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Life writing as a source for local population history.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Forthcoming
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/08/2019
<mark>Journal</mark>Local Population Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Diaries and other forms of life writing can add significantly to the study of local populations and societies, especially when used in conjunction with more conventional aggregate sources. All the key demographic events have important personal and emotional resonances that can never be revealed by statistical analysis of births, marriages or deaths. Personal accounts can add meaning to population history and demonstrate the familial and community impacts of key life events. In this paper we examine the strengths and weaknesses of different types of life writing, and then focus on the ways in which personal diaries may provide insights into the meanings and implications of life events such as courtship, marriage, childbirth, illness and death. Examples are drawn from a range of diaries written in Britain between the 1840s and 1950s.