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Article Published April 15, 1999
EAST COAST KIN (Canada)
By: Sandra Devlin, Biography & Archived Articles
How Others View Journals & Diaries
This column winds up the highlights of the replies I received from
readers commenting on the three-part series about journals and diaries.
Learning how others view certain genealogy topics can be an
inspiration to the rest of us. These replies certainly has been
inspiring to me.
It is my hope that this series will encourage many of you to a serious
consideration of how to preserve your diaries and journals plus the
memorabilia of your relatives. Maybe others will write their memoirs. If
these columns encourage any of the foregoing or cause just one person to
start keeping a regular diary, the effort will be well rewarded.
Many thank again to all you replied.
Now here’s what some of you wrote:
Larry Keddy in New Minas, Nova Scotia agreed with me on some of my
ideas for releasing my diaries and disagreed with me on others. He also
offered thoughtful suggestions:
The idea of sealing your journals is
probably wise if you have statements and information that could be
harmful to persons still living. The extent to which it would cause harm
can only be judged by you.
“ However, I don't see the value in using your 100th birthday as a
milestone. Certainly, some appropriate passage of time is in order, but
maybe it should relate to years that would correspond to generations.
For instance you might use a 20, 40 or 60 year period which would
roughly equate to one, two or three generations following your death.
One hundred years is about five generations, and I think that's too long
for your descendants to have to wait to get to know you.”
Dick Bishop in Virginia weighed in with these observations:
“ I read
the article in the Jan. 18 1999 (Gazette) issue with a great deal of
interest. Sometime back, I started journals for myself and my three
daughters - have now expended it to my two granddaughters and grandson.
“I make myself notes throughout the year on a calender type notebook
on first events, first time experiences, major events in the family,
sicknesses, etc. Then, I write up the events maybe once a year, etc. I
also have a section on my interpretation on how the kids and grandkids
are progressing - physical, mental, emotional, and cute sayings, etc.
“As my children got older, I offered to turn the journals over to them
to keep up. However, they have all said that they would prefer for me
to continue with my observations.
“ I do the journals in long hand and enter the same thing on an
individual disk for each of the children. I also have a section on the
computer disk for their home addresses, schools, and jobs they have had
throughout their life to date.
“Some day, maybe they will have enough interest to read what I have
Rosemary Cataldi in Virginia will begin writing a journal after reading
my column, I love it! Rosemary writes:
“ I just read your column, Part
two, in the Global Gazette on diary and journal keeping. Then I went
back and read Part one. Your writing has given me the push I needed to
start my own journal. How will our grandchildren know
about our lives and our thoughts and feelings if we leave no records?
“ I also agree with the need to keep them from perusal for a suitable
period of time. How can we share our feelings if there is the
possibility someone might be hurt by them?
“My mother was one of nine children from a father born in Ireland and
my husband's mother was one of nine children from a father born in
Italy. Half of them are now deceased and the rest are in their 70s and
80s. To keep the family history alive and search out our ancestors,
There are 500 names in it now, a drop in the bucket, but
so much information and so many stories are gone.
“If any of them had kept a diary about their ocean crossings or their
settling in the New World it would be a treasure.
The column hit home for personal cyberpal and genealogy nut, Sharon
Sergeant in Massachusetts:
“I meant to write you a note about your
journal series. Another really good one. I laughed when you said that
you would place such tight restrictions on
the release of yours. I have about 20 years of boxes of my notebook
and I am quite sure that no one could decipher much of it, let alone
pick up the thread of my endless meanderings. I can remember all sorts
of graphic details of my difficulties by reading them, but there is much
that is more emotional and simply not explicitly articulated. And there
are many years where they read like a catalogue of meaningless daily
activities because I wanted to feel like I had done something with the
JoAnne Norton’s note really touched me:
“ Your most recent column
brought tears to my eyes. What I have learned from finding out more
about my New Brunswick roots is their ability to improvise.
“My mother would work on her treadle sewing machine late into the
me clothes from hand-me-downs and no one ever suspected. She emigrated
to New York from Armstrong Corner. But we always got by if money was
difficult by her
ability to find another way. Thank you for your writing.!”
Della Sanders thinks folks would not be so shocked if I released my
diaries earlier than planned:
“ I just read your first part of the
series on diaries and journals. I can see keeping them until your
100th birthday but see no reason to not publish them for another 100
years. What happened even 10 years ago is not important in our society - it
is changing so fast. What I find embarrassing - my daughters don't.
Our world is changing so fast , it does not matter very much what
happened a few years ago.”
Again, all of you who took the time to write, thank you very much.
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