Rena Bestervelt Henshaw Diary
Scope and Contents
In 1955, Margaret Henshaw (1939-2014) was diagnosed with polio, which at the time was a devastating disease which had symptoms of paralysis and could be fatal. Margaret’s mother, Rena Bestervelt Henshaw, decided to detail her daughter’s multiyear battle of polio by creating a diary. When she was first diagnosed in 1955, Margaret spent her first 16 weeks in the hospital, the beginning entries of the diary were normally: The weather of that day, reports from the hospital, thanks, thoughts and prayers from friends and family.
April 12, 1955 was different because this was the day that Margaret was released from the hospital and was allowed to go home. Most entries that followed April 12 were again, the weather of the day, details of how the day went and caring for Margaret.
Margaret Henshaw, (1939-2014) lived in the Kalamazoo area and she worked with the Catholic Family Services for 23 as an accountant and for 13 years she had worked with the Girl Scouts of Kalamazoo. She was married to her first husband, G. Wendel Swain and then to her second husband, Walter Heath.
Found within the diary were newspaper clippings that were around the time of Margaret’s diagnosis and they would have reports of her progress, thanks-you-notes from friends and family. There was also letters written to the Henshaw family by friends, family, and neighbors.
This date book gives the reader the opportunity to see into the life of someone who is caring for someone with Polio and the struggles of the caretaker and the patient in the home.
- Henshaw, Rena Bestervelt, 1903-1988 (Author, Person)
1 Volumes ; The size of the dairy is 5” x 9”
Language of Materials
Found in the diary are notebook size entries which were spaced out in the date book, the size of these entries were: 4” x 7”, 5” x 6” and 5” x 8”. The entries are in good condition, there are no tears or folds however there is discoloration on the pages. The entries were written in pen and they were continuations from the diary when Rena had run out of room and those notes were scattered throughout the diary.
- Rena Bestervelt Henshaw Diary Finding Aid
- Ian Daly
- April 19, 2018
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
Part of the Western Michigan University Archives & Regional History Collections Repository
Charles C. and Lynn L. Zhang Legacy Collections Center
1650 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5307 US