In 1787 Scarlet fever hit Hallowell, the town Martha lived in, and Martha nursed the victims. In her Aug. 7 entry, Martha showed rare sympathy for her patients. This is probably because Ulrich’s interpretation of the diary helps to reveal that in the summer of 1769, three of her own children died from a similar disease. In 1785, The Dollar became the official U.S. currency, as Congress adopted a decimal monetary system. Martha Ballard and her neighbors, as well as the rest of the country, often lacked hard currency to carry on their daily trade. When no money was available, they resorted to credit and barter. Martha Ballard used XX in her record-keeping system. The XX in her left margin meant that a birth fee had been paid. And she kept her records in pounds, shillings, and pence. This shows that she was not paid every time she did her job and that she took the time to record the days she actually did but even with the lack of pay she continued helping the community as well as raising a family.
"About the Diary ." Martha Ballard's Diary Online. DoHistory. 27 Oct. 2008 .