Tweets from 1937
In 1937, a young woman named Genny Spencer started keeping a "line-a-day" diary, documenting the ordinary day-to-day life of living on a farm in rural Illinois with her two brothers. She was in her early teens at the time. Today, sixty two years later, Genny Spencer passed away.
How do I know this, and what does it have to do with technology?
In the waning months of 2008, the diary came into the possession of blogger and social media strategist David Griner. Ms. Spencer was Griner's great aunt, and as he and his sister examined the article, his sister said "This is the Twitter of the 1930s." (Read the full story on Griner's blog.) That sparked an idea, and on January 1st, 2009 Griner started posting the diary, one entry per day, via Twitter.
For January 1st, the entry read "Sawed wood today. Harold Beckmeyer helped. First time he ever ate dinner here. Mother washed."
Many of the posts are like this. Genny lived a mostly quiet life (at least, she did in January and February of 1937...who knows what her future holds?) but this is part of what makes following her so fascinating. Getting this glimpse of what life was like back well before most of us were born. And before long you start getting caught up in the events of her life:
Jan 23rd: Dad went to town. Made a cake. Wasn't any good. Fred Johnson's pretty sick.
Jan 24th: Went back to school to-day. Fred Johnson has pneumonia in both lungs. Got two new scalers today.
I start to wonder what a scaler is, and hope that Fred Johnson will get better. A few days later, the news is mixed:
Jan 30th: Daddy went to town. Creeks got up. Rained. Fred much better now. Mrs. O'Farrell died.
Now, Mr. Griner could have just published the diary online and that would've been wonderful, but I don't think it would have had the same drama and impact that feeding it to us in 'real time' via Twitter has.
Although Ms Spencer is now gone, we can hope that Mr. Griner continues to Tweet her diary, which runs to 1941.
Follow Genny Spencer here, and you can 'catch up' by starting with her Jan 1st tweet which is here as of this writing (Twitter 'counts backwards' so page one of her journal will move as more Tweets are added).
As of today, Genny has 2,390 followers. On behalf of all the people who read her diary every day, I would like to thank Mr. Griner for undertaking this project, and to offer condolences on the passing of Genny Spencer. May she rest in peace.