Wednesday, August 18, 2010

1945 Diary

When I was first researching the WIP I was torn on where the setting should be. My first thought was London, as the post-war time period made sense with battered London--symbolic references of the damage done by the war would be on every street corner. But it felt distant. I could't quite make it work.

So I started floating around other city ideas...New York...small town Indiana...Chicago. Huh, I thought, Chicago. Kind of the American every-city. Interesting culture and architecture, still very vibrant and evolving at the time.

Then I found this: An online diary of a high school student from 1945 and 1946. Dot, as you can come to know very well through her daily musings, was a vivacious young woman living in the suburbs of Chicago in 1945, getting into all kind of miniature adventures and romantic tangles. Her son found her diary and, decades after she passed away, posted the entries along with ephemera from the time and place--newspaper clippings, photographs.

Seeing Chicago in 1945 through Dot's eyes sealed the deal for me--this was where my characters belonged. They fit there--I could see them passing her by on the L, sitting a table away at a diner. They visit many of the haunts Dot describes in her diary--the ballrooms, the theaters, the streetcars.

Two years of diary postings are still available on the site 1945 and 1946. Daily postings continue on the world Dot lived in--making this blog well worth a drop by.

7 comments:

Nicole MacDonald said...

that must have been pretty exciting for you :) what a boon!

Audra said...

I literally gasped reading this -- what a find! I'm going to start reading, too -- and I'm inspired to be more detailed in my daily diary entries.

Brownpaperbaggirl said...

How incredible! I just adore coming across such wonderful finds.

Lua said...

Funny how the story reaches to us and finds its own city, time, characters… :) Dot’s diary sounds amazing, I can’t imagine how you felt when you found it online!

Hema P. said...

How fascinating! I love history because it's a way of living in the past without the need for a time machine. Thanks for the links, Rowenna!

Rowenna said...

Nicole and BPG--I was so excited to find this! It was not only a great research boon, but such a cool find even if I hadn't been able to "use" it at the moment.

Audra--I know what you mean! I used to keep a journal, but I've never been a diarist--but after reading this I can see the value of being able to pass something like that along!

Lua--I know. December knew where it wanted to live, and had to wait for me to catch up.

Hema--The past just fascinates me, and seeing this was like stepping into a time machine! A real window into the past.

Miss Rosemary said...

How very cool! And what a great resource for history lovers/writers like ourselves :)