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Unearthing History: Elisabeth Hartsell's

Hidden Great Depression Diaries Go Viral

on Social Media and Inspire a

Thriving Podcast

"My Grandma's Diaries" invites the world to step back in time and witness the true story of Elisabeth Hartsell, a thirteen year old girl who began chronicling her life in 1931 amidst the hardships of the Great Depression. Elisabeth lived her entire life in Missouri and Arkansas and her leather-bound diaries, filled with stories of struggle, resilience, and hope, remained hidden for decades and are now captivating a global audience through social media (Facebook, Instagram and TikTok) and a highly successful podcast.


The Story:


In the early 1930s, as the Great Depression cast its shadow over the nation, Elisabeth Hartsell's family, once well-off, found themselves facing adversity. Her father, who had been gainfully employed, lost his job, thrusting the seven-person Hartsell family into dire circumstances. Their journey of survival led them to an unlikely home—a tent on Elisabeth's Grandfather's tenant farm in Arkansas. There were times when Elisabeth did not have enough food to eat, proper shoes to wear, or warm clothes to shield against the elements. Elisabeth endured 524 days sleeping in that tent. She writes that the weather got as cold as 2 degrees during the winter.


A turning point came in 1933 when Elisabeth's father was hired by the Civil Works Administration (CWA), part of President Roosevelt's New Deal initiatives. This temporary job as a train time-keeper provided a glimmer of hope during dark times. The New Deal's impact on Elisabeth's family and countless others was profound, helping them regain their footing and dignity.


Elisabeth Hartsell's diaries, now revealed for the first time, offer a rare and intimate look into a life marked by resilience, perseverance, and the enduring human spirit. Elisabeth, who spent her entire life in the heartland of Arkansas and Missouri, chronicled not only the trials and tribulations of her family but also the stories of a generation living through one of the most challenging periods in American history.


The Project: 


"My Grandma's Diaries" is the brainchild of long-time friends Mark McKinney and Liz Duren. Mark, Elisabeth's grandson, serves as the project's video editor, while Liz lends her voice to bring Elisabeth's words to life. Their collaboration has yielded a heartwarming project that has rapidly gained momentum, captivating the hearts and minds of over 350,000 followers on social media. The accompanying podcast, with its emotional readings, historical context, and personal reflections, has struck a chord with listeners worldwide. Liz and Mark are available for interviews upon request.


McKinney says, "These diaries had never been read until now. Elisabeth's children didn't know most of this information. They didn't know that their mother picked cotton and strawberries and lived on a tenant farm in Arkansas. We are uncovering amazing stories that give us a glimpse into life in the middle of the Great Depression."


The Future:


As "My Grandma's Diaries" continues to flourish, the ultimate goal is to transform these diaries into a four-season series on Netflix or another streaming platform. Plans are also underway to expand offerings, including merchandise, special events, and exclusive content, to further engage with the growing community of followers.


Join the journey into the past with "My Grandma's Diaries" by following us on social media and tuning in to our podcast. We are on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and everywhere you find your podcasts. Just search “My Grandma’s Diaries”.


Mark McKinney or Liz Duren




Our press packet is available upon request. It includes interviews with Liz and Mark, b-roll and photos of the diaries and a few other extras. Also, Liz and Mark are available for interviews.

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