One of my favorite sources for historical content and context are diaries. Madeline L. Wells lived in Danielson, Connecticut, when she kept a diary that recently came into the collection here at CHS. She was about 22 in 1943 and kept a meticulous record of the major news stories of the day, all recorded in clear block print. For example, on Tuesday, April 20, 1943, she noted that Adolph Hitler’s 59th birthday was celebrated with “little enthusiasm” by the German people and that the British Army continued its advance toward Tunis. Only rarely do we get an idea of her personal activities.
On Tuesday, July 13, 1943, she noted that she received her Red Cross First Aid material, consisting of a blanket, 50 sponges, and 40 bandages. The following day she attended a First Aid meeting at 8:00 pm. On Thursday, there was a daylight practice air raid and she had to report an incident which took place in front of her father’s store, where she was the store keeper. Two other people acted as “First Aiders.”
Although the war affected Madeline some, with air raid drills and first aid training, most of her entries indicate she was able to go swimming (or skating in season ), see the latest movies and go horseback riding. Perhaps her interest in what was occurring overseas related in part to the fact that her younger brother Richard was in the Army. In 1943 he was still in the United States. Now, if we only had her diaries for 1944 and 1945 . . .