Project Updates · The Locals Diaries

The Locals: Diaries

An ongoing ‘outbreak’ diary

Have you been documenting your experiences of life during the COVID-19 outbreak, or of self-isolating, home-schooling, time with family, working from home, food shortages or social distancing?

Many of us will be recording our thoughts in this unprecedented time, either as a means of making sense of the experience, or simply to record the previously unimaginable events unfolding on a day by day basis. 

Diaries capture history in a personal, unique manner, directly reflecting daily life during ordinary – or, in this case, extraordinary – circumstances. Sutton Archives holds several local diaries in its collection: To get a taste, you can read about Winifred Lilian Garman’s diary here – this research was conducted by her great-niece, Margaret, who discovered her great-aunt’s photograph in the archive whilst volunteering with us and was able to add to our understanding of her life and times by sharing entries from her personal diary, held by the family.

Sutton Cultural Services invites local people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds to consider documenting their experiences, thoughts and feelings during this strange time. The contributions will be added to Sutton’s borough Archive collection as an important and hugely valuable record of events.

You might choose to cover topics such as homeschooling, isolation, shopping, being creative, exploring new interests, or the way this has focused your thoughts in unexpected ways. There is no restriction as to the format of your diary, and entries can be as short or as long as you like. You can document a single event, a day, a week, or keep an ongoing diary. Your diary can include photographs, drawings, poetry – it can be handwritten or digital. You can record your thoughts and submit them as audio recordings. You can also submit a group or family journal.

Any way you choose to record events and thoughts is valid and of great importance. 

Your submission can be anonymised if you wish. We will make arrangements to redact any personal information from records that are collected and are happy to discuss any concerns there might be over the sharing of specific journal entries.  In some circumstances we can close the records for an indefinite period, allowing for them to be kept for posterity and opened only after living memory has passed.

How to submit your entry: 

Contact us at or call us at 0784 260 1184 (Monday to Friday) to express your interest and for more information.  

Digital diaries can be submitted at any time on a rolling basis via email or online transfer. 

Physical diaries will be collected on a date announced later in the year.

To get a taste of some of our submissions, check our latest blog posts here.

Additional resources: 

Sutton Cultural Services have created an array of templates and resources to help participants develop and produce contributions for The Locals Diaries project:

A Diary of When We Saved Lives Diary Template

A Diary of When We Stayed Home (SEN friendly Diary Template)

Information Pack for Organisations and Partners

Participant Call-out (Large print)

We also offer activity packages for schools – get in touch for more information.


5 thoughts on “The Locals: Diaries

  1. Reblogged this on The Past on Glass & Other Stories… and commented:
    Along with many Archives around the country, Sutton Archives is encouraging residents and visitors to our Borough to document their experiences of this unprecedented period for inclusion in the archive. Read all about this project in this post on Sutton Heritage’s other blog site, and consider if you may like to be involved. We welcome submissions from all, and in any format. Get in touch if you have any questions…

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