Over 100 years ago, Claire’s grandmother, Clara, hopped on a ship and moved to Sydney. She did this on her own at quite a young age. Thankfully, for us, she kept a diary. Even more thankfully, Claire kept it, along with a lot of letters written to and by Clara down through the years.
The diary has a bit of water damage on it but, on the whole, is still readable. I’ve volunteered to scan and transcribe the diary.
She was a pretty amazing woman, leaving everything and everyone she knew and moving to a new country. She had no Internet or mobile phone, just the mail service and her own wits. It was a big thing when mum and dad decided to travel halfway around the world to a new life but at least they had each other (and me and Denise) but Clara had no-one.
The letters, which Claire also kept, vary from sympathy messages when her husband, George, died unexpectedly young, to a transcribed note on how to keep a cow.
The letters I have completely scanned (some I have transcribed). Thankfully most of them are dated so they can now be read in order. The diary, naturally, is in date order so should be a lot easier to catalogue. I’m thinking of creating a Clara blog for it.
The reason I’m talking about her letters is because today I finished scanning them onto the computer. Reading them has given me a greater insight into her personality and the hardships she faced. They also provide a small window into her life in NSW. I’m hoping the diary will open the window a lot wider.
The best thing about Clara’s correspondence is that she did that thing that lots of people used to do. She wrote out most of her letters as a first draft. This gives me the added opportunity of seeing her amendments as well as the overall intent.
Of course, today we have a copy automatically when we write on a computer or we can just photocopy it. Clara didn’t have that luxury, so we have a lot of letters with COPY writ large across the top.
It’s all quite fascinating. And I can’t wait to get going on the diary.