Maria Churchill wrote faithfully, nearly daily, in her diary throughout the three years represented, 1845 to 1848. Literate, intelligent, and capable, Maria retained an avid interest in the intellectual and social world beyond her small Vermont town. She was an avid reader of a wide array of books, periodicals, and newspapers, and was active in her community, attending lectures, meetings, and gala events, and discussing current events. Churchill's diary provides an interesting insight into a woman's view of the bonds of affection between husband and wife and parent and child. She considered herself lucky to have a husband who showed such strong interest in his wife and child, and the pleasure she took in assisting her husband in running their store is evident throughout. As important in Churchill's emotional life as her husband and child, however, were her connections with other women, friends as well as family members, and these bonds seem to have increased during her marriage, rather than decreased, maintained through constant visits and letters.
The diary covers a period of high drama in Churchill's life, beginning less than a year after her marriage, and including the birth of her daughter, Elizabeth, the protracted illness and death of her husband, and her entry into self-sustaining widowhood. She provides only the outlines of her daily activities -- few entries in themselves are of sufficient length to reveal much about her thoughts and motives -- however her habit of writing daily provides a density of coverage that makes the diary valuable for understanding the basic lineaments of her emotional and intellectual life, as well as her daily routine. Before the birth of her daughter, Churchill seems to have been careful to record her reading, her visits with friends and neighbors, her reactions to major political events (elections, the declaration of the War with Mexico, slavery), and the presence of lectures and classes in town. Beyond this, her adjustments to marriage, birth, illness, and death and her growing relationships with husband, child, and the community of women creates a complex view of the life of a middle class woman living in small town Vermont early in the Victorian era.
For the most part, diary entries become much briefer and more similar in content after about December, 1846 -- three months after her husband's death. Maria was occupied with running her business and caring for Elizabeth, and may have had somewhat less time for socializing outside of the singing school and church.
The diary is only selectively indexed, with no notice of the numerous entries that concern daily domestic tasks or social activities (visits, etc.).