The Great British Diary Project

What should I do with my parents old diaries, now they are no longer with us?
Irving Finkle
The Great Diary Project was launched in 2007 by two diary devotees, Dr Irving Finkel and Dr Polly North. In 2009, the project was fortunate to find its permanent home, at Bishopsgate Institute. The project rescues, archives and makes publicly available a growing collection of more than 15,000 unpublished diaries.

Revealing the extraordinary and the everyday in individual lives, diaries help us explore important issues for the individual and society. However, diaries are at risk. Even lifelong diarists frequently make no provision for the preservation of their writing. The GDP can help. The diaries that are donated to us are freely available to researchers and interested readers at Bishopsgate Institute’s reading room.

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.

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