Many girls of all ages keep diaries or journals. Ever since girls started reading and writing they have recorded their thoughts in diaries left behind for us to read years later. Diaries have been an important part of many girls’ lives for centuries. The earliest known diary written in English by a woman is that of Lady Margaret Hoby. It was mostly written in the early 1600s.

I remember my first diary. It was a green hardcover journal with a picture of Wishbone on the cover. I mostly wrote about school, my dog, or my latest 3rd grade crush. Back then I always hated it when my friends found my diary, but now it is something to laugh about together.

In recent times, diaries have been marketed more toward girls than to boys. When I was little we all wanted the Password Journal to keep our thoughts extra safe. There were also the cute little notebooks sold at school book fairs that had locks on them. I probably still have keys to at least 6 long gone diaries. I think that diaries are encouraged more for girls than for boys because girls are seen as more emotional and reflective, while boys are often trained to be tough, with thinking that they should not need to write out their thoughts and feelings. These gender roles can be seen throughout history. Men’s diaries tend to be straightforward facts and events while women’s diaries show more concern for feelings.

Diaries are good for many things. It can be therapeutic to write about your day. They can be used as historical records to learn about life long ago. They can also bring people together when an old childhood diary is found, which makes for a fun night of reminiscing. In today’s world of technology, people are turning to blogs or sites such as Live Journal to write their thoughts and sometimes share them with the world. Even with these new innovations, I think that girlhood diaries will continue to be a part of growing up for many young girls. I have graduated from my Wishbone diary, but I still like to keep a journal because it is nice to read old entries and see how much I have changed. I encourage other girls and women to do the same because a diary can become a precious collection of memories to look back on.

-Hillary Hanel
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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