The Great Diary Project: Stories from an Extraordinary Collection

The great diary project

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A unique record of our lives

The Great Diary Project rescues, archives and makes publicly available a growing collection of more than 8,500 diaries housed at London’s Bishopsgate Institute. Join the Project’s Polly North and Irving Finkel for a revealing exploration and sharing of this remarkable archive.

These diaries are among our most precious items of heritage. People in all walks of life confide their thoughts and experiences to the written page, and the result is a unique record of what happens to an individual over the years. Innumerable details get recorded in diaries: the weather, movement of birds, the price of food, the regularity of the postal service and a hundred other matters ignored in the history books. Among all these come the excitement of children and holidays and remarks on religion, illness, death, packed into small pages where every entry – for the future historian – is accurately dated. 

Polly North met the project’s founder, Irving Finkel, when researching a BBC Radio 4 programme on almanacs in 2007: a fitting start as almanacs were one of the early ancestors of the diary form.

Irving Finkel studied Assyriology at the University of Birmingham. He is the Assistant Keeper of Ancient Mesopotamian script, languages and cultures at the British Museum. His huge interest in diaries was kindled by the chance purchase of the long run of diaries of Godfrey Williams.

In partnership with The Great Diary Project


Name: The Great Diary Project: Stories from an Extraordinary Collection
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Price: Full Price: £12.00
Senior 60+: £10.00
Student: £8.00
Registered Unemployed: £8.00
Under 18: £8.00
Member Ticket: £12.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546