Diaries in the Old West and a Give Away!


The most famous American on the planet (at least for a period of time) was none other than William Frederick “Buffalo Bill” Cody. He was a former scout, an Indian fighter and a buffalo hunter. But most of us know him as the guy who created “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” in 1883. A circus-like attraction that featured cowboys, Native peoples, Turks, Gauchos, Arabs, Mongols and Georgians (often referred to as Cossacks). The show was very popular and made international stars of many of its performers such as Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull. It was also what many consider the forerunner to the modern-day rodeo and inspired a generation of film makers like John Ford, John Wayne and Sam Peckinpah.

But everything wasn’t glitz and glamour with the show. Cody ran up against hard times and if it wasn’t for an Englishman by the name of Evelyn Booth (who was worth a cool 25 million) the show most definitely wouldn’t have gone on. Booth tagged along with Cody and the show and recorded his experiences in a diary that, over time, found its way into the hands of the Denver Public Library. If not for Booth’s travel diary, we wouldn’t know all we know today about the show.

Diaries written back in the day are a wealth of information for us modern folks. What better way to learn about the past than from those who lived in it day to day? Diaries and manuscripts from the past have become big business as well, and folks clamor after these treasures with gusto. And why not? You can step into the past and get a first-hand look at what it was like to live back then. Hand-written diaries are also a popular item for collectors. I have a few myself.

As far as diaries on the market, their historical content is what drives the price. Diaries with Civil War and western frontier settings are highly sought after. If they have drawings in them, even better!
Diary writing has been making a big comeback lately and you can find all sorts of fancy journals and diaries on sites like Amazon and Etsy. Not that any of our hand-written diaries will be sought after by history buffs long after we’re gone, but one never knows!

Do you currently keep a diary? Have you ever kept one? I’ll pick a random person from the comments to receive a free e-copy of Trail to Clear Creek, in which my heroine does indeed keep a diary while traveling west.

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Kit Morgan is the author of over 100 books of historical and contemporary western romance! Her stories are fun, sweet stories full of love, laughter, and just a little bit of mayhem! Kit creates her stories in her little log cabin in the woods in the Pacific Northwest. An avid reader and knitter, when not writing, she can be found with either a book or a pair of knitting needles in her hands! Oh, and the occasional smidge of chocolate!

41 thoughts on “Diaries in the Old West and a Give Away!”

  1. I have really good intentions of keeping a journal really often. I have kept a decent one when travelling. I spent some time out of the country and wrote about my time among another peoples. I plan to write more this year and will set aside time each Sunday. For me it’s a time to reflect, remember, and understand myself better.

  2. I did keep a diary when I was a teenager. I have not kept a diary in years. Thank you for the opportunity.

  3. I don’t keep a Diary, but I do not notes in my planner.

    I remember reading diaries from women in different eras, including the Old West, in a Women’s Studies class in college.

  4. I have never been able to keep a regular diary, although I’ve tried to start one several times. I’m just never able to stick with it. I guess it’s a sign of my too-busy life. However, I have kept travel diaries, and I’ve traveled to around 45 other countries..

  5. My husband’s home town has a Western Collection library. I went there for research and got immersed in the original diary of a woman who came West on a wagon train. It was wonderful – but you had to read between the lines, because there’s SO much that wasn’t mentioned back then – pregnancy, birth, etc. With I could have talked to her in person!

  6. I don’t keep a diary. I was honored to have gotten to go to Cody, WY this last summer and we visited Wild Bill Cody’s museum. What a showplace. Have you ever visited it Kit? If not I highly recommend seeing it.

  7. Good morning! I’ve never had the discipline to keep a diary. I wish I had! I’ve actually had a life worth keeping track of and just didn’t ever get it done! Mostly because of the ups and downs I’ve had with MS, numerous surgeries but also, the life of being one of 7, divorced parents, the death of 2 siblings, a daughter that was molested, and 2 marriages. Plus, I died once but they were able to revive me. I was declared brain dead even but on the day they were going to turn off life support i woke up and all the test results showed no damage to my brain or any organs. Yep, I’m a living breathing miracle! Stay safe in the very difficult and uncertain times.

  8. I keep a journal, though not as faithfully as when I was younger. There’s a great museum about Buffalo Bill in Oakley KS. My family stops there frequently when we have trips going west.

    • I was much better at it when I was younger, that’s for sure. But now “diaries” have become a bit of an art form. So I got one and tried drawing in it. It’s fun, Debra!

  9. I kept a diary when I was a teenager, and off and on over the years I’ve kept different journals. I’ve had one now for a few years. I don’t write in it every day, but it always helps me to put my thoughts down.

  10. I have used the diary idea in my books many times. One reason is that it is an “active” way to inform the reader what has happened or is happening to an around the heroine. She writes about it. The heroine writing a letter home is another way to do this. I hate when the “author” “tells” the reader what has happened. That is passive, and it puts the author into the story, which should never happen, so having the heroine (or hero) write a letter of keep notes is a great way to “skip time” and yet clue the reader in on what has happened.

  11. Kept a diary when I was a teenager! Then my mom found it and read it & that was the end of that! Haha!!

  12. YES!!! My Grandmother kept a daily diary for all of her 94 years and I too have done so since in high school!! Love to look back over them!!

  13. This is a cool post. Welcome today. Thanks for sharing this with us. I kept a diary for oh so many years. About 8 years before I got married, I started journaling to God. This turned into a prayer journal. Have been doing this for approx. 45 years now. My mom taught me to be a prayer warrior and how to take it to Gods level as much as possible.
    quilting dash lady at comcast dot net

  14. I have never kept one. I have a hard time writing down my deepest feelings or even saying what is on my mind.

  15. I’ve never kept a diary (at least for more than a few days as a kid). Someone made a homemade prayer journal a while back and I’m hoping to start using that this year. She decorated and prayed over each page and wrote reflection questions and scriptures on it. It was made my a lady in her 90s at church who makes them for as many people as she can. She’s who I want to be like when I’m that age.

  16. So amazing, I’ve now seen two posts here on P&P talking about Buffalo Bill and his Wild West show. And I just happen to be writing a book with the Wild West show as the background. Talk about serendipity!

  17. I need to get here earlier not to miss the giveaway. I do not regularly keep a diary and really wish I had. When I was in the Peace Corps, my letters home worked pretty much like a diary. Although, there were certainly many things I didn’t tell them. When I traveled then and I have made it a habit to do now, I keep a journal. I log in the day, the weather, the route we took, where we stay, and what we have done or seen that day. The best way to do it is to write as the day happens. If I wait until I stop for the night, little things of interest may be forgotten.

  18. I don’t think I have ever kept a diary that I can remember. If I ever did it was when I was a kid and I don’t remember if I did. I really enjoyed your post though.

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