National Historical Publications & Records Commission

The Whiskey Merchant’s Diary: An Urban Life in the Emerging Midwest by Joseph J. Mersman 

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The Whiskey Merchant's Diary


Independent Scholar Linda A. Fisher

Ohio University Press

Additional information at and

Joseph J. Mersman (1824-1892) was a liquor merchant, a German American immigrant who aspired—successfully—to become a self-made man. Hundreds of the residents of Mersman's hometown in Germany immigrated to Cincinnati in the 1830s, joining many thousands of other German immigrants. In 1847, at the age of twenty-three, Mersman began recording his activities in a bound volume, small enough to fit into his coat pocket. His diary, filled with work and play, eating and drinking, flirting and dancing, provides a unique picture of everyday life, first in Cincinnati and then in St. Louis, the new urban centers of the emerging Midwest. 

Complete in one volume.


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