April 25, 2005

1940s diarists were ordinary people

It's so great to read comments that point you to something that otherwise I never would have known.  In one of my briefest posts, 1918 blogger, Tom Cunliffe of the Bright Field weblog points to his post,  Our Hidden Lives , all about a movement in Britain during the 1940's called Mass Observation. 

Ordinary people were encouraged to keep diaries over a period of years which were then collected, along with oral recordings as a sort of social archive of their times which has been preserved by the University of Sussex.

"Unputdownable" is how Tom describes a book - Our Hidden Lives - put together of several of the diarists.  Why?  These were just ordinary people who dealt with the aftermath of World War II in ordinary ways, by coping with the stuff of life -joy and sickness, financial worries and things particular to their time -food rationing and unemployment.  But it's how people deal with the stuff of life that's so engrossing.

People never tire of hearing about the details of other lives - the smallest things, what they wore, what they ate, what they rode, what they saw and experienced, what they watched and read and were influenced by, what they thought, what they learned.

Imagine how your great grandchildren will appreciate the ordinary details of your life.  That's the gift of personal legacy archives can keep on giving long after you are just a memory.  Tom thinks that blogs can serve the same purpose of chronicling ordinary lives that those 1940s diaries did.
I do too.  But I suggest that once a year, or more often, a detailed chronicle of a single day, however boring that might seem, will prove to be endlessly interesting a few decades or more into the future.  We all are living extraordinary lives.

Posted by Jill Fallon at April 25, 2005 2:34 AM | Permalink

Thanks for referring to my online journal - I don't think I've ever been quoted so extensively before! I am a regular reader of your excellent journal which provides me with so much food for thought, week by week. Tom

Posted by: Tom C at April 25, 2005 1:50 AM