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Formerly published by

Article Published April 15, 1999

Sandra Devlin 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 written!
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. “Thanks again.”
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 journals 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 time.”
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 night making 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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