Posts Tagged ‘DIARIES’

Great Diary Project: Part 2

Never under estimate the power of the written word.

Lady Sale’s Diaries: Ask anyone to name some famous diarists and most people can suggest Samuel Pepys and Ann Frank. At the time of writing their diaries, they had no idea they would contribute to the sum of historic knowledge. Nor was their aim to achieve fame. If you think your diary or grandparent’s diary is of little value, read on.

As was the custom then, Lady Sale accompanied her British Army officer husband to Kabul, for the first war between Britain and Afghanistan in the 1840s. Through a series of tactical blunders the British army was all but wiped out. The British Government of the time tried to hush it up. They thought they had succeeded. However, they had not accounted for the indomitable Lady Sale. She had kept a diary of the events and recorded the disastrous, fatal outcomes. The war had claimed the life of her husband, and hundreds of other soldiers. She managed to escape from Afghanistan, with a few other war widows. On her return to Britain, she published her diaries. What is more, The Times newspaper serialised them. The truth was out in the open, much to the chagrin of the British Government. The parents of soldiers finally knew what had befallen their sons. The diary of an upper class ‘nobody’ became a famous testament of an historic event in British history. Her name and the truth, lives on.

 Her diaries are now kept at the British Library. Extracts have been digitised and can be viewed online. Click here on Lady Sale’s Diaries.

Book: ‘A Journal of the Disasters in Afghanistan, 1841-1842’ by LADY SALE

Queen Victoria’s Dairy: Another online diary made available in 2012, by kind permission of Queen Elizabeth II, as part of her Diamond Jubilee celebrations, are some sections of Queen Victoria’s Dairies. Was she amused?
Click on Queen Victoria’s Journals  to peer into the past.

Edith Appleton Diaries: An appeal for a missing diary: Edith Appleton was a WWI nurse. She worked close to the Western Front, nursing wounded soldiers. Edie wrote diaries from 1914 to 1919. Like Vera Brittain, Edie recorded her own Testament of Youth. After the war, Edie moved to the Isle of Wight where she lived at Buddlebrook House, Brighstone, until she died in 1958. Edie’s great nephew, Dick Robinson, inherited her diaries. He published them and set up a website for Edith Appleton about his great aunt. The BBC published extracts from Edie’s diaries.  This website permits people to still be able to listen to the BBC broadcasts.

But the diaries are incomplete. Dick is visiting the Isle of Wight in July, and is appealing for help in tracking down the missing extracts. There is no guarantee they still exist or that they are on the Isle of Wight. He can be contacted by phone: 01386-700613 (Gloucestershire), or by e-mail: dick@gardencottage.org.uk 
This page on Dick’s website is about his Isle of Wight hunt.

Book: A Nurse at the Front, the Great War Diaries of Sister Edith Appleton. Published in association with the Imperial War Museum (2012).

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Irving Finkel, the Assitant Curator of the Assyrian Gallery at The British Museum, London, England, was on the Isle of Wight recently with Richard Smout, Wight County Archivist. They gave a talk to a community audience, preceeding the launch, soon this month, of  The Great  Diary Project. Their task was to encourage local people to keep, or deposit diaries of their own, or of members of their family who have died. The project is a nationwide one that you too can contribute to and enjoy. These eye witness testimonials survive as beautiful  works of personally written art. Present and future generations will be able to study and gain an insight into the personal,  social and cultural aspects of the day as recorded by the people in that time period. Lived life.

Dr Irving Finkel is the founder of this exciting project and was originally shown, by a dealer of books, a collection of diaries from the years 1879 to 1955. The person who wrote these diaries was Mr Godfrey Williams, who charted his everyday life from before the 1st World War to modern times and to the start of the post war period.

Irving’s forethought saved the diaries so that future generations would be enlightened by the historical gems contained within the writings. Thus The Great Diaries Project was conceived to collect and to hold a treasury of peoples lives within ink and paper. The power of the written diary is the same as that of recordings produced within oral history projects, in as much as that they reveal feelings and insightful moments into the lived life of humanity.



THE NATIONAL ARCHIVE : Holds a vast collection of private, unpublished, resources, and is a wonderful centre of history.

The diaries will be catalogued for the Great Diary Project database and the contents will be made available to all interested readers. Originals will be held for viewing in The Bishopsgate Institute reading room.

The project guarantees that the diaries within the collection will be under permanent archival care. Any donor can stipulate that donated diaries must remain unread and private for a period after accession. All diary donations will be permanent, and the copyright of all contents ceded TBA as future studies and publications will need to quote passages or sections from diaries in the collection.


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