Diaries written by an ancestor are amongst the most valuable family heirlooms of all time. Whether it is a diary written by a soldier in wartime or a day-by-day account of life on the farm, these daily journals provide great a understanding of the lives of our ancestors. However, this begs the question: Are you creating a diary with a plan to leave it for your descendants?
An article by David Nield in Popular Science magazine says:
“Keeping a daily journal lets you practice writing, organize your thoughts, and preserve your habits and events for posterity. But who has the time and energy to sit down for a dedicated recording session every day? Instead, jot down your entries on the go—by keeping the tome on your phone.”
Indeed, writing an electronic journal can provide great benefits to yourself when you need to go back and recall an event or some instructions from your past. However, if preserved properly, the same journal can provide a greater understanding of your life for other family members long after you are gone.
Nield’s article then goes on to provide brief descriptions of five popular journaling products of today. All of them have versions for smartphones and tablet computers while two of them also offer additional versions for desktop and laptop computers. One of them (Journey) even can be used in a web browser. Those with multiple versions can be used to enter and retrieve information in a single journal from more than one device, wherever you are.
The access from multiple devices can be very handy in many situations. Sync your journal across multiple platforms. You can write on-the-go with Android and Apple’s iOS, or at the comfort of your own home on Mac, Windows, Chromebook, or any other device that has a web browser and can connect to the Internet. Since the data is stored in “the cloud,” you can access the journal from any device. Obviously, access is controlled by a user name and password that you do not share with anyone else.
You can find David Nield’s article, Think you’re too busy to journal? These apps let you do it on the go, at https://www.popsci.com/apps-to-journal-on-smartphone.
While all of these apps are great for storing and retrieving your own daily diary for your own use, I don’t believe any of them include built-in capabilities to save your information in any form of long-term storage. How do you save the information in a manner that will make it available to future generations? The answer isn’t simple but you do have options.
Of course, you can always print everything out on paper. Just make sure you use acid-free paper and archival quality inks (not laser toner). Then store the paper in lignin-free storage containers in a location with good temperature and humidity controls, not in the attic or in a basement.
I did briefly offer some other suggestions for multi-year storage in earlier articles at https://blog.eogn.com/2015/05/08/digital-files-may-last-much-much-longer-than-paper-or-microfilm/ and at https://blog.eogn.com/2017/07/12/preserving-documents-digitally/. However, I will warn you that I do not know of any single, simple solution that works for all situations.