The Edward Hall Diary Collection is one of the most important set of records held by Wigan Archives & Local Studies. Extending back to 1698, the collection consists of over 200 diaries, journals and memoirs, written by individuals from a variety of backgrounds and nationalities and collected by Hall, a veteran of both World Wars and a man with connections to the Wigan area who donated the diaries to the Archives during his lifetime.
The diaries are of international interest for both a general and academic readership and are consulted by researchers from around the world. In recent years the diaries have been studied for the history of travel, tourism and holidays, Victorian domestic life, the Napoleonic wars and women’s history.
The volumes found on these pages were digitised as part of a conservation project generously funded by the National Manuscript Conservation Trust. Four of the volumes conservation were those of Ellen Weeton, a Lancashire school-mistress and governess, and the author of one of the most remarkable accounts of a woman’s life from the regency period.
The further diaries conserved are the anonymous travel journal, “A New Voyage to the Levant” (1746-1747), the diary of Corporal Todd during the Seven Years War, Sarah Haslam’s travel journal in the Welsh Marches (1802) and Dorothy Scholes’ First World War nursing diary (1914-1918).
This collection of diaries is near unique and much work is undertaken to raise the profile of diaries as historical sources. This includes a recent Radio 4 programme featuring the collection and an upcoming exhibition at the V&A Museum of Childhood.
More information on the National Manuscript Conservation Trust can be found here.