The collection includes unbound typed transcripts of Drinker’s original diaries, from 1758-1800, though the diaries from 1787-1788 are missing.
The diaries are composed of Elizabeth’s personal reflections of the day-to-day life of a wealthy Quaker woman in colonial Philadelphia. The majority of Elizabeth’s entries detail her daily life, including social calls with other Quaker families and individuals, the births, deaths, and marriages within her community, and attendance at, and descriptions of weekly and monthly Quaker meetings.
While Elizabeth is generally not concerned with larger economic or political events, her entries during the Revolutionary War discuss military movements by both the British and the Americans, specifically General Washington’s military movements. Elizabeth’s description of events during this period include general military events, as well as personal experiences during the war.
In addition to the Revolutionary War, Elizabeth’s entries are often concerned with medical and health matters, both within her own family, and as concerned the city of Philadelphia more generally. Specifically, her entries provide a record of small pox and yellow fever outbreaks during her lifetime, and her personal entries detail the illnesses of herself and her family, as well as treatments administered to herself and her children.