19th-century tweets offer glimpse into Ohio’s past

An excerpt from Margaret Boyd’s diary, which was given to Alden Library as a gift by Mrs. Wesley Boyd Laurence in 1962. The diary has been scanned into the library’s website.

Margaret Boyd was an 1873 graduate of Ohio University and the first female to graduate from the university. Boyd Hall was named in her honor.

One of Twitter’s 300 million users is an 1873 — yes, you read that right — graduate of Ohio University.

Margaret Boyd’s tweets, posted at @MaggieBoyd1873, are actually transcribed entries from her century-old diary, which was given as a gift to Alden Library by Mrs. Wesley Boyd Lawrence in 1962.

Boyd was OU’s first female graduate, and the university named a building after her in 1907. When the first Boyd Hall was torn down in 1966 to make room for Alden Library, West Green’s Building 10 took the name.

In her diary, Boyd wrote about her senior year at OU and reflected on her social life, academics and future.

Matt Wesley, a senior studying history who works at the library, runs the Twitter account.

“It has been a lot of fun running the account, and it is interesting to see what (Boyd) is writing about and how she is reflecting her views one day at a time,” Wesley said. “What is really interesting is how much she reveals her own emotions in her diary. Most diaries kept by people back then didn’t want to reveal too much, but Maggie is very open in her diary.”

Boyd’s Twitter feed has about 150 followers, and Janet Carleton, the digital initiatives coordinator at Alden, said she hopes to see an increase in Twitter followers.

“There are other diaries out there being tweeted, but I don’t know of any student diaries,” Carleton said. “I think a lot of people will find Maggie’s diary interesting.”

Alden’s Digital Initiatives unit decided to tweet out Boyd’s diary after students came across another student’s diary and brought up the idea of putting entries online.

“Margaret Boyd is an inspiring person, and it is really rare to have this kind of look into that time period,” said Karah Finan, a junior studying journalism who is helping with the project.

Boyd’s diary has been scanned and uploaded to Alden’s website.

Wesley and Finan will also create blog posts to analyze and provide additional context to Boyd’s diary entries, said Doug Partusch, director of development for University Libraries, in an email.

“Maggie has some amazing similarities with OU students today,” Finan said. “She is always studying and is apprehensive about her future but is still excited to get out in the real world. I think that this is something that really rings true with college students today. Maggie’s history can almost be our future.”


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