Since the dawn of civilization, many of our greatest thinkers, philosophers, and scientists have kept an in-depth record of their thoughts in the form of a journal. While their reasons varied, these surviving documents carry huge historical significance. Read on to learn about a few of the famous people who kept journals throughout history.
Leonardo da Vinci
Unquestionably one of the most influential artists, inventors, and thinkers of all time, Leonardo da Vinci found time to fill multiple journals with his genius. Many of the works he produced during his lifetime are currently displayed in some of the most respected museums and galleries in the world. Around 7,000 pages of material survive today, and amazingly, da Vinci wrote backward on the page so it would appear correctly in a mirror.
Another visionary, the “Mother of Modern Physics” is one of the most influential figures in the history of science. Her groundbreaking research on radioactivity led her to two Nobel Peace Prize awards. Marie Curie’s journals contain incredible details of the work she and her husband performed.
Few people have had a grander impact on literature than Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain. The author understood the importance of documenting his experiences and spent his entire lifetime journaling. He was known to keep a notebook on him should any idea arise. He began a new journal for every trip he took, filling each with notes, ideas, and thoughts.
A free Black woman in Philadelphia during the United States Civil War, Emilié Davis detailed her daily life and her feelings on the Emancipation Proclamation and Battle of Gettysburg. Her journals are also crucial to our understanding of how the nation coped following the assassination of President Lincoln.
One of the most influential voices of the 20th century, Anne Frank gained posthumous fame thanks to the diaries she kept detailing her and her family’s life in the secret room where they hid during World War II. She is one of the most notable examples of famous people who kept journals. The family was eventually captured by the Gestapo and she died at the Auschwitz concentration camp, but her story documenting the struggles of everyday life while in hiding are vital to our understanding of the Jewish experience during World War II.