Marty Leistikow presents March 4 lecture on diaries

BEMIDJI, Minn. – When Marty Leistikow transcribed her great-grandfather’s diary of the year 1900, she learned about the minutia of his daily life. But she also learned that he was insecure about his marriage. He was 48, his wife just 21. Toward the end of the diary, his wife went to visit her parents, and he wondered whether she would return. The diary ended there.

“Clearly, I was hooked,” said Leistikow, who will present “Women’s Diaries: A Literary Window into History” at 10 a.m. Tuesday, March 4 at the Bemidji State University Center for Research and Innovation (CRI), an off-campus facility located at 3801 Bemidji Avenue North.

Leistikow’s lecture is the second in the spring Tuesday morning lecture series sponsored by the Academy of Lifelong Learning (ALL) and coordinated by the CRI. ALL lectures are free and open to the public.

Leistikow was so intrigued by her great-grandparents’ lives that she tracked down relatives who told her the outcome, which she will share with the audience during her lecture. She will also share the voices of women over the past two centuries as they dealt with amazing challenges, such as Amelia S. Knight who gave birth to her eighth child while traveling along the Oregon Trail in a wagon train.

Fueling Leistikow’s interest in diaries is the “Diary of Anne Frank,” which she read at age 10, and an anthology of women’s diaries called “One Day at a Time,” which her book club chose to read 25 years ago.

“The women featured in that anthology were so amazing that I went on to find other books of diaries, and there have been many,” she said. “Most give insight into the times in which they were written, usually in ways that the writers could not have imagined.”

A retired high school English teacher, Leistikow lives near Park Rapids, Minn. and supervises student teachers for BSU.

ALL offers humanities-based programs that are made possible in part with private donations and BSU support. More information about ALL is available by contacting the Center for Research and Innovation at (218) 755-4900 or by visiting its Web site,

2008 Spring Academy of Lifelong Learning Lecture Series Schedule

  • March 4: Marty Leistikow, “Women’s Diaries: A Literary Window into History.”
  • March 11: Curt Rice, “Languages, Culture.”
  • March 18: Alexander Nadesan, “Southeast Asian and Indonesian Culture and Religion.”
  • March 25: M. James Bensen, “The Impact of Emerging Technology on Our Lifestyle.”
  • April 1: Russ Lee, “Assisting the Assisters After a Disaster.”
  • April 8: Janet Rith-Najerian, “Dragonflies.”
  • April 15: Fulton Gallagher, “Opera – For Real!”