The last of Oscar's diary entries make their way to our website

By john joyce on 8 Jun 2010

Today we added the last of Oscar Kirk, our 15 year old Messenger Boy from 1919, diary entries to our website, timed to be go “live” on the corresponding day his diary relates to this year.

The last of Oscar’s diary extracts is timed for 29 June, and over the last six months the team in Communications has got to know Oscar very well.

Oscar had a very sweet tooth and included in his diary lists of the treats he had bought that day not only for himself but for members of his family such as his sister Marjorie:

Saturday 22 February 1919 “It is my half day today and I went to Aldgate with Antram and bought a smoked sausage & ¼ of chocolate, a plateful of cockles, two buns, two bars of chocolate”

A veracious reader, Oscar provided an insight into the magazines and books of interest to youngsters at the time, indeed, at times you forgot that Oscar was still only 15 years old as he detailed his working day of early rises and mail deliveries around the docks of the East End, only for his diary to remind you as he writes how at lunchtime he would “stop for a play in the sack shed”.

Between January and June 1919 Oscar welcomed a new baby to the family, and introduced us to his friends and family from ‘Appa and Nana through to the brothers Antram.

As Oscar spent most of his working day outside, he kept meticulous note of the weather, and one of the highlights during this project was welcoming the BBC Weather Show to Museum of London Docklands to film a piece on the diary and indeed the links to all the content from that edition of the show from the Museum – all thanks to Oscar.

Extracts from Oscar’s diary have also been “tweeted” via Oscar’s twitter page @OscarKirk1919 and it is hoped that the success of this serialisation online can be repeated with other diaries from our collection.

The web pages dedicated to Oscar will remain as a resource under “Collections” on the Museum of London Docklands website www.museumoflondon.org.uk/oscarkirk

Fittingly, the last diary entry the Museum holds sees Oscar relate how the signing of the peace treaty that ended WWI was celebrated:

Sunday 29 June 1919 “Yesterday there were Maroons, Thunder Flashes and many other fireworks being let off after 3 o’clock and before 3 o’clock. Today a lot of people were drunk, as a result of the peace.”

Painting: Firework Display in Hyde Park. Oil on Canvas.Charles William Wyllie. The National Peace Celebrations were held in London on 19 July 1919 to mark the end of the First World War © Museum of London.

3 thoughts on “The last of Oscar's diary entries make their way to our website

  1. Vicky Ellis says:

    Sorry the link to Collections and pages about Oscar is broken, would love to see it!

    1. Bilkis Mosoddik says:

      Thank you Vicky for pointing out the broken link. I have fixed the link so it’s pointing to the new home: http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/Collections-Research/Research/Your-Research/Oscar-Kirks-1919-diary/

  2. Vicky Ellis says:

    Thank you, it’s really interesting and a really creative way of working with archive documents.

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