Famous Historical Diaries
Famous Historical Diaries
Diaries have provided historians and people an insight into the past. They have been used by many famous individuals to document what is happening to them throughout history as well as what was happening to their country at the time as well. Numerous diaries have been published and there are several that have hit a historical status and have remained as best sellers on literary lists throughout the world.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl
One of the most famous diaries is that of Anne Frank. Anne Frank depicted her life in hiding during World War II through her personal diary “Kitty.” The diary described life with her family and four friends in Amsterdam during German occupation. As she and her family were Jewish, they were forced to hide in a hidden apartment. The diary for which she is famous was given to her on her thirteenth birthday. The diary chronicles the life of her and her family from June 12, 1942 to August 1, 1944. The book was originally published by her father, Otto Frank, who returned to Amsterdam and found the book. The original title was The Backhouse: Diary Notes from 12 June 1942-1 August 1944. The book would later be published as The Diary of a Young Girl. The book has been translated from Dutch into several languages and has also been made into films, television movies, theatrical productions and an opera. Anne Frank accurately described every detail of what it was like to live under Nazi occupation in hiding.
Lewis Carroll, or Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, was a famous author. He is best known for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. He is known for his unique word play, logic and unique fantasy tales. Dodgson kept several diaries, but there is some controversy over several diaries that have disappeared. These diaries are for the years 1858-1862. It appears that these pages of the diaries have been deliberately removed, but by whom nobody knows. Many scholars believe that these pages were most likely removed by the family interest of hiding personal information that they did not want shared. This period of time seems to be between the ages of 22 and 32. One explanation is that during this time period, Dodgson had proposed marriage to the 11-year-old Alice Liddell. This Alice is believed to be the heroin in his famous children’s story.
The diary of Samuel Pepys is one of the most important diaries in history. The diary is a personal record of his life and the writing indicates that it was never intended for publication. It is also apparent that Pepys took great steps to preserve the diary, as he had the pages bound into six volumes and then catalogued in his personal library. The diary itself was written in shorthand. This made it a very unique record to transcribed, as it had to be translated from a key that Pepys provided in his personal library. The first to transcribe the diary into English was Reverend John Smith, whom did not know of the key to the shorthand. Pepys recorded ten years of his life. He was very honest in his accounts and documented everything from the women he courted to his friends and business dealings. The diary also provides an accurate account of life in London in the 1660’s. It was during this time that the city saw many catastrophes including the Great Plague of London in 1665 and the Great London Fire of 1666. The diary itself provides historians great insight to how people lived during the 1600s and how these events shaped the face of such a large and populous city.
Virginia Woolf was another famous diarist. She wrote numerous autobiographical accounts of her life. There have also been several personal diaries and letters published that give us a look at the life Virginia Woolf led. Woolf was an English novelist and writer who grew up in Kensington, England. She lived in a family comprised of children from three different marriages, as her mother and father were both widowed. She married writer Leonard Woolf in 1912 and often referred to him as the “penniless Jew.” Virginia Woolf’s diary was highly personal and documented each day. She documented days and feelings between her and her husband, who was also a writer. She began keeping a diary around the age of 15, around January of 1897. Her family often called her the “unofficial family historian.” Her diaries provide us with a view of the thought processes of such a provocative writer. You see how she feels and how she develops her characters. You also see that she was severely depressed later in her life and she provides great insight into how depression can affect life.
Harry S. Truman
Most of the presidents kept diaries throughout their life and their term as president. We know this as we have several diaries from presidents including George Washington, John Quincy Adams and Thomas Jefferson. However, one unique diary belonged to President Harry S. Truman.
Truman would write notes and comments throughout the day. These may not have been official diary entries, but they are very poignant and show us how the president felt. According to Mr. President: The First Publication from the Personal Diaries, Private Letters, Papers and Revealing Interviews of Harry S. Truman, Thirty-Second President of the United States of America we are able to gain great insight on his day-to-day life, which is something that many Americans ponder about when they think of how a president lives. Truman would write notes about each appointment he had during the day. After visiting with a public figure, he jotted down a comment stating, “This man not only wants to run the country, but the universe and the entire Milky Way.” Another note after an appointment read, “Baloney Peddler.” After having dinner at the Mayflower Hotel for Jackson Day Dinner, he wrote, “An enthusiastic meeting. My first political speech as President. Rang the bell, I believe.”
These quirky comments provide us with an insight on the daily life of a president, but they also show that they too are human and like to be recognized for their achievements as well. Truman was also known to write memorandum notes on a daily basis. He said that they helped to clarify his thinking and serve as notes for his studies and decision.
Education through Diaries
These unique accounts of historical diaries are yet another reason to keep a diary or journal. Although you may not be a famous writer, nor do you aspire to be one, but your journal may be an insight into life later on in history. Pepys’ diary is an excellent example. He played no major role in history and was a simple businessman in the 1600s, yet his diary documented numerous events that changed London forever. His diary was one of the first diaries ever discovered. Truman’s personal notes and comments give us a glimpse at the life of a president.
Making Your Own History
You may never aspire to be a famous writer, political figure or famous person of the sort, but it is possible that your personal journal could provide an insight on life one hundred years from now. Many people are not aware that historians seek the personal journals of individuals from the past. Journals provide us with a view of what a person felt and saw during this time period.
provides the everyday person with the ability to conveniently document their life one day at a time. You can easily schedule your entries and download them for safekeeping forever.
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