Monday, August 8, 2011

Diamonds In Diaries

Thinking about my mother in yesterday's post reminded me of the many journals she left behind. I had started transcribing them, simply in hopes of speeding up the reading and comprehension processes, owing to the difficulty I have, at times, in deciphering her handwriting. After a while, though, I had given up on the process. There was too much of life here and now demanding my attention.

However, with the arrival of Edna Tully's journal in the mail last month, my interest in transcriptions was reawakened. There is so much left to do to capture the essence of these two women, which inspires me to really get busy the minute I arrive home.

I've had other inspiration prompting me to get back to this business at hand: a fellow genealogy blogger has been slogging through this same process. Joan, of Roots'n'Leaves, has been diligently transcribing the 1850s era journals of her great-great grandfather, James P. McPherson, since at least her 2001 blog entry in which she confesses her sister's apt portrayal of her passion: "Some of her best friends have been dead for 200 years."

Journals and diaries are such a wonderful window on the souls of these departed ancestors. Even in the writing of my husband's relative, Edna Tully, though she completed her diary as a teenager, it projects a slice of her life at the time, endearing her to us--and allowing us to share the pathos of one of the great losses of her life, the death of her grandmother. There is nothing like reading the thoughts of a person, in his or her own words, and letting those written passages paint the picture of who that person is becoming to us, the future generations. I so want to be part of capturing that retro-vision and passing it along so others may know, too.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jacqi,

    Since this post was written back in August, you may already be transcribing your mother's journals. If not, I would encourage you to get started. Through the years, I have transcribed many old records, but have not been fortunate enough to have a diary or journal of a family member. The closest thing I have to that was the church minutes of my great-great-great grandfather's church. He was the clerk of the church and the majority of the minutes were in his handwriting. It was awesome to hold in my hands the same book he had used as clerk during church meetings so many years before.

    The church minutes were on loan to me, so I made a copy of the entire book, transcribed it and posted the minutes online. I also donated a copy of the minutes to the Genealogy Dept. of my local library. By having the minutes posted online, it could help researchers looking for their ancestors who were members of this church and there's the added benefit of a permanent online record.

    It would be a good idea to have a transcribed copy of all of your mother's journals for preservation reasons i.e. fire, bad weather such as a tornado, flood, etc. Hopefully nothing will ever happen to them, but they are irreplaceable. You may even consider posting portions of her journals online as another way to preserve them. Of course, just the portions that don't need to remain private.

    Through the years I've been on a mission to acquire samples of my ancestors handwriting. You might want to make copies of several pages of her journals to put with your records. My great-grandmother had a recipe for Japanese Fruit Cake that I photo copied and included with a family tree notebook I made for members of my family. It surprised me how much it meant to everyone to have a copy of the recipe in her handwriting!

    These are just ideas that came to mind when I read your post. I'll be checking back often as I really like your blog.

    Queen Bee


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