Lizzie Alcott’s Hillside Diary

I am pleased to share with you the only known existing journal of Elizabeth Alcott.

Disclaimer #1: I cannot guarantee total accuracy as I am not a professional transcriber.  If there is something you want to quote for a paper, please email me through the Contact page, note the page or pages you want, and I will send you photographs of these pages.

Disclaimer #2: I have annotated it with notes and insights (in red) — please keep in mind that these notes are often just my opinion about what I read  (and a few might not make sense to you) — these opinions should not be taken otherwise.

Please use the citation information below if you want to quote this diary. 

Enjoy this rare look at Lizzie Alcott at ages 10 and 11.

Alcott, Elizabeth Sewell, A.MS. diary 19 Apr-4 Oct 1846, Amos Bronson Alcott papers, MS Am 1130.9 (24) Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.


12 thoughts on “Lizzie Alcott’s Hillside Diary

  1. Thanks so much for sharing this, Susan! It was wonderful to read & now I feel that I’ve been in the woods with violets & autumn leaves & roasted apples. 🙂

    A few thoughts — writing as I read:

    ❀ Any idea what “The White Rose” was that she read April 19 & April 22?
    ❀ I loved that she played “Go to Boston” with Abba. 😉
    ❀ April 23: My guess is “cyphens” is “cyphers.”
    ❀ I love how often they pick flowers. She read Abba Oliver Twist!
    ❀ Marmee went swinging with them!
    ❀ So many violets & pressed flowers — & she takes the time to listen to the birds. I also love how much time they spend in the woods. 🙂
    ❀ Any chance you’ll share May’s 1852 diary? I notice you mentioned it. I’d love to read it — though I understand if you can’t.
    ❀ I love your analysis of Lizzie on June 10.
    ❀ From September 11: Any idea what “Holidays from Home” was? I couldn’t find anything by Google. 🙂
    ❀ From September 27: Any idea why she & Abba suddenly stop attending Miss Foord’s school?
    ❀ I see at the end she had filled this journal. Any idea what happened to the others? Or is this the only one she wrote?


    1. Did I ask too many questions, Susan? As you know, I dearly love the Alcotts & am interested in whatever there is to know. I found reading this journal yesterday calming & lovely. It’s crazy it was written nearly 200 years ago. She sounds like us! 🙂 I only asked the above because I’m ridiculously interested. Sorry if I overstepped (which I suspect I did as you’ve answered or acknowledged everyone within this thread — accept me. I HAVE NEVER FELT MORE LIKE JO.) 😉


      1. You my friend could never ask too many questions! I did forget and my apologies. Happy to answer your questions:

        With regards to the White Rose I looked it up too and I couldn’t find it so I don’t know what it was.

        Lizzie really knew her flowers to she knew all the names and she got to look at the parts of a flower under a microscope. Honestly, I think it’s the time of been right and she’d had the correct education, she could have been a botanist or biologist.

        I don’t have any plans right now for transcribing May’s diary because of time. That one is a challenge not because it’s not readable but because of all the spelling errors that you can easily gloss over. That one requires special attention. I’ll write more about it though in the future.

        Regarding my Reflections on June 10th, thank you. I feel it’s the whole point of reading this diary.

        I also tried to find holidays from home but couldn’t find it either.

        She in a bus stopped attending Miss Foord school because Miss Foord left. Remember that she had proposed to Thoreau and you know how that went! 🙂 she probably was too embarrassed to remain. Too bad cuz the children really loved her.

        This is the only existing diary. There are letters that she wrote when she went to the seashore in 1857 and then she kept a short Diary of her doings each day. But other than that we don’t have anything else sadly

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ha ha! And here I’d assumed I was unforgettable. 😛

        Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. x

        I had tried to look up the titles Lizzie mentions & couldn’t locate them either. Too bad. I’d especially love to read “Holidays from Home.” I love reading those old works from another era.

        “I don’t have any plans right now for transcribing May’s diary because of time.” Oh, I see! Totally understandable. I thought you already had it transcribed. x

        Regarding Lizzie as a botanist: she must have really listened to Thoreau during their walks. I wonder if he noticed her interest. (That’s not a bid for further answers. I am thinking rhetorically.)

        Oh, & I didn’t know that about Miss Foord! I just thought she was some random teacher. I didn’t realize she’s part of the Concord story! See, now I’ll need to read a biography on Thoreau. I just found this blog, which you may find interesting. 😉

        Happy researching & writing, Susan! 💐

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Reading this was just wonderful! One thing I noticed was that she
    had a very special loving relationship with EACH sister! She certainly spent a lot of time entertaining little May, which was a huge help to Mother and Anna and Louisa, who disliked the responsibility of overseeing a fidgety child, when she wanted to enjoy herself. I was surprised that Lizzie enjoyed learning French like Anna; also, that she didn’t hate math even though it was confounding 😖 at times. From this diary one can get a good idea about the vegetables, nuts and berries and other fruits the family was eating. To me it is worth noting that the girls, especially Lizzie, liked to play in Mother’s room – it must have been particularly cozy.
    Lizzie was Daddy’s girl but even he couldn’t get her to eat and take powders and pellets and put on some weight during her decline.
    Not only did Lizzie play the sick lady, she did write on several occasions that she was unwell and didn’t attend school then. Is this when her stomach problems came to light?
    If I remember correctly, it was Louisa who didn’t like it when Miss Foord was staying with the Alcotts.
    It’s amazing how these few short journal entries can give us so much rumination! And Lizzie doesn’t sound like a painfully shy girl. I wonder if Louisa invented that to be a fault for her flawless sister?

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for sharing! I loved finding out more about their simple lifestyle (compared to the fast-paced world of today!) and the background of the Alcotts and their relationships with one another. It’s cool to see names like Emerson casually written down as a family friend.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. re Spelling & Defining Lesson Friday(4) April-Update?hard-workingkindhumblemeeksweetsisterlydevotedaffectionatelovingtotally adorableLizzie


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