Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Book of Me - Prompt 6 - Journals and Diaries

This week Julie Goucher of Angler's Rest asked us to respond to the following prompt in The Book of Me, Written by You activity.

The prompt for week 6 is Journals and Diaries

Do you keep a journal or diary?
How far back do they go? What do you record?
Where do you keep them?
Do you always buy the same one or vary them?
Have you inherited any?
Do you intend to pass along your journals or destroy them?
Do you have a favourite?
What do you use to write with – biro, pencil, ink or fountain pen?

This post is relatively easy for me as I blogged on this topic in 2010 in a post titled Recording my life's stories. I am pasting that post below and making additional comments in italics.

Do you keep a diary?

I have a couple of shelves of hard copy diaries in my garage. (now in my study). There are work diaries and personal diaries. I started recording a personal diary around 1980 but missed a couple of years in the eighties.

Around eighteen (21 ) years ago when I first acquired a PDA I decided to move to an online diary as I realised that I could move entries from my PDA into a file on my computer, enhance these with anecdotes and keep them as a diary. In those early days there weren't many pieces of  journalling software around and I don't think blogs were around either. I decided to keep my diary in a simple spreadsheet. Today it is still in that spreadsheet and still using the headings I set up all those years ago
Diary Headings

It's not meant to be pretty just functional.

I started by importing all of my PDA calendar entries into the spreadsheet then I  transcribed all of my diary entries; these triggered memories so I was able to add more detail to the dry dates and facts. Once this was completed I was on a roll. I then added entries for events prior to the days when I kept a diary. I added dates and memories of family events, looked at my dated photographs and recorded the stories these told me. My kids let me look at their old school diaries and calendars; these provided more dates and memory prompts. I have since gone through some (most) of our old credit card bills (and cheque butts) and added details of important purchases.

From time to time family members make a comment about an event in the past and their recollections of it.  I note these on either a scrap of paper or a note in my phone (I mostly use Evernote now) and put them in the diary as time permits recording the source of the comment. I always record my sources, not in a formal academic sense but with labels like Aunt May, 1983 school diary, Letter from Fred to Sue, Current, Photo etc.

When my Dad passed away I discovered where my hoarding genes came from. He had kept every receipt from every purchase he had made. I added these and the memories I have related to these purchases: our first refrigerator, our first radiogram, our first television, holiday dates. One of my dear friends had saved all the postcards I had sent to her, when she knew that her days were numbered she gave these back to me. I have added all of the text to the diary; these entries demonstrate in my words the awe and excitement I had when visiting distant lands. I have since acquired the postcards I have sent to my parents and inlaws and some from other family members, these too have been transcribed.

I cannot remember when all my friends got married or had their 21sts or when their kids were christened but I have vivid memories of some of these events. Whenever I come across someone whose wedding I attended I ask when they got married and add this to the diary. I then record my memories of the event. A friend lent me his collection of newsletters from our Church youth group, I have added details of the outings we had during these years. 

As technology has developed I have added entries from other sources. My daughter's emails from boarding school tell of the fun times she was having. My Facebook wall posts (and tweets) are wonderful sources of my thoughts and activities at a particular point in time. Each month I import my outlook calendar into the diary.

Whenever I travel I record my doings on a spreadsheet on my smartphone as I go and import this into the main document on my return. As I would like to access OurDiary from multiple devices I tried using a Google Drive spreadsheet but it was very sluggish and crashed repeatedly so I am still using Excel. When I plan my travel I start a Google spreadsheet using the same columns as OurDiary, as I travel I add to this and it becomes my travel diary that I can access from multiple devices and offline as well. When I return home I copy the entries into OurDiary.

The diary now sits in a folder called OurDiary (backed up weekly) into which I paste scanned images of tickets, invitations, programs etc. I hyperlink to these from the Excel spreadsheet. I also add hyperlinks to information about people, places and events. I once started to transcribe old letters and didn't get far but now I scan and hyperlink them.

What started out as a simple spreadsheet has now grown into a multimedia resource that spans my lifetime. This diary is much richer than a simple paper based diary as it combines information from a range of sources to give a picture of our family and work life. When I finish digitising my photos I will add selected ones into the folder. Whether it will stay in Excel or migrate to some other product I don't know.

Hopefully some of my descendants will be interested in our family life and gain enjoyment and enlightenment from Our Diary.


Kristin said...

What a wonderful document! I just threw out a bunch of old calendars last year because we are so crowded in this small house with all our stuff. Now I'm so sorry I didn't put the info into the computer first. Maybe my husband still has them in the garage...

Alex Daw said...

Jill, you are truly an inspiration. I don't know how you do it all but I am very impressed. :)

Alex Daw said...

PS And I wanted to say receipts give you so much information don't they. My mother was an Account keeper and I am too and it is very interesting looking back and seeing how much things cost and what you spent your money on. I've tried to explain to my children how even shops have changed over the years. Remember how Harvey Norman used to be all furniture and now its just about all technology/computers with some white goods thrown in on the side. And how there used to be a petrol station on just about every corner

GeniAus said...

Thanks for the comments Kristin and Alex.

I have my husband trained so that he doesn't throw out any scrap of paper without passing it by me! They are great memory joggers.

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

Whew Jill, I didn't see this first time round (my pre-blog days) so I'm glad to have a chance now. I like this idea a lot being a spreadsheet fan, and have many if the resources youmention, at least to some extent. Now can you tell me how to stretch the hours in the day?!

GeniAus said...

Pauleen, I started ths before I got into genealogy big time. It did take many hours to transcribe diary entries etc. but I am pleased that I made the effort.


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