About the Diaries
I first came across the diaries of Henry W. Schweigert through my friend/colleague/former supervisor at Albright College’s Gingrich Library, Sidney Dreese, who is the archivist there. He uncovered them in the archives not long after starting his position there in 2004. The diaries lacked any type of description or background information when they were discovered, other than the connection to Palatinate College, a predecessor to the current Albright College.
While taking a class on historical editing in the Fall 2013 semester at George Mason University, I wanted to gain more transcription experience, since I found that I really enjoyed that aspect of the class, among others. For practice I would transcribe a page or two here and there, trying to envision just who this mysterious Henry Schweigert was through his words. All I knew about him was that he was a farmer who attended Palatinate College in 1869 and kept nearly a daily record of his activities, and the weather. Many of the entries begin with the phrase, “A nice day,” which led to the naming of this site.
The Diaries reveal what Schweigert’s daily life was like, his activities, his handwriting style (which was fairly legible), and what he valued. He wrote a lot about visiting with family and friends, studying when he was in school, and planning lessons when he was a school teacher. He was also a religious man who walked to church a mile and a half both ways, every Sunday, according to Schweigert family legend. There are more historical references included in the diaries that highlight organizations such as the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Excelsior Literary Society, both of which Schweigert was a member. Although he wasn’t a famous or well-known figure, there is something tangible about the past that these diaries reveal.
While I have yet to transcribe all of the diaries, which span from 1869 - 1881, with a few years missing in between, I intend to finish them over the summer so that others can enjoy them as much as I have.
I’d also like to thank (in addition to Sid Dreese) the descendants of Henry W. Schweigert who have graciously provided me with additional copies of the diaries that complement the diaries that are located at Albright College’s Special Collections & Archives, as well as the photos of Henry and his family, to use for this project.
-April N. Kelley, May 2014
About the Editor
April N. Kelley is currently a student at George Mason University, pursuing a Masters in History with a concentration in Applied History in New Media. She holds a Masters in Library Science with a concentration in Archives from the University of Maryland in College Park, MD and a B.A. in History from Albright College in Reading, PA. April also works as a Research, Reference and Instruction Specialist at Mason's Arlington Campus Library.
If you have more information on Henry W. Schweigert or Palatinate College and would like to contact April, please send an email to her at akelley3(at)gmu(dot)edu.