Archive for the ‘National Diary Archive’ Category

Beginning Diary #81

May 27, 2020

This is a photo of my diary collection.  My own diaries take up three and a half shelves on the left.    Had I written continuously with no breaks, this collection would be enormous.  The first one I saved was 1964.  I recently began diary #81. When I wrote my first diary I never expected it to be a lifelong passion. Never thought about that at all.

Not shown here are years of letters written to and from all members of the family.  I also keep or have kept gardening journals, trip journals, dream journals, beekeeping record books, movie record books, reading record books, and quote books.  Obviously I am fond of writing things down.  An archivist by nature.

On the right are real diaries written by other people plus published diaries (those deemed “acceptable” to print), books written about journal writing, and a stash of blank books to use in the future.  I study the art of keeping diaries, the illegitimate side of written literature.

I have collected fewer than 25 handwritten diaries.  Some are presents from my family purchased off Ebay.    Even diaries written by non-famous common ordinary people are expensive to buy.  Some of the diaries were written by my mother and great-grandmother.  A very few were donations.

My favorite one was a gift from a friend, picked up at a local auction. It is written by a button collector, but oh there is so much more in that one. She was a character and described her honest feelings about people and events, even when she did not exactly appear saintly.

I write as openly and honestly as I can about people, my feelings, events in my life, my beliefs, animals, books, movies, gardening, my bookstore, nature, phenomenon, and strange synchronicities. Generally, I do not write about politics or world events, unless they touch me personally.  Since 2016 that changed and I have poured my passionate anger into my journals.

I have continued to teach occasional journal writing workshops. If anyone is interested in joining me in the creation of an archive, contact me at The Eclectic Reader at 970-223-4019.




Is there still interest in a National Diary Archive?

January 13, 2014

Just wondering if there are people out there  who would like to help start this archive?  Particularly someone living near Fort Collins, Colorado.  We need to get the ball rolling, I won’t be around forever.  Donations of diaries and dollars would be helpful.  For now, my garage could be used for long term storage.  I may have space within my bookstore IF it ever reopens.  Please contact me at if you are interested.

The Name’s the Thing

August 14, 2011

I have been asked recently about the name of the diary archive.  Since it does not officially exist I can still change the name.

There is disagreement and confusion over whether ” journal” or “diary” is more accurate or inclusive.  I like to call my books “journals” as they are not merely records of daily activities, but this archive would be for all forms of self-recording, from journals to diaries to travel logs to letters.  We might include taped diaries – say those on cassette or reel to reel tapes.   I have quite a bit of all these various forms from my own family…going back over 100 years.

One of my readers keeps transposing letters – diary to dairy.  I admit I do the same.  Still, I think a “diary” archive sounds best.  I am loathe to name it for my unsupportive city.  Besides, to think we might some day have more than one archive is too much to hope for.

An alternative name is the “Anam Cara Diary Archive.”  (Pronounced Ah num car uh.) I stole this idea from a John O’ Donohue  interview.  He wrote a book by this title.  In Gaelic your “anam cara” is your soul friend, someone to whom you confess.  This sounds to me like the perfect name for a diary archive, yet who knows Gaelic?

A while back I thought I read that a non-profit could not be called “national.”  That may not be true.

In any case, the archive really has no name yet, but I strongly support having “diary archive” in the title.  I am open to all suggestions and will settle on a name when it becomes a non-profit.










What You Can Do to Support a National Diary Archive

April 6, 2011

“What can those of us near you in heart but not geographically do to help?”

One of my readers asked this question and I will try to answer it, based on where the archive is now in its formation progress.

First of all, tell your friends about it, especially those who keep diaries.    You never know what connections might be made. If you teach journal writing, inform your students that there may soon be an archive.  If you keep an on-line diary you could ” blog” about the archive.  Everyone who keeps a journal should think about what will eventually become of them.

Assuming you are a diarist, stipulate in your will that you would like your diaries/journals to be donated to an archive upon your death and include at what point they may be open to the public.   If you wish to protect friends and family who are still living from reading what you truly felt about them, then consider stating how many years the diaries should remain closed.  You might allow staff of the archive to prepare them by transcribing them or digitizing.   You may want them to be available only to those visiting the actual location of the archive and for research purposes.   When an archive is opened in the United States, you could specify that archive in your will.

If you keep a diary/journal, give some thought to organizing and preserving it.  (See my post on that subject: “Now Where Did I Put That?”)  At the very least, put your name in each volume and where it was written.  If possible, create an index for each volume, each year, and the sum total of your work.   This will also make it easier for you to go back and re-read, which is an important benefit of this genre… an opportunity for self-insight and depth.

For all who would like to see a national diary archive I would recommend collecting diaries.  It is an expensive hobby so you might think of asking for “handwritten diaries” as presents, as I did.    Becoming the caretaker and  conservationist of someone else’s work gives you a sense of the importance of your own writing.   It might also show you how to improve your own writing.

If you begin your own collection of handwritten diaries you could transcribe them and put them online, or allow an archive to put them online.  The actual diaries could be kept by you and donated upon your death.

If you live near this archive of the future (Fort Collins, Colorado?) you are more than welcome to volunteer your time.

And, if none of the above works for you, you could always donate money.  So, keep watching our progress.

Progress on National Diary Archive

April 2, 2011

No blogs for some time and not even a single entry in my private journal!  Life has grabbed me by the throat and not let go since my last post.  But there is progress to report:

After my first rejection by the Fort Collins Public Library, I decided to try again.  I was attempting to reserve a room at the library for a free in-depth journal workshop followed by a presentation on the National Diary Archive.  I was told that only non-profit organizations or programs supporting the general purpose of the library could use the rooms.  It seemed to me that journal writing and a diary archive fit that description.  (The archive has not yet become a legal non-profit, although that is the intention.)

On my second try I gently complained that the last two lectures I attended at the library appeared to be by private citizens making a profit on their event.   One was a talk by a local author.  A local bookstore was clearly making money selling her books at a table in the back.  The second lecture was about blogging.  The blogger would not answer my question, instead she handed me her business card and said she was available for consulting for a fee.

I walked a fine line in presenting my case.    I could feel that I was close to stepping on toes but the initial resistance at the front desk gave way and I made it to the next level, and from there, on to the top administrator, who actually was interested, even excited, by the idea of an archive.

So, on April 10th I will be giving my first presentation in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Although my city is proud of being consistently named one of the top ten cities in America, I remember the days when it would not suffer a coffee shop to live. The attitude was that a coffee house was a place akin to an opium den.  We’ve come a long way, baby, as now there’s a coffee house or petit drive-through dispensary on every corner…and for other things as well.

Since 1983, Fort Collins has killed 14 used or new bookstores, including mine. And although the main newspaper has no interest in a story about the archive, nor the higher quality “local news” paper which specializes in human interest stories, I still have a modicum of hope that this idea might someday thrive here.   Perfect climate, low threat of natural disaster, easy access, and situated in the heart of the country.

Truly, I haven’t tapped but the surface of the possibilities here.  The support may need to be on the national level but the team for the non-profit needs to be local.  Already I have found someone who has taught journal writing for many years.  I am searching for others wishing to get involved.

The Catch-22 of Setting Up an Archive

February 15, 2011

Ok.  Here it comes, a whine.  In my pursuit of the goal of setting up a national diary archive these stumbling blocks have emerged:

First of all, there  is the total disinterest of the two local newspapers in publicizing the idea of this project.   Apparently they do not recognize any value in such an archive.  Do you suppose they archive all the blatherings of their pitiful press?  What exactly is the repugnance for this form of writing?  With funding, I can envision this archive growing into a magnificent jewel-in-the-crown of this city at the middle of the country, already touted as one of the best places to live in America.

Is their lack of enthusiasm merely the backlash from their intuition that the printed word is dying…that their own jobs are disappearing into the (I like this word!) viral world?

I, too, understand that the handwritten private journal is becoming extinct.  Which is precisely why we must preserve the last of this species.

Now here is the catch-22:  To create such an archive you must first conjure up interest before you are entitled to financial or social support.  No interest=no non-profit organization.   On the other hand, I am told that unless I establish it as a non-profit there will be no interest.  You need a few courageous  souls who will be the  board of directors and who love to write all of  that gobbledygook and the tedious reports that are required (so that you don’t have to) to prove you are a viable entity.

The rules for setting up a non-profit give me the same sense of dread as going to the dentist.  Perhaps a lawyer…

Pursuing the line of materializing some support, I called the library last week to set up a room for a free journal writing workshop and presentation on creating the diary archive.  Guess what?  You cannot schedule a room unless you are  a non-profit organization!

I distinctly remember two events I attended recently at the library.  One was a free chat by a local  author.  In the back of the room a local bookstore was selling her books like hotcakes.  Wasn’t there a profit in there somewhere?  The second event was a lecture on how to start a blog (the journal writing extinction committee).  The presenter would not answer my question at the end.  Instead, she handed me a business card.  This is also a non-profit?

I am sitting back on my haunches trying to figure out strategy.  I am not a political princess.  I am not a rah-rah fund raiser.  I am not young and pretty. I am Boxer, the workhorse, from Animal Farm.  Hmm.  So how do I do this?

I haven’t given up.  I haven’t quit.  I can find another room to rent for a lecture.   I can pay for advertising.  I can hire a kid one third my age to teach me more about how to drive a blog.  This is just a flesh wound.

All y’all out there can send your moral and financial support. And ideas.

Oh…and I have one last complaint.  It’s about the weather.  I called the weatherclown this morning and he said it was going to be a sunny,  50s day.  Trickster.  It is 39 and totally overcast.   Feels like snow.  My sister-who-is-always-right says the weather forecasters are always right.   Have I ever told you about my sister?



The Eclectic World of the Diary

May 2, 2010


                               THE ECLECTIC WORLD OF THE DIARY   

I think it should be obvious that there are as many different types of diaries as there are people who write them.  They are, above all, artistic expressions of the self.  If not in the type of diary, at least in the style, they are as unique as the individual who put pen to paper.  Reading diaries and journals you will come as close as possible to reading someone else’s mind or to walking a mile in their shoes.

Certainly what is important to me is not the same for you and what is important to me today may not be so a few years from now.  From a confused college student in the turbulent sixties to confusion and upheaval in my sixties, the chapters of my life include everything from living in a utopian community and cult to milking cows, from teaching to single parenthood, from homesteading to bookselling, from disastrous marriages to love.

 A journal is a continuous novel with only one main character guaranteed from beginning to end.   The theme may remain the same but the other characters shift and the plot and setting may flip like frenetic channel surfing in the soap opera of life.   

Unlike a novel, a diary is written in your “true voice,” which is like the clothes you wear around the house when you are sure no one is going to see you.   A journal can be written with an honesty that is too raw, possibly too politically incorrect, and too self-exposing to be disguised as a writer’s work of fiction.   I have often found the truth to be unbelievable.   At times I have written what could not be printed in the paper.

Consider what a National Diary Archive would contain:  history, social culture, adventure and travel description, religious experiences, hobbies, recipes, nature stories, weather phenomenon, garden notes, teen-age angst, motherhood, parenthood (parental angst), relationships, sex, dreams, art sketches, photos and so on.  The perspective could be emotional, psychological, sociological, spiritual, or historical.   

I cannot imagine a more fascinating library.  Even if I don’t want to read what Julia Child ate in every restaurant in France, maybe someone else would.   

Wouldn’t you think it would be more important for the Library of Congress to want to preserve this than everything  ever said on Twitter?

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