The Days of Julia Johnson Fisher: A Civil War Diary

 

© The Diary of Julia Johnson Fisher is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text. A digitized version of the complete diary is available at http://docsouth.unc.edu/fisherjulia/fisher.html This web-based presentation of the diary is made available with the permission of the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and their digital publishing initiative, Documenting the American South - http://docsouth.unc.edu

A PDF version is also availavle Here

Julia's Diary Described:

The Diary: Julia Johnson Fisher kept her diary over an eight-month period in 1864 and made a total of 55 entries.  At 297 words, the first entry is the longest.  Subsequent entries average under 100 words.  Because of their brevity, these entries are relatively easy for most middle school and high school students to read and digest.  As such, they provide an ideal way for students to learn about the impact of the Civil War in Georgia in general and Camden County and southeast Georgia in particular.

 
Ways to Read the Diary:

We have constructed five presentations of Julia's diary.  Each has a different degree and style of interpretive aids for students:

The first version is a daily presentation. There are 55 daily entries and a postscript. For each entry Julia wrote on a given day, we have subdivided the text by lexia, or stand-alone text chunk of text on a given topic. Each of these lexia has a corresponding diary topic.

The second version is a monthly presentation, including a separate web page for each month Julia kept the diary.  This is the simplest and cleanest way of presenting Julia’s writing.  As such, it is perhaps the best version for use by students who need a minimum of interpretive aids and scaffolding.

Our third version of the diary is color-coded by topic to enable comparison of Julia’s observations by topic or over time.    In a single diary entry, for example, Julia often writes on many different ways that the war has impacted life in her home of Camden County.   Sometimes she writes of more personal details, and sometimes of a broader social or political/economic context.  As such, we have used different colors to highlight these topics throughout Julia’s diary.  Portions of Julia’s diary which address social topics, for example, are highlighted in green.  Similarly, passages that discuss social context are highlighted in blue, and passages that describe the political, military, or economic significance of events are highlighted in purple.  While this scheme is a partial and imperfect one, it does make it much easier for students to trace Julia’s changing descriptions of each of these contexts over time.

The fourth approach, a full hypertext version of Julia’s diary, is still under construction.  When it is complete, it will include numerous links to sites that illuminate different topics throughout Julia’s diary.

The fifth and final version of Julia's diary, also still under construction, will be a Flash-animated version that combines the crisp page-turning experience of reading a real book with the linking and graphics capability of the Web.

Whichever version of the diary you find most enjoyable, we hope that our site brings new life and new meaning to Julia Johnson Fisher’s diary.  It is already a fascinating glimpse into the home front of the Civil War in Georgia.  Any comments or questions about the site can be addressed to Dr. John Lee, director of the Georgia Digital History Project, at jonn_lee@ncsu.edu