The book became a landmark in women’s labor history since it provides scholars with rich insights into the life of a lay American rural healer around 1800. It rests not on the observations of outsiders, but on the words of the woman herself. At first glance, Ballard’s encoded, repetitive, and quotidian diary often appears trivial, but as Ulrich found, “it is in the very dailiness, the exhaustive, repetitious dailiness, that the real power of Martha Ballard’s book lies … For her, living was to be measured in doing. ” By knitting together “ordinary” sources to produce a meaningful, extraordinary socio-cultural narrative, Ulrich shows how a skilled practitioner functioned within the interstices of the private and public spheres. The book, divided into 10 sections, takes the “dailiness” of Ballard’s diary and transforms it into a rich historical source.
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