Is Reading Grandma’s Diary Naughty?

If you have been following my last few posts, you know that I recently came upon a genealogy ‘mother lode’ of sorts.

At that time, I thought I would be writing to you today to tell you that I have cataloged everything and what a wonderful experience it was.  I realize now that I was delusional. Getting 3 boxes, 3 binders, and a briefcase all documented in two weeks???  Yes, completely delusional.

I scanned about 300 pictures over the course of 5 hours or so and have hardly made a dent in the first box!

our lineage

I also discovered a little burgundy 5 year diary.  (Hello! Can you say ‘sidetracked’?)  Most of the entries are from 1947, with a few from 1986/1988 or so that are in pen; the earlier ones are in pencil.

As I looked through it, I came across a very brief entry from 1947.  This entry tells me that my grandparents had company over.  

My grandfather must have argued with someone during the visit.  Based upon what my grandmother wrote, I get the idea that my grandfather had words with somebody.  My grandmother made a not-so-nice comment about my grandfather.

I read the entry out loud to my husband.  His immediate reaction was that I shouldn’t be reading the diary, it wasn’t meant to be read by anyone but my grandmother, and that I was snooping.

our lineage

Wow.  I hadn’t thought of it that way.  Is reading my grandmother’s diary naughty?  She kept it all these years and knew I would eventually see it as she was quite proud of my family interest and research.  Yet she never got rid of it.

My grandmother basically wondered why my grandfather could be such a jerk when company was over. Those are my words, of course, and since this was written in 1947, those are as colorful as they get.  My grandfather loved to argue Religion with a little politics thrown in, but mostly Religion.  

Maybe if it was more of a ‘bomb’, I would feel differently.  I just didn’t see the harm in reading it.

What do you think???  Let us know!

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I invite you to join me as I share my journey of successes, surprises, and of course, disappointments. All belong to my passion called Genealogy.
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8 Responses to Is Reading Grandma’s Diary Naughty?

  1. gpcox says:

    According to the results – the popular vote says you’re vindicated!!

  2. I found my grandparents’ 4 years worth of courtship letters from the late 1800s. They were definitely not X-rated, but they were full of personality. So when I wrote the whole family memoir book in 2011, I talked about the themes and the language in the letters, and what kind of values they had. I tried to treat them with respect. As you say, the documents were not thrown away, so they may even have been writing even with posterity in mind. Reading these old document does no harm to anyone — unless, somehow, you would try to hurt living people. And who would do that?

  3. I recently received a gazillion letters that my grandparents wrote back and forth from 1917-1919 and as I’m transcribing them I often feel like I’m snooping. Obviously, my grandparents have been gone for many years but they kept these letters in their basement and upon their deaths, the letters were transferred to a storage unit belonging to my parents. I’ve learned so much about my grandparents as they courted! I rationalize that while my grandparents probably never imagined their granddaughter reading them nearly 100 years later, they kept these letters for a reason. Although I will say that, so far, I haven’t found anything that might be super private so I might feel differently if I run across something like that.

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