– Kindred WNY spirits in history?
Since I began working at The Buffalo History Museum last July, I’ve thought more about personal histories and the artifacts that we leave behind as individuals.
During my first month, Melissa, The Buffalo History Museum Executive Director, referred to the diary of Mabel Barnes numerous times. Mabel’s diary is one of the museum’s most detailed personal journals in its collection from the 1901 Pan American Exposition. Our conversations about Mabel’s diary and how valuable it is to researchers today – 113 years after the Pan Am – inspired me to dive into my personal journals, which had not been cracked open since 2004.
From the ages of 12 – 19, I was adamant about journal writing. I have a stack of bright spiral bound notebooks, covers ranging from leopard fur, polka dots and hot pink, documenting my adolescent years. It’s pretty incredible to look back ten, fifteen years ago and read, in my own handwriting, about what ailed me.
Honestly, I forgot how hard high school was. I forgot how stressed I became over school, sports, a part time job and friends. The excerpt photographed is from May, 2003. As juniors, we had to take five NYS Regents (English, American History, Chemistry, Math B and Foreign Language) exams within the same week. It was grueling. Studying for and passing these exams was all I wrote about for a month.
There was a break in the study pattern when my best friend and I bought copies of “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” – we even drove ourselves in Shannon’s clunker and ate at Mighty Taco – at MIDNIGHT! Very cool at 17 years old…
Twenty-five pages of suspense later, I wrote about passing all five Regents exams, though not all with grades mom wanted to plaster on the fridge.
I took a hiatus from journal writing from college through last year. My exposure to personal histories here at the museum has made me more cognizant of my personal legacy. I want my grandchildren to read what I went through – to know that I, too, worried about passing tests, getting my driver’s license, and finding a prom date (not an easy feat at an all girl’s high school). I hope that my future family will be able to relate and find joy from my teenage years.
My New Years’ resolution was to start journaling again this year. Two and a half months in, I’m holding strong.
Director of Resource Development
Mabel Barnes, daughter of Joshua Barnes, a confectioner, was born in 1877 and was part of the Old Central High School graduating class of 1894. She began her teaching career with the Buffalo Public Schools at School 23 on Delavan Street in November 1895. She attended the 1901 Pan Am Exhibition 34 times.