Learn with Hanford Mills

Reading and Analyzing Diaries




Analyze and use diaries as research sources and practice expressing thoughts and experiences through either words or drawings.


Students will analyze examples of diaries and will create their own diary entries based on their visit to Hanford Mills Museum.


    A copy of one of the historic diaries for each student (six days on one page):

  • Choose a pdf version of a diary example with a transcription on the page
  • February 1890
  • April/May 1890
  • July 1890
  • A copy of Vocabulary and Information about the Diaries insert “Vocabulary and Information about Diaries.pdf” (this will help teachers explain certain terms and people you will find in the diaries)
  • Crayons or colored pencils
  • Writing implements


  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes
  • Class Time: 30-45 minutes


    As a class or in small groups, read some of the printed diary entries.
    Questions to ask:

  • Preparation Time: 10 minutes
  • Class Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Who is telling the story?
  • What kind of information can we learn from diaries?
  • How are these diaries different from other books that you read?
  • How do you think the Museum may have used diaries like this one?
    • Choose one of the following options and have students create their own diary entry about their museum visit.

    • For younger students: create a picture diary where students draw pictures to tell about their trip to Hanford Mills Museum. They may phonetically write a story if they wish.
    • For older Students: create a written diary where students write about their day at Hanford Mills Museum. They may draw pictures in the spaces provided if they wish to. Have the students discuss their diaries with the class.
    • As a class, discuss the diaries that the students created.
      Question to pose to the class:

    • How are diaries written in the past helpful to people who read them today?
    • How are picture diaries written in the past helpful to people who use them today?
  • You may choose to create a class diary on the wall or to bind them together in booklet form.


  • Participation in class discussions (listening and speaking)
  • Written diary entries

NYS Learning Standards:

  • ELA Standard 1
  • ELA Standard 2
  • ELA Standard 3
  • Social Studies Standard 1