Such a treasury is finding and reading an ancestor’s journal or diary. It is like getting the opportunity to speak to them directly. With a journal they have confined in their writings their deepest thoughts and feelings. One of most well-known historical figures was Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom who ruled from June 1837 until her death in January 1901. What many people may not realize is that she kept volumes of journals of her life, the personal and public matters for decades.
She began back in 1832, when she was the Princess of Kent, age 13, to write in a blank journal book given to her by her mother. Beginning with just one journal she continued her writings into two and three volumes and eventually over decades she had filled over 141 volumes.
Queen Victoria not only wrote of her daily routine, her family life, but also the numerous heads of state she met with, well-known celebrities of the day, 19th century authors, the common people of the kingdom as well as her travels to regions of England.
One of the great love stories of all time was that of Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert, whom she married in 1840. He was her whole life and together they had nine children who survived to adulthood. Victoria was heartbroken at his early death in 1861.
Safe for years in the Royal Archives of the United Kingdom, the journals by a queen have now been scanned and are available online to view. As it turns out there are a few versions which can be viewed. First in Victoria’s own handwriting are journals covering 1832 to 1837 and 1843 to 1855. Then her journals for 1832 to 1840 were later transcribed (typed out) by Lord Esher. Victoria’s youngest daughter, Beatrice, who kept the journals after her mother’s 1901 death, also did an massive transcription covering 1837 to 1901.
On the ‘Browse Journals’ page you can select a version, a year, month and even date, then the red ’Go to selection’ with arrows bar can be clicked to view the scanned journal page. There are viewer buttons along the lower portion of the scanned image to enlarge the page. At the top you can also select ‘Search’, where you can place a certain date along with a key word to see if Queen Victoria wrote of a certain person, event or location.
One of the most fascinating items you will see from the journals are the numerous illustrations / sketches, done with ink or watercolors by Victoria. She loved to illustrate the people and places she wrote about in the journals. There were even self-portraits. There is a section of journal illustrations and a separate sketchbook drawings, some dating back to 1827. Hover over each for a full description and date.
Looking over this site will not only provide insight to a queen and her life, but help the reader understand 19th century and especially the ‘Victorian Era’. This would tie-in nicely with anyone who has ancestors who lived in the United Kingdom during Victoria’s reign.
The drawing above was done by Queen Victoria - a self portrait in 1842.