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Diary of Sara Jane Price
Teacher and Homesteader

I begin a new volume in my journal today. I have found it very pleasant work recording the events of my life as they have occurred in the past and hope to take much comfort in the record of the present volume if I am privileged to live to fill it.
     Diary of Sarah Jane Price, schoolteacher and homesteader, Hamilton County, Nebraska, Sept. 27, 1884.

Sara Jane Price was born in Clearmont County, Ohio, in 1841 and grew up in Indiana. In 1876 she and her father came to Hamilton County, Nebraska, where she taught school and eventually purchased a farm. According to the Centennial History of Hamilton County, "'Aunt Jane' was considered an Institution in Hamilton County, with her outstanding personality and leadership. She was an authority on many subjects and throughout her lifetime was revered by a wide circle of friends and admirers." She died in 1922.


The ten diaries of Sara Jane Price in the Nebraska State Historical Society collections span almost sixteen years. Starting with November 1878 and ending in June 1895, Price's daily entries are measured accounts of her life, from housekeeping, to her church work, to her struggle to be a good teacher. She worries about her teaching skills, about the number of people attending church services, about whether to purchase land from her neighbors, and ultimately about what she is achieving in her life. Price was a conscientious diarist, seldom missing a day even if it meant making a late night entry after a full and exhausting day of work.

Sunday eve, Dec. 1st 1878
I have not kept a diary for some time my time and mind has been so much occupied that I have excused myself from this duty and privilege. I purpose to do differently in the future. I hope to be able to write almost every day more or less or at least quite frequently

Last week I attended the Institute at Aurora. It began on Monday and lasted until Friday eve  We had a nice time good weather reasonable interest and the time was well improved  I learned many things which I hope to make of use in future formed many pleasant acquaintances among them  Miss Marion Lounsbury who was my roommate we spent the time very pleasantly together, I hope I did her no harm and believe she did me good. I learned many useful things at the Institute and felt myself repaid for my time and expenses which were four dollars

I attended church today. Brother Grundy preached did reasonably well his text was the parable of the grain of mustard seed, his grammar and elocution are very faulty but he seems in earnest and I believe will yet make a preacher whom the multitudes will respect  Our sunday-school was well attended and a good degree of interest manifested in the lessons  Our quarterly meeting will be held here two weeks from today and tomorrow  I hope we shall have a good time of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.

I shall go into the schoolroom tomorrow again. I feel something like trying some of the new methods of teaching which we have been discussing at the Institute  Hope to be able to introduce word analysis soon as I think it a good plan for teaching spelling especially to advanced pupils. I must close for tonight as it is bedtime and I feel like improving my time sleeping having lost considerable sleep during the past week.


This entry from the last page of Price's 1897 diary, eloquently describes her reasons for keeping a record of her life.

Sabbath Nov. 30th 1879
I have filled a volume in my journal and shall lay it away for future reference. Its record covers about a year and I feel that there is much to regret but also much to be thankful for and while I see many errors there is much I have learned and temptations overcome and trials past I hope the record for next year will be better and nobler and whatever of trial may await me that I may be so happy as to pass through them without harm and gain a home at last where the wicked cease to trouble and the weary are at rest.   Sarah Jane Price


Price's diary entries reveal a very modest woman. Her obituary identifies her nomination by the Greenback Party for county school superintendent as a major achievement in her life, and for a woman in that time to receive that kind of recognition of her abilities was no small thing. In fact, her obituary mentions that the party's nominee for that position two years later was Silas A. Holcomb, later to be elected governor of the state. But Price's own diary makes surprisingly brief mention of her candidacy.

Sept. 30, 1879
Will spoke of Co Supt again I don't suppose I can win but I should like to have it if I could fill the place successfully

October 4th
Willis Wheeler is here tonight I rec'd the nomination as independent candidate for Co Supt by the G.B's today.

And finally on Nov. 7th,
I also learned what I had felt certain was so before that I am elected to stay at home and let Mr. Barton attend to the Supt office which is satisfactory to me

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