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Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Dear Diary by Rose Anderson

The RB4U theme for August includes diaries, so that's my topic this month. I hope you enjoy. 

When we're teens, it typically goes like this: We know who we are and it isn't about to change. I recall my 8th grade year when I knew everything I could possibly know. I was on top of the heap. The cream of the grade school. Then high school happened. Then college happened. Then marriage, then motherhood, then an empty nest happened. And in between I worked and played and had my fair share of highs and lows. While I was living each stage of my life, I never figured my attitudes, opinions or dreams, for that matter, would change much. I never gave much thought to stages back then. 

Many of my friends kept diaries when we were kids. I had one too. It was white fake-leather vinyl with hippie-type flowers and had a small lock fitted with a generic flat brass key. I was never one to journal (as wordy as I am as an adult, that might be hard to imagine.  *smile* ), so the diary had two entries, and two torn out pages, and then promptly fell to disuse and disinterest. But if I had kept a diary at each stage when I was busy being this or that, I would have seen a profound change in me over time.  

Some say journaling acts as a cathartic release. I have a friend who swears by it for just that reason.  Diary/journals are that gauge--a reminder of mistakes made you'd rather not make again and a way to asses to be sure you never do. You can talk out issues troubling you and doing so might just reveal answers to problems. The subconscious mind often intuits solutions long before the conscious mind does, even if the words describing how are a long way off. It's a way to hold on to high points-- those memorable moments and accomplishments you're proud of. Others say keeping a diary/journal acts as a way to harness one's creativity. As a writer I say, just write a novel! 

Many diarists write things down for posterity's sake. Others, by no design of their own, end up having their words define a time in a zeitgeist view of their world. I would imagine they never dreamt their diary would be read by others. Anne Frank's tragic diary comes to mind, as does the diary of Samuel Pepys. Of the former, without her secret diary we wouldn't be aware of the strength in this young girl's dreams as she hoped for a better future, despite the terrible fanaticism that would brutally take those dreams away. (A lesson to the world if ever there was). Of the latter we wouldn't have the clear picture of the scope and breadth of the Great Fire of London in 1666. His words leave a candid description as clear as that from any intentional chronicler.

As a person who does historical research for kicks, I can tell you there's nothing so satisfying as first-hand accounts and citeable references.  If you're like me, then I have something for you!

11 Historical Diaries & Journals Found Online  
  1.  500 historical diaries online
  2.  Wisconsin Historical Society - Historic Diaries 
    (type in Diary in the search bar)
  3. 19th Century Travel Diaries 
  4. Diary of Alice Cunningham Fletcher & More
    An Edwardian England diary
  5.  Diary from Dixie 
  6. Diary of 18th century midwife Martha Ballard
  7.  50 digitized Iowa Civil War diaries & more 
  8. Nebraska State Historical Society
    3000 homestead letters
  9. The American Memory Project of the Library of Congress
    African American Odyssey
  10. 100 links to diaries, journals & recollections from the Overland Trail
  11.  The diaries from two communities during the Reconstruction
    The period after the Civil War
♥♥♥ Authors and readers, do you enjoy original sources such as diaries and journals? Feel free to share in comments those portions that captured your fancy. Have you any diary/journal links to share? Please do! ♥♥♥
Stop by my blog for interesting topics all month long

About Rose
Rose is a multi-published, award-winning author and dilettante who loves great conversation and discovering interesting things to weave into stories. She lives with her family and small menagerie amid oak groves and prairie in the rolling glacial hills of the upper Midwest.

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Tina Donahue said...

Great links, Rose - thanks!

Cara Marsi said...

Interesting, Rose. I tried to keep a diary when I was a teen but I didn't keep it up. I did, however, write poetry to express my feelings.

Melissa Keir said...

Great resources. I never thought I would have something to say or that anyone would want to read what I had to say (outside of my sisters who wanted to use it to tattle on me). But yes, I would like to read through another person's eyes about life... after all, isn't that what reading a romance is like?? I end up in another person's happily ever after, amazed at how it all worked out.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Rose,

Thanks for the resources. I keep a journal, have for many years. I find it very helpful.

Judy Baker said...

Love the list of resources you gave us. I do enjoy researching for my stories and the list will help. I once had a diary when young, but it didn't last long - wonder where it went? Or who read it?? Hmmm.

stanalei said...

I think diaries and journals are fascinating. I do keep a journal, I'm just not as consistent as I should be with it.

vicki batman said...

Hi, Rose! I'm like you about the diary of my younger days. I think I was more interested in the lock and holding secrets aspect; yet, I never did write any down. lol I do journal and I find it a good source of emotion for my writing. Haven't had much time to do so lately, though.

jean hart stewart said...

What a great list..thanks for giving us those resources...

Jane Leopold Quinn said...

I'm sure a lot of us had the usual little diary when we were kids. I sometimes wish I had kept some memories when I became an adult, but I didn't. Too busy living it, I guess. ;-)

Paris said...

You've found my weakness! I like nothing better than to visit dusty antique and book stores looking for old diaries and journals:)

bluemistlizzi said...

thank you SOOOooo much for the links! Have saved them all, and dragged myself out of the letters in the last reference. grrr. back to writing. made over 750 words in the past hour, BEFORE I found the links.. back to it.

Gemma Juliana said...

What a treasure trove of links, thanks, Rose. I'm especially fascinated with the one about 19th century travel.

I, too, love dusty antique and book stores, Paris, and go into a time warp while in them.

As a girl I wanted to keep a diary, but my mother broke the lock off my brother's diary and berated him about its contents, so I never trusted my thoughts to paper. Now, I just talk to myself.

Renee Reynolds said...

Terrific post! Tweeted :)

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