We hold a large, artificial collection of diaries, journals and letter books, donated by Edward Hall, a dealer and collector of books (EHC).
The collection is of national and international importance but only a few items concern the Wigan area or even the North West.
The people who wrote these diaries were from a variety or social backgrounds, and lived across the country. An index of authors’ names and a comprehensive catalogue are available for use in the Archive Searchroom.
The Edward Hall collection comprises over 200 diaries and related documents going back to 1698. They were donated to Wigan Free Public Library and then the Archives from the late 1940s to the 1980s by Edward Hall, a dealer in ancient manuscripts.
Hall, who had married a woman from Wigan, Emily Littler, became interested in diaries following his discovery of the journals of Miss Weeton, a seventeenth century Lancashire governess. Edward Hall's own story included being disinherited by his wealthy father, service with distinction in both world wars and life in poverty on the dole during the depression years of the 1930s.
The collection contains some of Edward's own diaries and writings in which he gives a wonderful insight into life in the first half of the twentieth century.
An account of his life has been published over four editions of Past Forward:
The Archive also has the original diary of Roger Lowe (DDZ/A58). Mr Lowe was a shopkeeper of Ashton and Leigh in the seventeenth century. His diary is a unique resource and provides a fascinating account of life in Ashton.
Transcripts of diaries from the Edward Hall Collections: