Writing Wednesday: Journals as historical records

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Samuel Pepys (Image credit: Walthamstow Weekender, Public Domain)

Personal journals often give insight or provide firsthand accounts of significant historical events. Examples include soldiers’ diaries recording specifics of battles, and Samuel Pepys’ diary where he wrote about the plague and the Great Fire Of London.

The fact that people took the time to record events in detail is interesting to me. This indicates a specific type of journaling: recording events as opposed to just introspection and self-development.

This type of journaling provides firsthand documentation that otherwise would not have been available in the days before instant media when everyone around the world could know about an event instantaneously. Often an event was known only to the people present, and without this kind of documentation many things might not ever have been known to anyone else.

I wonder if people bother to write about events like this in their journals very much anymore. Now that we are so connected, do people feel the need to record events for the sake of posterity?

According to this article from a few years ago, current digital and online content may not be available in the future. So it’s entirely possible that personal journals could become a main source of historical records for events again in the future!

Do you write about news stories or events you have witnessed in your journal?

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