In modern day America men do Not use Diaries. The connotation for many is that a diary is relegated to the mushy female teen. Witness the first page of The Diary of a Wimpy Kid. If you click on the cover of the book then scroll down to the page headed “September” and keep reading you will see what I mean.
Call it what you want – just write in it
But, the good part is real men do keep Journals whether they call them journals or notebooks or logs or daybooks or ledgers or memoirs or even chronicles. How do I know? Well, just to start with I’m married to a real man who, yep, keeps a journal.
There are a few more reasons I know that real men keep journals. For instance Isaac Newton was a journal writer from days gone by who certainly maintained journals.
And Phil West of Austin, Texas recently told us about his journal writing escapades.
20 famous men who used journals
Of course there is this wonderful piece, The Pocket Notebooks of 20 Famous Men by Brett and Kate McKay of The Art of Manliness concerning some very real men who kept pocket notebooks. And, just as I wrote to Brett, those notebooks are in every sense of the word journals. You have just got to take a look at this awesome post with excellent photos as well as exemplary writing.
Brett McKay’s secret?
Plus, I know a secret about Brett McKay. Check back this coming Thursday (October 6) on this blog roll to learn everything I find out when I interview Brett.
3 less famous men who used journals
What you’ll find below is information including a few links so you can see online transcripts or photos of the journals that have been written by three other real men. In contrast to the list the McKays completed most of these men are less well known. Yet their journals are enlightening, interesting and appealing in their own ways.
Michael Shiner journaling slave
Michael Shiner was an American slave (later manumitted) who worked in the Washington Navy Yard in Washington D. C. He lived from 1805 to 1880 and his preserved journals cover the time from 1813 till 1869. He wrote about political as well as social happenings in and around Washington, D. C. He also tells of being able to purchase the freedom of his wife and children from slave traders and his gratitude to those who helped him.
Shiner learned to read and write by attending Sunday School at a time when teaching those skills to black people was not accepted custom. Although his writing is difficult to read (the spelling and grammar are rough and there is no punctuation) it is well worth the effort. For a greater understanding of the early history of Washington D. C. and the practices of the people living there his writing is quite valuable. As a way to look at the man Michael Shiner it is invaluable.
William Bulkeley – a squire and his journal
On we go to the journal of William Bulkeley who lived from 1691 to 1760. His journals cover a 26-year period of day-to-day life from 1734 to 1760. Each daily entry began with the weather and the direction of the wind. (In today’s political clime this may sound familiar, but no, this had nothing to do with politics – it was the real wind he was recording.)
Mr. Bulkeley’s journal serves as a reminder of the connectedness of our past to our present. Although Bulkeley lived in a different age, in a different country (Wales) and had a decidedly different lifestyle from today’s American man this story from his journal is a pointed reminder of the fact that our journals take us through times of dismay to other times of joy and circle right back again to trouble spelled with a capital T.
We find Bulkeley recording in 1735 that his daughter wrote to him “requesting … speedy consent of her being marryed to Wright forthwith whereby she may prevent all further trouble…” Well, yes, Ms. Bulkeley was pregnant with Wright’s child.
Soon after the marriage the happy young couple visits Bulkeley. Then Bulkeley adds this to his journal in 1736, [Wright] “shows a fondness to his wife… always playing with her, and kissing of her…” Uh huh, Dad is pleased that his daughter’s new husband is in love with the sweet young thing.
Only five years later in 1741 we find the marriage seems to have gone kaput. At this point the journal entry says, “the barbarous usage and insults received by my Daughter from her husband … who thereupon went a rambling towards Dublin.”
Civil war soldier Cornelius C. Platter kept a journal
Our last journal writer is Cornelius C. Platter a civil war soldier.
Check out this photo of his journal. Look at the lower left corner just below the blank line.
It says in part, “ A sad – sad day – We heard the news of the assassination of President Lincoln – I never saw such a gloomy set of men in my life as the soldiers were after the news came” This entry was dated April 17, 1865 three days after the assassination took place. In its own subtle way, this entry is a reminder of the difference between 1865 and our time when news of the death of a president would travel much faster. You will also have noticed by looking at the photo how neat and experienced is the hand of Mr. Platter.
His journal covers only the years 1864 to 1865. The entries discuss part of Sherman’s war activities. Platter gives dates, times, and lengths of marches. He mentions the weather, various locations, food, and scenery. The journal is used to record different orders, a few rumors, and his thoughts concerning troop morale.
Bonus example of a real man journal writer
See, I told you. Real men use journals.
We are actively searching for real men who write in journals. Truth is we are looking for men, women, teens, and children who write in journals. We would like to interview them for inclusion in our “Who Journals?” series.
If you are a real man who writes in a journal stand up and tell us in the response section below. And if you are a woman who knows a real man who writes in a journal, go ahead, use the section below. Tell us about the real men you know who journal.