In the early part of the eighteenth century, in New London, Connecticut, Joshua Hempstead kept a diary. He recorded, on a daily basis, the weather, his business activities, baptisms, notices of marriage intentions, military trainings and wars, divisions of the Commons, court sessions, ship traffic, town meetings, New Light controversies, thanksgivings, fasts, deaths, his travels, celebrations both happy and sad, and all the other large and small events that made up life in that busy seaport. The surviving part of the diary covers forty-seven years, from September of 1711 through early November of 1758.
At times during his long life Hempstead was a shipwright; carpenter; farmer; townsman; trader to Boston, New York, and the West Indies; representative to the General Assembly; justice of the peace; surveyor; writer of wills; and business agent for the Winthrop family. Hempstead’s thorough involvement with the life of the town, and the immediacy of daily entries, make the diary particularly valuable.
Scholars and Connecticut historians have been using The Diary of Joshua Hempstead as a major resource for information about 18th century New London ever since the first edition was published by the New London County Historical Society in 1901.
Quoted from: A Useful Friend: A Companion to Joshua Hempstead’s Diary 1711-1758 by Patricia M. Schaefer