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RG3080.AM:  Donald B. Hartwell, 1888-

Diary (on microfilm):  1936-1940

Inavale, Webster County, Neb.:  Farmer

Size:  1 reel of microfilm containing 1 diary; 1 box


Adison and Estella Hartwell moved from Ohio to Inavale, Nebraska, in 1885. Adison ran the local cheese factory from 1886-1903, then became a farmer on land just west of Inavale. The Hartwells had two children: Donald B., born in 1888, and Dorothea, born in 1898. Donald became a farmer, and after his father died in 1934, tended the family’s land through the Depression and drought years of the 1930s. He and his wife, Verna, lost their farm through a sheriff’s sale in July of 1940. After that, he found employment working on local roads.


This diary of Donald B. Hartwell is a five-year diary, covering the years 1936 to 1940. There is an entry for each day, with five entries for a particular date on a single page, and also notes on family background, reminiscences of Donald’s early life, and observations of society, technology and current events. It includes some photographs and other graphics, mostly showing scenes in and around Inavale and family members. Daily entries include notes on weather conditions, what the author did that day, and commentary on the conditions of the times.

The information in this diary relates mostly to rural Nebraska life during the Depression and drought conditions of the 1930s. It also gives good background on Hartwell himself, and on Inavale, Nebraska. Hartwell is an articulate, perceptive and sometimes philosophical witty writer, but his accounts are understandably tinged with pessimism and despair. As a whole, this diary chronicles the gradual and inevitable loss of Hartwell’s farm and his views on life, politics, and economics through this time.

The diary was loaned for microfilming in July of 1988. NSHS staff made copies from the diary microfilm and created typed transcriptions. These copies and transcriptions are located in Box 1.


Reel 1

Diary, 1936-1940

Box 1


  1. Diary entries: January 1, 1936 – June 16, 1937

  2. Diary entries: June 17, 1937 – December 2, 1938

  3. Diary entries: December 4, 1938 – December 31, 1939

  4. Second manuscript, diary entries: January 1, 1936 – December 29, 1936

  5. Second manuscript, diary entries: January 1 – December 30, 1937

  6. Second manuscript, diary entries, January 1 – December 28, 1938

  7. Second manuscript, diary entries, January 1939 – December 26, 1939

  8. Second manuscript, diary entries, January 1 – December 31, 1940

  9. Corrected diary entries, September 8, 1937 – September 7, 1938

  10. Corrected diary entries, September 7, 1938 – September 30, 1939

  11. Corrected diary entries, January 1 – December 31, 1936

  12. Corrected manuscript, January 1 – December 31, 1937

  13. Corrected manuscript, January 1 – December 31, 1940

  14. Maps and information of Webster County

  15. Newspaper clippings, diary photocopies

  16. Diary photocopies, January and February, 1936

  17. Diary photocopies, March and April, 1936

  18. Diary photocopies, May and June, 1936

  19. Diary photocopies, July and September, 1936

  20. Diary photocopies, October-December, 1936



Farm life — Nebraska

Hartwell, Donald B., 1888-

Hartwell family

Inavale (Neb.) — History

Webster County (Neb.) — History


Encoded TMM   04-22-2010