Diaries are among our most fascinating and precious items of heritage – they provide a unique record of daily life and the ups and downs of human existence.
But diaries are at risk. Even lifelong diarists frequently make no provision for the preservation of their writing – they’re often thrown away, abandoned in the rubbish – lives discarded. Doomed to be forgotten.
Irving Finkel of the British Museum has created The Great Diary Project, an organisation with the aim of collecting as many diaries as possible for long-term preservation. In the future they will provide a precious indication of what life, in our own time, was really like: a living, breathing account of history. The Project’s aim is to amass 20,00 diaries by the year 2020. So far, they have over 6,000 stored in the Bishopsgate Institute in London. But they need your help!
Irving Finkel will be joined by award-winning writer Alexander Masters, author of A Life discarded: 148 diaries found in a Skip to talk about the importance of diaries and the richness of the lives they contain. Are people still writing them? Have they been rendered superfluous by modern technology? And what can we do to stop people throwing them away?!
Other authors, artists and performers from around the site will contribute with diary stories – and readings – of their own to share. And we urge you to bring your own diaries along – of grandparents, or ancestors (maybe even your own teenage years) to add to the growing collection.