daybookspale(a post from Wisteria & Sunshine from a few months ago)

It came to me, as I was considering how to blossom with both the using and creating of a Daybook (which you may remember I would like to be my “one notebook for everything”) that it might be helpful to figure out exactly what a Daybook means to me. And then before I could even look into my own thoughts about it, or trace my own history with diary and planner-keeping, I remembered the archival box full of such things that I collected in my more acquisitive days…


And they led me on a journey to understand the whys and hows of women keeping Daybooks (which will be my word to encompass diaries/calendars/journals and all of the other papery tools) over the years. Oh! The fascinating things I’ve learned today (and which I share further on). And so, our Considering Daybooks series was born. Today’s installment will focus on the history, in general, of such recordings. Tomorrow’s will shine a light upon my own history with them and the sharing of yours in the comments. On Thursday we shall have a poll and conversation about what we are seeking in our Daybooks right now.


Here is the first article I found, and I took note of this line…

But a planner is more than a tool: It’s also a way of seeing the world. The way it organizes time, what it prioritizes, how you choose to fill it in—all of these things reflect a set of values, and one that has changed since the planner was born.

Then this one, which has several interesting bits, most especially the delightful excerpts from Ben Franklin’s diary. I fret about the same challenge as he did!


I eventually meandered into the more personal, everyday diaries (the sort I have in my own tiny collection) and had to agree with this post that “Diaries can inform, inspire and delight” and that “Diaries are special that way—they are records of daily life.” Click on the second photo to enlarge it if you would like an eyeful of antique, papery pleasure.


And then I found the best article of all “A Pocketful of Days“. Twenty-some pages of “Pocket Diaries and Daily Record-Keeping of Nineteenth-Century New England Women.” It was captivating, and gave me deeper insight into the worlds I’ve glimpsed through the diaries I’ve read and treasured over the years. I have a few very like those described in A Pocketful of Days.


My most precious old diary is this one which belonged to Miss Loanda Lake. I can lose whole hours reading her entries, one for each day of the year of 1876. The main entry on each page is brief record of her day-in rhyme! At the bottom of the pages she records, upside down, the more prosaic jottings. In the side margins are the names of birds (or hens…perhaps those who laid an egg?) for a little while, then tiny decorative swirls, then nothing. The back pages have lists of letters sent and received and careful notes on every payment received and given, and her family history.


As usual, when I dipped into her diary, I was first charmed and then drawn into caring about her. Listen to today’s entry…

It seems rather cold

But sunny and fair

The wind brisk & bold

With a rush & a tare

Had a mission to do

What I cannot tell

But it blew & it blew

And scattered things well-

I washed dirty clothes

And hung them to dry

They had no repose

From wind passing by

Had three pair of sheets

Twelve pieces besides

The looked white as fleets

Beyond oceans tides

Painted my cricket white

It looks really neat

And pleases my sight

Although it looks cheap

Piled 400 sticks

Pine wood in my shed

Feel some in a mix

And am going to bed-

400 sticks! Loanda Lake deserves a whole post to herself, or a series. I’ve discovered so much more about her today. What I am thinking of at this moment, however, is what someone in the future might make of me if they found my Daybooks….should that enter into my ponderings (even ever so lightly)? How much of the poetry of life and the prose do I want mine to contain?

Please share your own thoughts on this today and in the days to come, and in the meantime, I will leave you with a few pages from the little magazineI created almost twenty years ago, with some scans of Miss Lake’s diary pages….


loandalakethreeP.S. August update…I was sad to discover that the link to the “Brief History of Time Management” no longer works. It was such an interesting post and is where the “small portion of attention” in my post’s title came from. It was something Ben Franklin wrote, I believe, but I can’t find a trace of it anyplace online now…