Gransnet forums

Ask a gran

Diaries and love letters.

(72 Posts)
kircubbin2000 Sat 10-Aug-19 12:54:25

For years I kept a diary but recently clearing out I threw them out as I wouldn't like anyone to read them. I have kept some old photos, not of hubby, but unnamed.
Would you leave personal things for family to clear or perhaps you are not a hoarder
My mum destroyed everything and it's really annoying not to have any pics or history of grandparents..

MissAdventure Sat 10-Aug-19 12:59:11

I'm in the process of clearing out a lot of things that I wouldn't want others to come across!

Esther1 Sat 10-Aug-19 13:04:17

I absolutely understand about the diaries. Does anyone else find it wrong when diaries and letters are published for all to read after somebody has died. Often in a book form. Even after somebody has been dead for decades I still think it’s just appalling to invade private correspondence and thoughts. For this reason I am very very careful about what I keep - and it’s a shame.

Minniemoo Sat 10-Aug-19 13:11:03

My sister had kept everything from her teen years until her mid-20s and throughout her (short lived) first marriage.

Photos, diaries, bus tickets, photos, biscuit wrapper eaten with 'the ONE' (until the next one.

Anyway, it was all in a suitcase which she kept with her during her first marriage.

Husband number 2 was jealous and possessive so the case went to Mum's to be hidden.

Totally forgotten about until we were clearing our parent's house out and this old suitcase was unearthed.

My sister, immediately recognising it, grabbed it and legged down to the skip with it and proceeded to cover it with other unwanted items.

Sad to think she was still unable to show this to her husband, even though they've been married for 30 odd years and are heading for 70

stella1949 Sat 10-Aug-19 13:13:36

I wouldn't want my diaries read by anyone. I've written personal thoughts about my children which could be taken in a hurtful way if they read them after I'd died.

But photos - I don't know how anyone could think it OK to destroy them. They are priceless. I'm the keeper of all our old family photos and they have great meaning to everyone in the family - I don't think that makes me a hoarder . I'll give them to my daughter when the time comes.

kircubbin2000 Sat 10-Aug-19 13:15:09

My son has hidden his albums of first wife in my house. I'm sure he has forgotten them.

Gaunt47 Sat 10-Aug-19 13:24:45

I've kept a diary for 50 years, still do. But last winter I decided to get rid of the early years and spent many happy evenings re-reading and then burning the pages. This winter I'll do the same. No I certainly would not want other people reading what I have I have written!
I'm reluctant to destroy my photos, but it could be that it will be the same exercise - have a last look and then burn them.

EllanVannin Sat 10-Aug-19 13:25:26

I haven't got either but I've got hundreds of photographs of various holidays including some with "antics" that would be best destroyed I suppose.

Such as a wet t-shirt look ( no bra ) when a hired boat from Gozo hit a sudden storm on the way back to the mainland and waves smacked against the boat and drenched my friend and myself. The worst outcome of that was when the chap from the fish and chip shop that we called into on our way back to the apartment, recognised me !!

He must have been looking through binoculars at the boat bobbing along like a cork and me trying to remain upright.

Not exactly a decent description of " nanna's holiday " if my GGC saw it.

Daisymae Sat 10-Aug-19 13:57:12

In a way they are a letter to anyone in the future reading them, unless you destroy them yourself. I do keep a diary but always have the future reader over my shoulder.

Calendargirl Sat 10-Aug-19 14:23:49

I have kept a diary (5 year ones) since I was 10, so 56 years. Lots of what I have written appears boring and humdrum, but not all!
Don’t know what to do with them. No one else looks at them, but often they are useful to settle a dispute re dates or events. My son asked me what I planned to do with them, I said I would donate them to the Bodleian!

Family photos are ok as long as the people in them can be identified. Often really old ones mean nothing to anyone nowadays, unrecognisable ancestors.

A former boyfriend gave me a lovely card for my 16th birthday. I threw it away but often wished I had kept it. He certainly wasn’t the ‘one’, but oh it was a pretty card!

Auntieflo Sat 10-Aug-19 14:27:26

My mum kept diaries, and when I read one of them, I had to destroy it, along with all the others, (for family peace of mind)
I keep some diaries, but they are really just notes of appointments etc, then destroy them after a few years.
I use the calendar on my IPad to write things I want to remember, nice things.
But, I still have a bundle of letters my DH wrote to me when we were courting and engaged, sweet! Those I am keeping.

Septimia Sat 10-Aug-19 14:37:11

My diaries were always very factual - where I'd been, what films I went to see - so nothing personal or embarrassing.

My mum kept letters that my dad had written her when they were courting, and maybe after they were married, because it was during the war and they were working shifts and doing firewatching etc (dad was in a reserved occupation). Mum asked me to destroy them without reading them. I was sorely tempted to see what they had been up to that she didn't want me to know about shock, but I dutifully burnt them when she died.

ninathenana Sat 10-Aug-19 14:45:26

I have a couple of diaries from my teen years. They are very boring smile
DH has never been a letter writer. I do have a few letters from a very good friend written 50ish years ago that are very personal. Thinking about it now, they are best destroyed after all this time.

Jane10 Sat 10-Aug-19 14:46:23

I love reading old published diaries. They can be such an insight into past lives. The mass observation diaries of WW2 are fascinating reading. Nothing dramatic just everyday stuff.

TwiceAsNice Sat 10-Aug-19 14:55:03

I started writing a diary in a notebook when my grandchildren were born . Nothing personal about me on them but about what we did with the children , special happenings, milestones, funny things they said, how birthdays and Christmases were celebrated. My daughters are aware of them and have read odd bits already . I hope they will keep them when I’m gone if only as a history for the girls who are now 10.

It has become a tradition for their mother to buy me new notebooks every Christmas to last the year and she gets them from photobox so each book has photos on the cover relating to that year.

BradfordLass72 Sun 11-Aug-19 04:02:55

It's so good to read so many people keep diaries but I wish they could be kept; what difference does it make what people think when you're gone. Think what gems we'd have lost if Pepys (or indeed any past person who kept records) felt the same way. We'd have no insight into history - which is invaluable.

As I used to collect oral histories, I know the ordinary can seems fascinating to future generations.

I wrote a factionalised version of my life just after the war and up to 1953. The facts are preserved honestly but the conversations, whilst keeping to character, have been embroidered a little.

For instance at school, we did Music & Movement and the BBC presenter would ask us to be trees or horses or even bunnies.
There was a boy in my class who objected to this and whilst I can't remember his actual words, I have written what he may have said.
'A doan't mind bein' a tree or an 'orse but I'll be jiggered if I'll be a damn bunny rabbit'.

My diaries, started 40+ years ago reflecting every aspect of my life, backwards and forwards across the world.

They will be left to my son but the National Library of New Zealand has already said they would be interested to have them if he ever wants to pass them (or copies) on.

The British Library may like UK diaries.

You've created history, don't let it go to ashes.

Liz46 Sun 11-Aug-19 05:59:12

My father was a fighter pilot throughout WW2, including The Battle of Britain. He died in an accident after the war and after many years my mother remarried. Her second husband was jealous and wanted her to get rid of any old letters etc.

I discovered when I was clearing her house that she had hidden them in years of old Christmas cards! One letter I discovered was sent to my gran and was written by my father on the day that war broke out.

He told his mother not to worry, he had had the proper training but future fighter pilots would not be lucky enough to get this amount of training.

absent Sun 11-Aug-19 06:14:14

After my mother died I was responsible for clearing her house. My father travelled on business all over the world and she kept all his letters. I read them all; each one beginning "My Own Dear Margaret" and ending "Yours Ever Henry". Well, there was one exception when he had be called up for military training in World War II and was deeply distracted by the noise, crowd and general hoo-hah and signed himself, "Yours faithfully H. J. D*****. I thought that was probably true – he was hers faithfully and I am sure she thought the same. After I read the letters I shredded them because they were private.

My mother had also kept all the letters that I had written to her. I didn't bother reading them but the fact that she had kept them brought tears to my eyes. I shredded those too. No one else's business.

MawB Sun 11-Aug-19 08:20:31

Not exactly love letters (as far as I know) but on Friday my sister in law was staying and we were going through yet more papers when we came across a very old bundle of letters, the sort where there is no separate envelope but the paper is folded to leave a space for the address and sealed with sealing wax. Incredibly fragile and the writing was very hard to decipher so we only managed to read a few but what a treat is in store!
One was written by a lady who was one of DH’s forebears and describes the horrific attack on the family house near Wexford by United Irish Loyalists and her escape from the burning property with three small children. Her husband was shot in the shoulder but somehow they managed to get a boat to S Wales where she had sent the letter from.
The date?

Bathsheba Sun 11-Aug-19 08:36:27

Gosh Maw what an astonishing find! The British Museum would be very interested in that little bundle of letters I'm sure!

sodapop Sun 11-Aug-19 08:44:28

That's fascinating Maw so interesting to read about the every day lives of people in years gone by.
I think its a shame we don't keep more of these letters or diaries. My mother in law was in service and had all sorts of interesting anecdotes but we didn't write anything down. It's all lost now she has died.

Jane10 Sun 11-Aug-19 08:47:59

Wow Maw. Fascinating stuff. Of interest to all sorts of historians. What do you plan to do with them?

MawB Sun 11-Aug-19 08:52:35

My sister in law and I plan to attempt to decipher them as far as possible and then transcribe them annotating with family tree details. After that, I don’t really know!

seacliff Sun 11-Aug-19 08:58:12

Maw how fantastic, and amazing they have survived for such a long time. Maybe you could write a work of fiction based on those letters.

seacliff Sun 11-Aug-19 09:03:36

When My Dad died, we found his A4 diaries dating back about 25 years. They were just every day events, nothing private, beautifully written in his lovely handwriting.

Unexpectedly, they were such a comfort to me in the first couple of years, as I missed him so much. It was really comforting to read the mundane every day events of our lives together. It was as if he was still with me a bit.