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The Historic value of Diaries Demands Preservation
The Historic value of Diaries Demands Preservation
 
 
When talking about personal histories, autobiographies and official biographies always seem to be first on the list. The most popular chronicle the lives and legacies of heads of states, military commanders, and members of royal families. But beyond these official or unofficial accounts of extraordinary lives, the personal diary of almost any individual are so critical to understanding the nuances of the time they lived in.

When someone takes the time to record their impressions and notes in a daily diary, those recollections became important source for historians as well as biographers. The diaries of writers help us to understand their thought process and style of working?the cuttings, half sentences, corrections and revisions of an author's process which are revealed in their personal writings can help us to understand when and where and how the idea formation takes place.

To this end, the Panjab Digital Library has taken initiative to digitize personal dairies. In the present era, writers tend to work most often on computers, and they type out their ideas. However, in earlier times the only way to commit your thoughts and ideas to permanent form was to pen them out; a single copy at a time to be sent to the printer eventually if you were lucky and deemed publishable. it used to get penned down. For this reason, digitization of personal diaries from older times, often when only one hand written copy exists, have extreme archival value.

It was in the process of digitizing Mann Singh Nirankari's diary from 1969, that those at PDL first began ruminating on the importance of diary preservation.

Mann Singh Nirankari's dairy is not a daily documentation of writer's activities - rather it is a series of reflections and missives recording his engagements with different aspects of Sikhi religious life. He has written about the different sects within Sikhism: Radhaswami and Nirankaris. He also comments on the followers of Ghadar party as they are Sikhs by appearance and engage with Sikh history but they have socialist ideas of Marxist thought. This dairy also contains a draft of a letter written to Sadhu Singh Hamdard, the Editor of the Daily Ajit, in which he discusses contemporary issues of the day with the journalist.

In light of the learning experience digitizing this diary provided for PDL, we are putting the call out to all of our readers and supporters to please send us personal dairies you think might be ripe for digitization. This project helps us understand personalities and history in an extremely nuanced manner, allowing us to fulfil our responsibility to history and to past generations of our family to commit their words to historic memory.

 
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