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Did you keep a secret diary when you were a child? Remember those ones with the lock and key? While journaling and keeping diaries have grown up alongside us, their origins date back much further.
It seems that we’ve always wanted to record our lives as long as handwriting has existed. The earliest diaries were mainly kept as public records. In fact, the present-day diary as we know it dates back to the 15th Century in Italy. Diaries were mostly used for accounting at this time however, there was a shift of focus eventually to recording public life or reflecting on a more personal aspect.
One of the most famous examples of a diary is from Leonardo da Vinci. He filled over 5,000 pages of journals with his inventions, observations on life and art.
What we consider the truly modern diary - the autobiography - dates back to England. In 1660, Samuel Pepys was the first person to write in a journal describing details of his daily life. He included important historical events such as the Great Fire of 1666 to much more personal events such as fights with his wife.
Since the times of early Christian pilgrims, travellers have been keeping diaries of their journeys. Starting in the first century after Christ during a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, right up until present day online travel blogs or vlogs.
Other travellers who kept diaries are Captain Cook, Lewis and Clark, Charles Darwin and Henry Walden.
Other writers such as Sylvia Plath, Anais Nin, Virginia Wolfe, Tolstoy and Kafka use the diary as part of their creative process. Often their journals were published and very popular giving the reader greater insight into the writing process.
The popularity of war journals increased in the 19th and 20th centuries. Perhaps the most famous being that of Anne Frank. Chronicling her life during WWII, it is a must-read in schools.
Other authors chose to write about WWI and interestingly, Mary Chestnut wrote about the American Civil War.
The 1960s introduced the idea that journaling or keeping a diary is therapeutic. The psychologist, Dr Ira Progoff, offered workshops and courses on what is known as the Intensive Journal Method.
For several years, Dr Progroff utilized what he called a “psychological notebook” with his therapy clients. This journal is a 3-ringed notebook is colour-coded so that different parts of the client’s life could be recorded in the right place. This method of journaling became popular very quickly and has taught more than 250,000 people known as journal consultants.
To reach a wider audience, in 1978, Dr Progoff published 3 books to help people who weren’t his therapy clients or be able to attend a workshopt to create their journal.
If you're interested in learning more about creating a therapy journal, here's a video.
Public schools in the 1980s started using journals in English classes. known as dialogue or response journals, they gave students a way to develop independent thinking skills and for teachers to give feedback. The original intention was to make these journals educati0jonal rather than a form of therapy, teachers found that they revealed more about a student’s life than the student had previously shared. These journals were great was for students to write down upsetting events, thoughts and feelings.
In 1985, after the therapeutic and medical communities began recognizing journals as a non-medicinal, holistic wellness tool, Kathleen Adams, a psychotherapist began teaching journaling worksh9ops to give the general public tools used in journaling to go on a journey of self-discovery, creative expression and to enhance their lives. She also created a ‘Journal Toolbox” to help match a life issue with a specific writing device.
Currently, we have digital diaries including blogs, writing on Facebook or Twitter. It seems our desire to record personal parts of our day is quite acceptable. Originally, the diary or journal was to record secrets and hidden thoughts but now that it’s gone digital, revealing our secrets is quite acceptable.
We think the benefits of writing in a journal are fantastic and having a beautiful journal to write in will make it even more enjoyable.