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William Steinway began his diary on April 20, 1861, eight days after the Civil War had started and three days before his first marriage. He wrote an entry for nearly every day until the diary ends on November 8, 1896, slightly more than three weeks before his death at age 61.

This overview gives details about the diary as a set of physical objects and poses some key questions about the Diary, its origins, and its meaning. We speculate: Why did William write the Diary? How did he record his daily entries? Which subjects and personal observations did he choose to record? Who knew about the diary during William's lifetime and after his death?

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