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Where the Wild Animals is Plentiful: Diary of an Alabama Fur Trader's Daughter, 1912-1914

Overview

This rare find--a journal of a young backwoods woman--provides a unique picture of rural life in southwestern Alabama early in the 20th century.

"I am a little Alabama girl living on the frontier where the wild animals is plentiful," wrote May Jordan in 1912. During the hunting season her father traveled Washington County buying furs, and May--already 23--accompanied him on two of these trips, cooking meals, helping out with the business, and recording their experiences.

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Overview

This rare find--a journal of a young backwoods woman--provides a unique picture of rural life in southwestern Alabama early in the 20th century.

"I am a little Alabama girl living on the frontier where the wild animals is plentiful," wrote May Jordan in 1912. During the hunting season her father traveled Washington County buying furs, and May--already 23--accompanied him on two of these trips, cooking meals, helping out with the business, and recording their experiences.

May's diary of these trips from December 1912 to March 1914 describes the routine of the fur trade and provides a vivid portrait of wilderness travel and social customs. Through May's eyes, readers can experience the sights and sounds of pine forests and swamps, the difficulty of wading through waist-deep mud, and the neighborliness of the people living in this isolated area. May also shares both the solace of religious faith and her love of laughter as reflected in the jokes she records.

Elisa Moore Baldwin provides an introduction that traces Jordan family history and describes economic, social, and political conditions during the period. Baldwin also includes annotations based on court records, census rolls, and other primary sources and photographs of many of the characters in May's narrative to provide a vivid picture of the times. Because few first-person accounts exist of the life of poor whites, this diary will be invaluable to students of southern and women's history; no comparable work exists for this part of Alabama during this era. May's journal takes us to another world and teaches us about the lively human spirit in the face of hardship and loneliness.
 

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"We Southerners talk endlessly about a place, a specific spot on earth; valued, loved, remembered, or even criticized (as long as we are doing the criticizing). May Jordan offers us a gift of just such a place--Washington County, Alabama--a wild frontier when May described its flora and fauna, its religion, economy, women, folkways, roads, and neighborliness during the first years of the 20th century. This is one of the best sources for the lives of ordinary people in turn-of-the-century Alabama. "
—Wayne Flynt, Auburn University

"May Jordan's diary, skillfully edited by Elisa Baldwin, should be of interest to the general public as well as historians. There are many diaries of upper-class southern women but few of rural southern women who engage in the fur trade. The diary provides a picture of rural life rarely seen."
—Mary Martha Thomas, Jacksonville State University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780817353377
  • Publisher: University of Alabama Press
  • Publication date: 1/7/2007
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 276
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Elisa Moore Baldwin is Associate Librarian and Archivist at the University of South Alabama Archives.

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