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Finding Diaries - Research Guide

The following subject guide should assist you in finding diaries in the Penn Library collections, published and unpublished personal writings at other libraries and archives, and books about diaries and personal writings as a genre.

I. Using Franklin to Find Diaries

Franklin, the Penn Library Catalog, is a useful resource for finding diaries, bibliographies of diaries and other personal narratives, and works about diaries as a genre and historical resource.

Genre: Books about diaries and diary writing will be under the subject diaries with various subheadings.

Diaries--History and criticism

Person: When looking for diaries by a specific person, watch for the subject subdivision diaries under the person's name as a subject.

Plath, Sylvia--Diaries
Mann, Thomas, 1875-1955 --Diaries.

Watch for the subject subdivision diaries under country names, languages, nationalities, as well as groups of people.

French--South Africa--Diaries

American diaries
English diaries--Women authors--History and criticism
German diaries--19th century
Japanese diaries--1185-1600--History and criticism

Girls--United States--Diaries
Women--United States--Diaries
Afro-American Women--Diaries
Mormon women--United States--Diaries

Authors, French--20th century--Diaries
Art historians--Germany--Diaries
Poets, Irish--Diaries

Historical Events: Use the subdivision personal narratives under individual wars or events.

Sino-Japanese Conflict, 1937-1945--Personal narratives, Japanese
World War, 1939-1945--Personal narratives, French
Vietnamese Conflict, 1961-1975--Personal narratives

II. Other Library Catalogs

To search beyond the holdings listed in Franklin, try:

RLIN/Eureka Bibliographic File - Research Libraries Group Catalog.
Union Catalog of the holdings of many large research libraries, primarily in the United States. Try subject and author searches to find diaries and other writings held at libraries beyond Penn. Interlibrary loan requests may be initiated through RLIN.

Another large union catalog that includes the holdings of many university, college, and public libraries. Many Philadelphia-area libraries are included in WorldCat. Interlibrary loan request may be initiated through WorldCat

III. Discussion and Critical Analysis of Diaries

Johnson, Alexandra. Leaving a Trace: on Keeping a Journal: the Art of Transforming a Life into Stories. Boston: Little, Brown, c2001.
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: PN4390 .J55 2001]

Marginal Voices, Marginal Forms: Diaries in European Literature and History. Edited by Rachael Langford and Russell West. Amsterdam ; Atlanta, GA.: Rodopi, 1999.
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: PN4390 .M37 1999]

Mallon, Thomas. A Book of One's Own: People and Their Diaries. New York: Ticknor & Fields, 1984.
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: PN4390 .M34 1984]

Rosenblatt, Paul C. Bitter, Bitter Tears: Nineteenth- Century Diarists and Twentieth-Century Grief Theories. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, c1983.
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: BF575.G7 R67 1983]

Shapiro, Robert Moses. Holocaust Chronicles: Individualizing the Holocaust through Diaries and Other Contemporaneous Personal Accounts. Hoboken, NJ : Ktav, c1999.
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: D804.18 .H67 1999]

IV. Bibliographies of Diaires

Addis, Patricia K. Through a Woman's I: an Annotated Bibliography of American Women's Autobiographical Writings, 1946-1976. Patricia K. Addis. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1983.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: CT3260 .A32 1983]

American Diaries of World War II. Edited and with introductions by Donald Vining. New York, NY: Pepys Press, c1982.
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: D811.A2 A47 1982]

Arksey, Laura. American Diaries: an Annotated Bibliography of Published American Diaries and Journals. Detroit, Mich.: Gale Research, c1983-1986. 2 v.
Coverage of diaries from 1492-1980. Useful indexes. Updates Matthews bibliography (see below).
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: CT214 .A74 1983]

Batts, John Stuart. British Manuscript Diaries of the Nineteenth Century: an Annotated Listing. Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1976.
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: Z6611.B6 B38 1976]

Bitton, Davis. Guide to Mormon Diaries and Autobiographies. Provo, Utah : Brigham Young University Press, c1977.
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: BX8693 .B75]

Cline, Cheryl. Women's Diaries, Journals, and Letters: an Annotated Bibliography. New York: Garland Pub., 1989.
An international bibliography for published diaries.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: CT3230 .C55 1989]

Cobden, Richard. The American Diaries of Richard Cobden. Edited, with an introd. and notes, by Elizabeth Hoon Cawley. New York, Greenwood Press, [1969, c1952].
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: E166 .C6 1969]

Cole, Garold. Civil War Eyewitnesses: An Annotated Bibliography of Books and Articles, 1955-1986. Columbia: University of South Carolina, 1988.
Lists 1395 diaries, letters, autobiographies, etc., which were published in journals or as books.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: E 601 C78 1988]

Coulter, E. Merton. Travels in the Confederate States: A Bibliography. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1948.
Almost 500 annotated entries, including memoirs, regimental histories, prison accounts and published diaries.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: Z 1251.S7 C68]

Davis, Gwenn. Personal Writings by Women to 1900 : a Bibliography of American and British Writers. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1989.
Comprehensive from 1475-1899. Lists primarily diaries, but includes letters and autobiographies.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: PS147 .D385 1989]

Dreiser, Theodore. American Diaries, 1902-1926. Edited by Thomas P. Riggio. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983, c1982.
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: PS3507.R55 Z467 1983]

Goodfriend, Joyce D. The Published Diaries and Letters of American Women: an Annotated Bibliography. Boston: G.K. Hall, c1987.
Coverage from 1669-1982.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: CT3260 .G66 1987]

Havlice, Patricia Pate. And so to Bed: a Bibliography of Diaries Published in English. Metuchen, N.J.: Scarecrow Press, 1987.
Comprehensive coverage from 838 C. E. to 1978. Organized by beginning date of diary.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: CT25 .H38 1987]

Huff, Cynthia. British Women's Diaries: a Descriptive Bibliography of Selected Nineteenth-century Women's Manuscript DBiaries. New York: AMS Press, c1985.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: HQ1593 .H93 1985]

Matthews, William. American Diaries in Manuscript, 1580- 1954; a Descriptive Bibliography. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press [c1974].
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: Z5305.U5 M32]
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: Z5305.U5 M32]

Matthews, William. American Diaries, an Annotated Bibliography of American Diaries Written Prior to the Year 1861. Boston: J. S. Canner, 1959.
Largely superseded by Arksay and Havlice bibliographies (above).
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: Z5305.U5 M3 1959]

Messick, Frederic M. Primary sources in European diplomacy, 1914-1945 : a bibliography of published memoirs and diaries. New York : Greenwood Press, 1987.
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: D443 .M395 1987]

Woods, Richard Donovon. Autobiographical writings on Mexico : an annotated bibliography of primary sources. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland & Co., c2005.
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: CT553 .W655 2005]

McKinstry, E. Richard. Personal Accounts of Events, Travels, and everyday Life in America: an Annotated Bibliography. Winterthur, Del.: Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum, c1997.
A bibliography of manuscripts of travel accounts in the Winterthur Museum.
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: E161 .M25 1997]

V. Selected Collections of Narratives and Diaries

North American Women's Letters and Diaries, Colonial to 1950
Fulltext of letters and diaries, published and manuscript, of American women during the Colonial period through 1950.

In the First Person: Index to Letters, Diaries, Oral Histories, and Other Personal Narratives

Eighteenth Century Collections Online
Nearly 150,000 English-language titles and editions published between 1701 and 1800. For a general list of diaries, try a keyword search for 'diary.'

Early English Books Online
Full-text page images of over 96,000 titles from the Short-Title Catalogue of English works 1475-1640, Wing's continuation for 1641-1700, and their revisions. For a general list of diaries, try a keyword search for 'diary.'
The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography. Ed. by George P. Rawick, Jan Hillegas and Ken Lawrence. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1972-1979.
The main set (vols. 2-17) consists of transcriptions of narratives collected under the direction of the Federal Writers' Project, 1936-1939, and initially published under the title Slave Narratives: a folk history of slavery in the United States from interviews with former slaves. Supplements are texts of oral histories from other sources.
[Afro-American Studies Seminar: E444.A45 and suppls.]

Index to The American Slave. Edited by Donald M. Jacobs. Westport: Greenwood Press, 1981.
Lists all narrators by name with date, age, occupation, and state in which each was a slave. Also indexed by state and by occupation.
[Afro-American Studies Seminar: E444.A45 suppl. 3]

Blodgett, Harriet. Capacious Hold-all: an Anthology of Englishwomen's diary writings. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1991
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: PR1330 .C37 1991]

Diaries of Ireland: an Anthology, 1590-1987. Edited by Melosina Lenox-Conyngham. Dublin : Lilliput Press, 1998.
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: DA938 .D53 1998]

English Family Life, 1576-1716: an Anthology from Diaries. Edited by Ralph Houlbrooke. Oxford, [Oxfordshire] ; New York : Basil Blackwell, 1989, c1988.
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: HQ615 .E54 1989]

Schwaab, Eugene L. Travels in the Old South, Selected from Periodicals of the Times. Lexington: Univ. Press of Kentucky, 1973. 2 vols.
[Van Pelt Library Stacks: F 213.S38]
Includes a representative sampling of accounts published from 1783 to 1860, by professionals and businessmen, but also includes settler's letters to friends back home.
Microform Collections of Diaries
American Women's Diaries. Southern Women [microform]. New Canaan, CT: Readex Film Products, [1988-1990].
[Van Pelt Library Microtext: Microfilm 3722]

American Women's Diaries. Western Women [microform]. New Canaan, CT: Readex Film Products, [1991?].
[Van Pelt Library Microtext: Microfilm 3926]

New England Women and their Families in the 18th and 19th Centuries: Personal Papers, Letters and Diaries [microform]. Bethesda, MD: University Publications of America, c1997- .
[Van Pelt Library Microtext: Microfilm 4336]

Women's Language and Experience, 1500-1940: Women's Diaries and Related Sources [microform]. Amanda Vickery, ed. Marlborough, Wiltshire, England: Adam Matthew Publications, 1994.
[Van Pelt Library Microtext: Microfilm 4313]

Records of Ante-bellum Southern Plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War [microform]. Frederick, MD.: University Publications of America, 1985- .
[Van Pelt Library Microtext: Microfilm 3880]
Reproductions of diaries, letters, and accounts from libraries and archives across the South. Reel guides provide basic information on the activities of the plantation and the contents of the records. Kenneth Stampp is general editor.

VI. Finding Diaries in Archives and Manuscript Collections

Archival Resources - RLIN file.
Use this database to search for the location of unpublished primary sources material. Includes close to 700,000 collection records and over 28,000 collection guides.

National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections. Washington: Library of Congress
Lists manuscript collections in libraries around the country. Indexes provide access by name (personal or corporate) and subject.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks: Z 6620.U5 N3] 1959/1961-1986/1987,1988/1989-1993

Index to Personal Names in the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections, 1959-1984. Alexandria: Chadwyck- Healey, 1988. 2 vols.
[Van Pelt Reference Stacks: Z 6620 U5 I53 1988]

Index to Subjects and Corporate Names in the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections, 1959-1984. Alexandria, Va.: Chadwyck-Healey, 1994. 3 vols.
[Van Pelt Library Reference Stacks Z6620.U5 N3 Suppl.]

VII. Journal Article Indexes

The following databases are included here as they are useful tools for finding information about diaries and diarists, usually in the form of secondary literature such as journal articles or books.

America: History and Life.
Covers the history of the United States and Canada from prehistory to the present. Articles from 1964 to the present. Article abstracts may reference various published and unpublished diaries.

Historical Abstracts.
Covers the history of the world from 1450 to the present. Excludes United States and Canada. Articles published 1974 to the present.

MLA International Bibliography.
Covers literature, languages, folklore, and linguistics. Includes English and foreign languages. Articles from 1963 to the present.

Periodical Content Index.
Includes many references to articles about diaries and reviews of published diaries.

Victorian Database Online.
Content covers the time period from 1830-1914. Publication dates of articles represent 1945 to present.

VIII. Internet Sites

American Civil War: Resources on the Internet - Dakota State University.

American Memory: Historical Collections for the National Digital Library - Library of Congress.

Civil War Women
Primary sources from Duke University Library

Documenting the American South
Collection of full-text documents from UNC, including diaries and slave narratives.

Making of America - University of Michigan/Cornell site
Provides fulltext of books and journals from 1850 to 1900 to support American social history.
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