Did you keep a diary as a teenager? Does the thought of reading it now make you want to cringe with embarrassment or would you jump at the change to gain some perspective on the course of your life so far?
Dr. Irving Finkel of London, a self-proclaimed diary rescuer, has it made it his personal mission to preserve, archive and exhibit as many long lost diaries as possible. By day, Finkel works at the British Museum, but in his off hours, he’s slowly amassing a museum of his own with his Great Diary Project and receives regular donations of families’ old journals. His reasoning, he says, is that:
Diaries are among our most precious items of heritage. People in all walks of life have confided and often still confide their thoughts and experiences to the written page, and the result is a unique record of what happens to an individual over months, or even years, as seen through their eyes. No other kind of document offers such a wealth of information about daily life and the ups and downs of human existence. The Project’s idea is to collect as many diaries as possible from now on for long-term preservation. In the future these diaries will be a precious indication of what life, in our own time, was really like…All human life, in fact, is there, packed into small pages where every entry – for the future historian – is accurately dated.