Which subjects and personal observations did he choose to record?

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Entries for 1861 supported William’s initial focus of the Diary: the wedding, sexual activity (through marginal marks), family trips, performances with the Liederkranz singing society, business trips to the Midwest and New England, and a few comments about the involvement in the Civil War of his brothers Charles and Albert with the New York 5th and 7th Regiments.

As the years passed, William continued to make short diary entries that recorded his increased involvement with the firm and its influence in the world of music and the piano industry; the development of the company town of Steinway; the fluctuations of the U. S. economy; his leadership in the German-American community; and his emergence as a key figure in New York civic life, including his role in the region’s increasingly sophisticated modes of transportation. William’s entries rarely revealed emotional reactions to personal situations, making the exceptions—entries about the loss of a baby or events surrounding the discovery of his first wife’s infidelity—even more poignant: “My poor old mother expresses a great deal of solicitude for me, and I feel just like sinking on her breast and dying in her arms, but master my feelings.” The latter, in 1875 and 1876, are particularly moving as William began plans (out of public view) to arrange their divorce and  Regina’s move to Europe with Alfred, the son he adored and once thought was his own. More commonly, the entries are terse and require further explanation, as the reader will discover. In aid of this, more than 100 volunteers have been researching and writing supplemental annotations on the thousands of people, places, and events described in the Diary. The December 2010 debut of the complete diary transcription by Co-Editor-in-Chief Edwin M. Good represents just the first installment of the Smithsonian’s long-term project to create a fully-annotated online edition. Notes, images, and other contextual material will be added periodically. When complete, more than 30,000 interlinked annotations will allow readers to embark upon self-guided tours within the site, the greater Smithsonian collections, and beyond. Interested parties are invited to join the Diary Project and become a part one of the Smithsonian largest and longest-running volunteer research projects.