A pen writing on a page

In times like these, where everyday living suddenly changes, everything feels a little surreal. Part of that is the knowledge that we’re living through history – in the future, these times will be studied. People will want to know how we coped with the methods used to try and protect ourselves and others from the coronavirus.

Our own Local Studies Library & Archive has already thought of the kind of resources that will be valued in the future. What’s more, they have a simple way that you can help.

How can I help?

We’re putting the call out for diaries. Many people are already keeping diaries of their experiences in lockdown; if not, it’s never too late to start! We’re asking you to record what your life is like while in lockdown. Your daily routines – and changes to your routine – your struggles, or even your random thoughts. Anything you can record will be helpful. If you need inspiration, you could always look to famous diarists like Anne Frank or Samuel Pepys – or your favourite fictional diarist, be it Adrian Mole or Sofia Khan.

Don’t worry though! While we may have plenty of budding authors in our literary borough, we aren’t looking for the next great memoir. Just jot down what your life is like right now.

Why diaries?

Timelines and graphs are all very well, but to get a real feel for everyday life in any period you need to know how it affected the people living through it. Through diaries, we can see what people were doing, thinking and feeling from day to day during periods of massive upheaval. In these unusual times, diaries will show what life was actually like for those of us living through coronavirus.

They can also help you! Keeping a diary can be a great way to work through your own thoughts and feelings, as well as keeping a record of what you’re actually doing. If you’re feeling unmoored, looking for structure or even just proud of how you’re coping, keeping a diary can be a great help.

I feel a bit weird about people reading about my life…

Diaries are, by their nature, private. We will treat your diaries with the confidence you’d expect, and with the professionalism you’ll have seen from our Archivist and Assistants if you’ve paid a visit to our Local Studies Library & Archive.

The diaries will not be made available to the public immediately. The diaries will be kept secure in Local Studies and will be closed to the public until all the people mentioned in the diaries have passed away. This means that diaries could be closed to the public for up to 100 years if they mention children.

There is an exception. We can make diaries available to the public earlier if we have signed statements from the diary-creator, and from everyone mentioned in the diary, that they are happy for the diary to be made public.

How can I submit it?

Once the crisis is over and Local Studies is open again, diaries can be dropped in at Local Studies. They can also be posted or emailed to us. Diaries can be in any format: hardcopy or digital.

The postal address is: Local Studies Library & Archive, Old Town Hall, Whittaker Avenue, Richmond, TW9 1TP

The email address is: localstudies@richmond.gov.uk

When you gives us your diary, we’ll need you to sign a deposit form to confirm that they are giving it to us. This is so we can legally show the diary has been deposited in our collections. This means that if you post your diary to us, we’d really appreciate you including your name and address.  We’ll then be able to send you a deposit form.

Are there any restrictions?

We’re only able to keep diaries from the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, so if you aren’t resident in the area then we sadly can’t take yours. You might want to see if you have a Local History Library and/or Archive near you, as they might be interested.

We also need the diaries to be in a format we can read and preserve. Most ways of keeping a diary are going to be just fine. However, we won’t be able to access anything written in special diary apps unless you copy and paste it to us or can share it with us as a document.

We look forward to receiving your diaries.