of names, dates, events and 19th century farm life. Due to the amount of detail, historians and agricultural students have sought out this collection for their own publications.
Isaac volunteered for service in September 1861. His first journal entry was dated November 16, 1861. His 1861 and 1862 journal entries were sporadic. Sadly, his 1863 and 1864 journals were lost. From 1865 through 1923 his journal entries were written on a daily basis. They contain his thoughts and actions, initially as a Union soldier. After the war he journaled about his every-day encounters as a father, neighbor, farmer and businessman. Isaac wrote about family members, friends and acquaintances. He documented the births of his children and others, anniversaries and deaths. He kept track of his income and expenses. Most importantly, he shared his innermost thoughts and feelings. Isaac’s sense of humor is evident in many of his passages.
Isaac was determined that his journals be kept and he so stated this in his will. After he died, the journals passed from his wife, Margaret, to his son, Dr. Leslie Lewis Carr. When Dr. Carr died, his wife, Lavanda, apparently donated the collection to the Iowa Historical Society.
Carole Carr Magnuson
NOTE: No effort was made to add punctuation, or to correct spelling or grammar in Isaac’s entries. Some explanatory notes will appear in brackets and links to other websites are included to assist the reader.