Mabel was born on April 16, 1886 in Oxford, Johnson County, Iowa to James Michael Shirk and Laura Yenter. Mabel was the only girl in a family with five brothers who of whom died within days of each other. Mabel's mother was distraught, so Mabel went to live with her aunt Kate in Evanston, Wyoming. She returned there every summer, and a few times in between. Mabel attended prep school, where she excelled in her studies. She then attended the University of Utah and received her teaching certificate. Following a stormy romance, Mabel married her long-time boyfriend Israel Larkin. The two disagreed on religion, with Mabel a staunch Methodist and Israel a Mormon. But after a time of studying the LDS Church, Mabel decided to be baptized. She was baptized September 24, 1904 and they were married in January 1906 in the Salt Lake Temple. The young couple lived in Ogden, where Mabel had two sons: Paul, born May 7, 1906 and Ivan, born June 7, 1908. In 1910, the family moved to Snowville, Utah where there was free land available. They lived in a large canvas tent, and hauled water from the river for all their needs. On May 28, 1911 Mabel had a baby boy named Herman. The family was very poor, but finally managed to save enough money to install a wood floor in their tent. Mabel taught the Beehive class, and was a school teacher in town as well. On November 22, 1913 she had another son, named Jason. Shortly after, Mabel became very ill with fainting fits and suffered a nervous breakdown. Uncle George W. Larkin, a Patriarch, blessed her that she would overcome her illnesses. Mabel did recover, but it took quite a long time. On October 23, 1915 she had Conrad, a happy little boy. Mabel wished for a baby girl, and on September 28, 1918 got her wish with the birth of Rachel Harriet. Then on June 12, 1920 she had another girl, named Laura, delivered by Israel himself. Two years later Daniel was born on July 3, 1922. Following Daniel's birth, the family decided to move to Willard, Box Elder County, where they older children could attend high school. Paul and Ivan stayed behind for a time to harvest their crops. In their new home, Israel planted sugar beets and set up their old tent for the summer. In the fall they found a house in Pleasant View to stay in for the winter. After farming and making a few business deals, the family was able to move into a nice, large home in Ogden. Israel Jr. was born July 24, 1924. Food was scarce, and Mabel often went without so her children wouldn't go hungry. Her last baby, Larry, was born September 6, 1928 while Ivan was serving a mission to Hawaii. In later years, Mabel had serious heart trouble, as well as other physical ailments. Mabel passed away on March 8, 1949 in the Dee Hospital in Ogden.
The collection consists of 12 handwritten diaries for the years 1918 to early 1941 with many gaps, a biography written by Mabel's daughter-in-law, Montrue Grey Larkin, handwritten shopping lists, and some letters from her children to Montrue, telling their thoughts about their mother. The biography is written from the diaries, collections of stories told by Mabel's friends, and other information that was passed down through her family. It includes the major world events during Mabel's life (Women's suffrage, Prohibition, Depression, Pearl Harbor, etc.), family pedigrees, personal comments, photographs of Mabel, her family and homes, and of many of her friends. The biography is an in-depth look at Mabel's life, as her daughter-in-law tried to really get to know Mabel after she had passed away. Unfortunately, Mabel burned some of her diaries because she said they were too sad and depressing for anyone to read. She and Israel were always tired from working so hard, and were often sick. On one occasion, Mabel hemorrhaged while asleep in bed. No one else was home, and she would have bled to death if a neighbor hadn't come in and rushed her to the hospital. Israel showed how much he loved and adored Mabel when he told of how she passed away, saying she gave two little 'Oh's' and she was gone. And so was the light and purpose of my life.'