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Dear Diary…

Posted for: Jennifer Pilling, Digital Library Intern, Spring 2010

Using the Barry-Hayes collection, I have recently completed a teachers’ guide for language arts, English, and history high school teachers. The guide focuses primarily on a journal that Patrick Hayes kept while journeying with John Barry to China on a merchant trade mission. Patrick kept meticulous notes on the weather, the various stops they took along the way, and customs that he experienced during the voyage. Other resources are also noted, including related primary documents held at the Independence Seaport Museum.

Patrick Hays His Book

As is the case with all primary source materials, Patrick’s journal gives us a window into the past, untarnished by interpretation. The goal of this guide is to highlight a primary source from history, to set it into historical context, and to use it for examination and comparison to better understand the history of written language. Teachers will first walk their students through information about written language in the 18th Century as it compares to writing conventions of today. They will then help the students understand the historical context in which Patrick Hayes wrote the journal, and lastly, the students will have the opportunity to read and interpret the journal for themselves.

There are several activities that teachers can assign to help bring the content of the guide to life. Students will be asked to learn how to transcribe excerpts from the journal, so they can see firsthand the differences that exist in grammar, punctuation and writing style at this time. They can also write their own journals and compare the types of adventures teenagers might experience today. Students can even learn how to make their own quill and ink.

This project has taught me the value of primary resources, and my experience transcribing the 78-page journal has increased my proficiency in reading 18th-century handwriting. I also learned quite a bit myself about writing conventions of the time, and the laborious process of preparing the paper, ink and quill before sitting down to write. The history that this single item holds is priceless, and worth exploring, with or without the guide. Enjoy!

Teacher’s Guide: Journey Back in Time: 18th Century Writing Practices & Modern Comparisons
Patrick Hayes’s Diary: “tho a bad Sailor…”



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Last Modified: May 27, 2010

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