Girt, Retha & Me by Elsi Vassdal Ellis

Inspired by my grandmother-in-law's life experiences, I have started a series of books examining the lives of farming families and farming practices during her lifetime, drawing upon biographical as well as historical accounts for the series. This first book draws upon the anonymous entries in one of three journals discovered in the Red School House Antiques shop outside Oakland, Maryland. The portion of the 1925 diary featured here paints a picture of the daily small scale local farming life of the 1920s. Three women shared a house, kept a small garden with vegetables and flowers, some of which were taken into Stephens City, Virginia, to sell. They also raised a few animals and shared their farming expertise with neighbors (Girt was an expert in butchering hogs). They lived a self-sustaining life. The photographs are primarily antique shop finds with one download from the Library of Congress photographs on line. They date between 1915 and 1935.

Artist Bio

Elsi Vassdal Ellis creates books in Paradise: a well equipped studio in the Pacific Northwest. Since 1983 she has produced 117 editions (offset, letterpress, digital, stenciled, punched and cloth) as EVE Press as well 115 one-of-a-kinds. She exhibits nationally and internationally. Her work is permanently housed in many public collections including the National Museum of Women in the Arts, New York City Public Library, Ruth and Marvin Sackner Archive of Concrete and Visual Poetry, Grabhorn Collection in the San Francisco Public Library, and Arts of the Book Collection in the Yale University Library. Western Washington University has been her professional home since 1977 where she holds the rank of full professor. She teaches digital pre-press, offset and letterpress printing, graphic design history, and book arts. She has also taught Honors seminar courses combining book history topics with the making of historical models.