About the Doyle Diary Project

On July 1, 1942, Margetta Hirsch Doyle (or “Gettie Hirsch”), opened a black composition notebook and wrote the word Journal at the top of the first page. She continued:

Much has happened since I last wrote in a diary. Almost a year has passed—a year in which two noteworthy events have occurred. In regard to my personal life, I have completed my first year of college at William and Mary. I’ve had my ups and downs, but all in all, I’ve been very happy. . . . That all sounds rather insignificant though when you think of the other “noteworthy event.” On Dec. 7 ’41 the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor, Hawaii and on the following day, the United States was at war with Germany, Italy and Japan. War is a horrible thing!

Thus began Doyle’s diary writing practice, a record of her daily life and experiences at William & Mary in the midst of the second World War. All four of her World War II diaries are held by the Special Collections Research Center at Swem Library. As this initial entry indicates, Doyle was moved to write by the conjunction of her first year at William and Mary and the United States’ involvement in World War II following the invasion of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The war shows up in the diaries in many ways–concerns about friends and loved ones in the military services, airplane spotting from campus buildings, even the casual racism of Doyle’s reference to the Japanese in the passage above. Against this backdrop, Doyle studies for exams, attends sorority meetings, and dances at campus parties.

Students in Professor Jennifer Putzi’s first-year writing seminar on “American Women’s Diaries” have transcribed, annotated, and published Margetta Hirsch Doyle’s 1944 diary. The students are : Bushra Bablu, Madeline Brookman, Lela Creamer, Camryn Dickerson, Ainsley Forest, Ishita Gomes, Makaila Huish, Ella Ibrahim, Katie Layton, Jennifer Lin, Katie Marks, Maddy Mendez, Miko Miwa, Schuyler Price, Gwen Sargent, and Kristi Viray.