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As far as diaries on the market, their historical content is what drives the price.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.