Question of the Week: Have you found any diaries from your ancestors? (Sept 2022)

+18 votes

imageHave you found any diaries or journals written by your ancestors?

Tell us with an answer below! You could also answer on Facebook or share the question image with friends and family on social media to get them talking.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.9m points)
edited by Eowyn Walker

61 Answers

+21 votes
Best answer
I have a diary from my paternal grandmother. In one memorable entry she gloats over the lingering, painful death of the man who jilted her practically at the altar because he'd gotten another girl pregnant and a shotgun came into play.
by Carolyn Comings G2G6 Mach 3 (38.2k points)
selected ago by Mags Gaulden
+17 votes
I don't have any diaries.

But there is a Family Bible from my mothers adopted family and 3 of my relatives  have recently written their "Memoirs" So those can be passed down.

One Memoir each from an uncle and an aunt and one from my father - all of whom are now deceased.
by Robynne Lozier G2G Astronaut (1.0m points)
+16 votes
I have a few pages from a diary of my maternal great grandfather, Ezekiel Thomas. These pages relates a trip from east Texas to Fort Worth, TX by train, then by horseback out west of Fort Worth looking for land and then back home. This was part of a lengthy diary that unfortunately someone borrowed from a relative and never returned. I am, however, happy to have at least this story of his trip.
by Virginia Fields G2G6 Pilot (928k points)
+14 votes

Yes ...

''Diary of Joshua Hempstead of New London, Connecticut''; Publishing by the New London County Historical Society, New London, Connecticut; Printed by the Journal of Commerce Co., Providence, Rhode Island: 1901; Collections of the New London County Historical Society, Vol. 1; digitized at ( : accessed 18 September 2022).

The diarist, Joshua Hempstead appears to be my 9g grandfather. This diary provides invaluable genealogical/local history information.

by Rick Peterson G2G6 Pilot (173k points)
+13 votes
I have diaries of my great grandfather and a memoir from 3rd GG
by Phyllis Floyd G2G Crew (590 points)
+19 votes
I have a box that contains every letter that my grandfather received while he was fighting in the South Pacific in WWII. It's interesting to read about everyone's different situations and how the war affected their lives at home.
by John Vaskie G2G6 Mach 5 (51.5k points)
That's so sweet.
I, too, have a box full of letters and recorded tapes from my then-fiance as he was fighting in Vietnam.  I have willed them to our county's historical society.

Thanks Candyce! My youngest daughter will get these after I pass. I guess we should discuss the future of the letters. My winter project plan is to transcribe all of them. Some folks handwriting is worse than my own. laugh

+13 votes

I have a short diary that my grandfather kept during his time in Houston, Texas. It covers the years 1911 to 1916. My grandmother also kept a diary of family events from the 1930s up into the 1960s. I need to create space ages for both of these.

My dad joined the Boy Scouts at age 13 and received a diary in which he wrote a week's worth of events and then stopped.  This short diary gives an insight into my dad's childhood, one that he rarely talked about.

by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.4m points)
+14 votes
I have all the letters between my parents from about 1950 to early 1953.

They married 30 July 1952, but because my dad was doing his National Service and no married quarters were available on the Air Force Base, my mum stayed at her teaching job about 150 miles away and they saw each other when possible.

By the time my mum was 4 months pregnant with my older brother she was not allowed to continue teaching and married quarters had been found, she moved to the base and the letters stopped.
by M Ross G2G6 Pilot (360k points)
+13 votes
I found a childhood diary of my aunts in her possessions that passed to me. In true style it didn’t have that many entries but the few it had were an insight into the teenage aunt I never knew. Very mundane, what time she went to bed and housework duties and a few friends mentioned. But I still like the glympse of her.

I also have lots of letters she saved including one’s from me as a child or my dad talking about what we were upto. Those I really treasure.
by L Greer G2G6 Mach 1 (13.0k points)
+14 votes

I have a travel diary of my paternal grandmother Abbie from 1955 that I've been slowly transcribing.  She went on a tour of Europe with a group of other educators as part of updating her teaching certificate.  It's been interesting to see what observations she chooses to make in this tiny book where she's dashing out entries sometimes without any punctuation. In the UK she comments on farming methods, industries, architecture and the NHS, and meets up with her mother's cousin (who I have yet to locate in the family tree).

My maternal grandmother Lucy (along with grandpa Emory) kept several diaries over the years, but my mother & her sister decided to destroy them upon her death out of respect for her privacy.  All except for one, which covered the time when they were adopted.  Mom transcribed a part of that diary describing their honeymoon roadtrip from British Columbia to California - in 1921!  There were no freeways then, and the US Highway system was just beginning to be built, so a great deal of that trip was spent maintaining and repairing their roadster.  (Unfortunately the original diary has been lost)

by Nancy Freeman G2G6 Mach 1 (11.0k points)
+13 votes
I have my paternal grandmother's diaries from 1925 to the last entry made by my grandfather noting her death in 1953.

A few months later he added a note of my birth.
by Nancy Woodward G2G2 (3.0k points)
+11 votes
I have some reprints of family diaries but I particularly like is the compilation that my grandfather did of the daily action reports of the field artillery battalion that he commanded in Sicily and France during World War II.  You can see what the unit did very day.

P.S.  I also have all of his letters home to my grandmother.  He was in charge of censoring his own letters so there was very little editing that he did.
by Roger Stong G2G6 Pilot (614k points)
+11 votes
My great grandfather by adoption died in his early 30s from TB He was a plate layer on the railway. He was also a keen gardener and bird watcher. A diary presumed to be his was found recently when my Aunt was moving into sheltered accommodation. The entries include how far he had cycled to work , which birds he had spotted and where and when to cut back his chrysanthemum plants  His own birthday was marked but not those of his wife nor children.
by Anon Sharkey G2G6 Mach 5 (52.3k points)
+13 votes
I have my grandmother's diary from when she was a young woman.  

She wrote that she and my grandfather left their wedding reception through a window.  I love the story, because I can't imagine the woman I knew doing that (what would people say!).
by Paige Kolze G2G6 Mach 3 (30.8k points)
+11 votes
I have a diary that my great-great-aunt Margaret kept for a few months while she was in college. I also have a few family Bibles, a couple of which contain some family information.
by Stephen Sanders G2G6 (9.7k points)
+9 votes
Although I don't have a Diary, I did come across a journal my Mother started. It was primarily to process the passing of my Father.
ago by Marty Franke G2G6 Pilot (414k points)
+13 votes
My grandmother left a journal.  There are many entries of "I washed my hair."  I figure it's a code for something.  She also wrote daily notes to herself in a secret code.  My mother doesn't even know how to break the code.  My grandmother grew up in an institution, so she learned to keep secrets.
ago by Elizabeth x G2G6 Mach 3 (32.6k points)
+11 votes
Yes, I have an amazing war diary from my grand-uncle Laurence Crotty who fought and was killed in WW1.

I also have a notebook from my great-grandfather who recorded some family dates as well as historical events, and it is fascinating to look at it!!

Another cousin in Australia also wrote up a diary and family history which enabled that branch of the family to make contact with mine, and confirm a lot of early details of ancestors!
ago by Fionnuala O'Connor G2G3 (3.2k points)
+11 votes
On line at JSTOR I found  a scholarly paper on the diary of 18th century George Erion the rag man. George's wife Christina was a daughter of "old Philip Grimm" (as George called him), my ancestor. George spent a lot of time complaining about his unruly teenagers. He'd write them out of his will and then occasionally reinstate then. How much money could a rag man have had?
ago by Jane Peppler G2G6 Mach 2 (27.1k points)

This made me chuckle! wink

+11 votes

I have the journals of my great-grandmother, started in rural Iowa in 1927, and continuing daily until just before her death in 1955. I am working on transcribing and publishing them (with annotations) in installments in an online newsletter: I also have many letters from my great-aunt, who taught school in Tehran before the fall of the shah, and in Thailand.

ago by Linda Hoopes G2G Crew (530 points)

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