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Diaries of Elizabeth Duncan

Call Number: RH MS A26


Three diaries kept by Elizabeth Duncan in the mid 1860s, both while she lived in Lawrence, Kansas and while she traveled overland from Lawrence to San Jose, California in 1867. Typical entries may include discussion of the weather, Duncan's daily activities, information about her family and friends or acquaintances who came to visit or wrote, and her own spiritual and emotional states.


  • 1864 - 1868


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of Elizabeth Duncan

Elizabeth "Bettie" Watts was born October 18, 1837 in Kentucky. In her late teens she married Wesley Harvey Duncan, born April 18, 1814 in Virginia.

By the early 1860s the couple had moved to Kansas and had two daughters; W. H. Duncan had also had at least one child from a previous marriage. The family survived Quantrill's Raid of the summer of 1863 on Lawrence, but Duncan's store was burned during the raid. In 1867 Duncan decided to move his family to California for new opportunities. The move did not last long, and in 1868 they moved back to Kansas, where Duncan once again operated a hardware store in downtown Lawrence.

Elizabeth Duncan died September 26, 1879. Wesley H. Duncan died September 21, 1902, and both were buried in Lawrence's Oak Hill Cemetery.


3 Volumes ; Largest is 15.5 cm tall.

Physical Location


Physical Location


Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Myra S. Blackman, 1975.

Related Materials

Ladies of Lawrence portrait album, RH PH 51, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Myra Blackman papers, RH MS 1007, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.


Items available at the Spencer Research Library that have made use of Duncan's diaries include
  • "Diary of daily life, Lawrence, Kansas: Elizabeth Duncan in 1864" by Katie Armitage, RH MS P753, Kenneth Spencer Research Library.
  • "A Transcription and Interpretation of a Diary by Elizabeth Duncan" by Laura Tilson, RH MS P440, Kenneth Spencer Research Library.

Processing Information


Guide to the Elizabeth Duncan Collection
Diaries of Elizabeth Duncan
Finding aid prepared by lgg, March 1975. Finding aid encoded by mg, 2004. Finding aid revised by mwh, 2018.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid writtenin<language> English.</language>
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
Diaries of Elizabeth Duncan, RH MS A26, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States