Discovered Diary Reveals Inner Thoughts of 1950s Widow

"Didn't do anything but watch TV," could easily be mistaken for the tweet of a Gen Z or millennial, but the relatable line actually dates back to a March 28, 1957 diary entry.

Nellie was born in France in 1886, and set sail for Ellis Island in 1893 with her family of eight. According to Ellis Island documents, the family had planned to move to Erie in Colorado, but ended up in Pittsburgh, Kansas.

In 1904, she married Samuel G, with whom she had six children. 14 years later, Samuel was in an automobile collision with a train, leaving him brain damaged and diagnosed as "clinically insane."

Samuel passed away in 1920, leaving Nellie a widow at 32. In order to make ends meet as a single mother, Nellie began selling alcohol during America's prohibition period but was arrested in 1922.

This is not the plot of a Netflix movie, but instead a life discovered by TikToker Kaitlyn Sawyer through thrifted diaries, and subsequent internet searches.

After finding the old diary at her local thrift shop, Sawyer posted the first entry to her account on March 14, gaining over one million views on the clip in the time since. "Didn't do anything but eat all day," reads the first entry. Viewers were instantly hooked.

Through the power of TikTok, Sawyer was able to track down two more of Nellie's diaries from 1935 and 1934, from another thrift shop customer. Now, Sawyer has been able to compare the eras of Nellie's life, 20 years apart.

TikTok viewers rush to request specific dates or people featured in the historic entries. Winnie, a neighbour and friend of Nellie, has become a fan-favorite of the diaries, as the entries document the to-and-fro of their friendship. "Winnie called. Wanted me to come for dinner. I didn't feel like going," reads one page.

"Justice for Winnie! That poor woman," wrote one viewer. "Nellie cancels a lot of dinners but Winnie is still a good friend. Always there," noted another.

The mystery left from using mere diary entries as a peek into someone's life has also left TikTok users hooked, with missing context and reasons for dramatic events. "Had a little set to with Dave. Told him he was a DAMN LIAR," reads one May 1934 entry. "What did Dave lie about??? Don't leave us hanging Nellie," commented one viewer.

One 1957 entry even documents Nellie's ride in a police car, although no reason is given: "Chief just brought me home. Heard a police call. Kinda glad to be home for good. Such a nice family," reads the page

For most however, it's the relatable level of Nellie's seemingly mundane inner thoughts which have struck a chord. "It's so cool how normal she was. She was a person with a personality, just like people today. I feel like I forget that," wrote one TikTok user.

Just two months since the first diary entry was shared, Sawyer's videos have now amassed over 20 million views.

With around 1,095 diary entries currently at the hands of a TikToker with over 300,000 followers, Nellie's life story and thoughts are able to live on with a generation she never even met.

Newsweek has contacted Kaitlyn Sawyer for comment.

Fountain pen on antique letters.
Fountain pen on antique letters and empty sheet. Getty Images. Getty Images