Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Tuesday's Treasure: A Journal

Quite a few years ago my father handed me a book, stuffed with pictures and newspaper clippings, telling me it was his father's journal and I should be the one to have it.

We had a seven hour drive ahead of us and I read the entire journal on the trip. I was fascinated, to say the least. I knew very little about my grandfather. Sure, we visited with one another on holidays and had occasional dinners out. I knew he loved the Buffalo Bills, that he had worked at Merrill Lynch and that he loved cars. His journal was a revelation.

The bound diary was dated 1923, but my grandfather relabeled each page, beginning with 1896, the year of his birth. He allowed three pages for each year. He went back to fill in some information from the years before the diary was published. 

Each year he would make brief entries about trips, people he met, accomplishments and often about what car he was driving! There were many pictures, newspaper articles, programs and letters stuffed into the pages that filled in the gaps. 

Ten years ago I created an electronic version of the diary and had it printed in an effort to preserve the information and to share it with my family. My sweet hubby, my son and I scanned over 400 documents and transcribed each entry, embedding the pictures and articles in the text.

I am so thrilled to have had an opportunity to know more about my grandfather; I am saddened that I didn't know this before his death. What great conversations we could have had!

In some ways, our Blogs are like journals. They mark important events in our lives. I kept a diary through middle school and high school, but have not 'journaled' since then. What about you? Do you keep a journal?


  1. That is a really neat thing to have - some insight into a family member's life and who they were...

    I guess my blog is a journal - I think of it more as a way to talk about horse stuff with other people so my hubby doesn't get too bored! lol I guess I never bothered with a "real" journal since I don't have kids and have no one to pass it on to. We did have scrapbooks for our school years and my parents put in all kinds of stuff - report cards, sports awards, etc. My Dad would update each school year's pages with our friends, hobbies and cute comments and notes on each of us kids. My Dad died when I was a teenager, so those notes in his handwriting are special to us...

  2. That is truly a treasure. I have something similar that belonged to my father.

  3. I love what you did with your grandfathers journal! The Buffalo Bills? Where did he live?
    My online Journal has been posted every day for over 3 years and involves much more than family. A long time ago I kept a handwritten version (for about 10 years)...that one was much more personal and would make quite a novel.

  4. What a great gift!

    Thanks for Pippin's post on the lunging! Hilarious, as always. Do you have a way to go back and read your older posts? I would love to do that!

  5. How quickly you have forgotten the journaling in STL (SCHOOLS THAT LEARN)!!!

    Seriously, it is so great that you have preserved an important part of your family's history. I've been scanning photos from my parents' childhoods, "courting" days, early years of marriage, and my brother & my childhoods. It is a huge job; however, one that I believe is worth the effort so many folks can take advantage of digital technology. Fortunately, I do not have journal entries to transcribe!!


  6. That is very neat.

  7. That is amazing, what a wonderful thing to have and to be able to read. I used to be very good at keeping a journal. For a while I found it hard to write and then I started blogging. When I started blogging, even though I don't blog about deep personal feelings, it kind of filled the void. However when I do look back at my journals, I see the value in being able to look back and see where I was, what I was doing and also, who I was. So I think it's an important thing to do for ourselves and also for those we love, look at how you've gotten to know your Grandfather through this. Great post! :) New Years resolution from me- back to journaling!

  8. No not a journal..I have started them..but never seem to follow through for very often. I did keep a diary during high school..it was way too revealing..I finally ripped out all the pages and burned it.
    Your Grandfathers journal..what a gift! And how lovely to get it all scanned and into book form.
    Recently I was given my husband Grandmothers Diary and a book that she pasted important things in. It is to be my winter project..I am going to start a private family blog and then it can be published from there in Live Writer:)


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