John J Morris diaries

by in Bodmin, Cornwall, United Kingdom

We did it
On 4th May 2023 we successfully raised £1,070 with 34 supporters in 56 days

Preservation of a Lanivet man's 42 handwritten diaries, spanning from1913-1981. Once stabilised they will be digitalised & available online.

by in Bodmin, Cornwall, United Kingdom

What are the diaries?

The diaries are a collection of 42 hand written journals supplemented by a range of newspaper clippings, letters and similar ephemera. They span the years from 1913 to 1981 and are unique in that they are written in Lanivet, by John James Morris (1894 – 1983). They were discovered in the rubbish by Jo Poland in 2007. She identified the rightful owner and gained permission to conserve the diaries in order to use them for the benefit of the community. Working with Carol Miller, a resident of Lanivet, and Dr Kath Maguire from the University of Exeter a small grant (£500) was obtained from the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health. This enabled a professional assessment of the condition of the diaries and liaison with potential local and national partners to support their conservation and appropriate housing.

Current situation

Kresen Kernow (‘Cornwall Centre’) home to the world’s largest collection of documents related to Cornwall’s history, has agreed to house the journals and help to ensure they are made publicly available. Currently, however, the journals are fairly fragile; staples have rusted and much of the paper has begun to deteriorate. Impact Heritage CIC have costed their conservation at £19,846.20. Two graduate archives conservators will directly benefit from this funded conservation project. They will be mentored and trained in practical conservation and project management skills, working alongside an accredited conservator. They will perform treatments, preservation activities and communicate their work to a wider audience via videos, social media and presentations. This is real, hands-on, supported work experience for the next generation of conservators.

How you can help

Seventy percent of the cost of preservation and conservation (£13,892.34) has now been awarded from the National Manuscript Conservation Trust leaving £5,953.80 to be raised locally. We are currently seeking support to raise this money.

Future plans and ambitions for the diaries

Once the diaries have been stabilised the next step will be to digitalise them and make their content available online. This will be done with due sensitivity to the feelings of those still living and personal details will be redacted where appropriate.

We remain open to suggestions from local people as to the best use of the diaries. Current ideas have included using them as a resource to support local exhibitions, history societies, memory cafes, youth groups and schools. Funding applications will be made to bodies like the National Lottery Community Fund, Cornwall Council and local heritage charities to support these activities.

Academics are also keen to access the detailed information the diaries contain on a wide range of topics, from literature to medicine, meteorology and astronomy. Funding will be sought for these projects from the different funders now under the umbrella of Research Councils UK as well as project specific trusts.

You can help us

Your recognition of the local importance of the diaries will strengthen the case with local and national funders for conserving the diaries and developing community focussed and educational resources from them.

By publicising the project locally.

By facilitating access to local funding sources.

Parish councillors may be able to leverage some local small grant funding. Even small grants can help contribute towards the shortfall in conservation costs, cover expenses incurred running the project and develop community outreach activities. Support for local fundraising activities being run by project volunteers will also be valuable.

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