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Diary project

The diary collection, built and managed in cooperation with the Dutch Diary Archive Foundation (since 2013), comprises over 600 collections, ranging from a few notebooks to dozens of boxes full of one person’s diaries. What information about everyday life in the recent past do these diaries contain? To answer that question, this project focuses on reading all diaries in the collection and providing them with keywords and a summary.

The formal characteristics of the diaries in this collection are described immediately upon inclusion. For each collection, we therefore know how many documents are involved, what the condition of the material is, and in which period the documents were written. Knowledge of the contents of the collections, however, is very limited, as we lack the time and manpower to read the diaries immediately upon receival.

The number of diaries is growing, awareness of the collection is increasing and with it, so are the requests from researchers for specific topics about which they hope to find something in this collection. The aim of this diary project is to unlock the content of as many diaries as possible. To this end, a group of 10 student assistants, all history students, read the diaries.

The readers provide each collection with appropriate keywords, based on a fixed list, and make a summary of the contents. The forms on which they note these details are read into a (not publicly accessible) database that allows the staff of the library & archives collections department to direct researchers to diaries that may be relevant to their research question. With the experience gained from this project, we can manage a group of volunteers who have signed up for a monthly ‘reading day’.

The project will run from 1 May to 1 November 2023.