COVID 19 Diaries

Aberdeen City & Aberdeenshire Archives holds records of previous public health emergencies, from the plague in medieval times through to the Spanish Flu and Typhoid outbreaks in the 20th century.

We are looking for local people in Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire to keep diaries of their experiences in lockdown to allow future generations to understand what is was like to live through this pandemic.

The archives are asking people of all ages to consider keeping a diary in the coming weeks and months to be submitted to the archive when the crisis is over. You can use good old-fashioned pen and paper or digital formats to record the impact of the coronavirus on your household and community. Audio and photo-diaries are also welcome.

The gallery below shows a few examples of collections that allow us to understand what previous emergencies were like to live through: entries from log books from Ashley Road and Rosemount Schools recording details of the Spanish Flu pandemic in October 1918, and essays written by school pupils during the Second World War about what they are missing under war conditions.


Oct 11. [1918] Attendance much affected by colds and influenza. Over 14% of absenteeism for the week. Miss Lyon resumed duty on Tuesday. Mr Walker H.M.I.S. visited on the afternoons of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and examined the six classes of the Junior Division.

Oct. 15 [1918] Owing to Influenza having become epidemic all the Primary Schools are closed as from today by order of the Medical Officer of Health. About 20% were absent yesterday and today, affected with the disease, and a considerable number of other schools were much worse. Miss Metcalfe – Jun. 6 – has also contracted the disease.

Oct 15th The epidemic of influenza is spreading rapidly. It has become so serious that the schools of Aberdeen (Rosemount among them) are to be closed tomorrow 16th inst inclusive til Monday 28th inst. This has been done by the advice of Dr Matthew Hay [Aberdeen’s Medical Officer of Health] and Dr Rose [School Medical Officer].

Things I Miss in Wartime

At the present time we are war with Germany. We have to do without a lot of things that we had before the war. I miss sugar and that is one thing we cannot get. another thing I miss is sweets and chocolates.

At night when we go out the lights in the streets are out. We do not get so many comics because of the shortage of paper. Begore the war I could have gone out into the country for a holliday [sic] but I cant [sic] get for the air raids. At night we could have slept in peace but we have to rise when the siren goes and I miss my sleep vey much. But one thing I miss most of all is my father who is in the Royal Aiir force. I miss him because he took me down to help him with his work. At nights we would have gone to the pictures. I cant [sic] even get to the carnivals because they are loses untill [sic] after the war. But we will stick it out.

Things I miss In War-time

The chief things I miss in war time is the food stuffs and Guy Fawkes night on the 5th of November.

Food Stuffs are sometimes very scarce such as butter because it takes two and a half gallons of milk to make one pound of butter. Another is syrup which is now rationed at half a pound per person for a month. the reason for this because it is an import of britains from other countries such as the Dutch East indies, India and Burma and it takes our ships a long time because the countries are a great distance away. Cheese is also very diffucult [sic] to get because it came Holland and Denmark which is now under Nazis domination. The butchers find it hard to get ham because it comes from New Zealand.

Paper is getting short and exercise books are very thin; papers are little more than bills now adays because the wood – pulp came from Norway and Sweden. The Esparto grass came from Spain and Africa.

The 5th of November was a great night of rickets whizzing into the air followed by loud bangs and Roman candles which are a long shaped round pieces of carboard [sic] which when lighted give beautiful little stars.

Things I Miss in Wartime

One of the things I miss in wartime is playing with crackers and sparklers. I bought crackers last year but I didn’t get to play with them, for a warden Caught me, and said that I shouldn’t’ light them outside, but light them inside.

Another thing that I miss in wartime is playing tennis. I used to go out at half-past seven and play till half-past eight. Now I can’t do it because My parner [sic] has flitted to a safer region. When I try to go out at night it is always dark and I have olny [sic] a little while ot play.

The worst thing of all which I miss is my brother, who is a sailor in the Merchant Navy. The way I miss him is that he is missing, his boat believed sunk. I used to play all sorts of games with him, counting, racing on cycles, which I like very mutch [sic], another thing we used to play was football, which my brother was very good at he used to play for an aberdeen team, in which he was outside left.

The last thing of all I miss in wartime is my life-boys, which was finished last year. We used to have treasure huts ect. [sic] We had a concert last year and we collected ten pounds in money which we though [sic] was very good. [...]

Things I miss in Wartime

There are many things which we cannot get owing to the war, and some things we are rationed with. Among them are sugar, tea, and fats, which are very scarce.

One thing which I miss very much is a bar of chocolate or some sweets, Cakes and fancy biscuits have no sugar icing on them now also owing to the scarcity.

I used to enjoy having in the evening a walk past the lighted windows of the large shops in the main streets of the town. Sometimes we went to the seaside or had a picnic in the country or in a park, but nowadays we hardly every [sic] have any picnics though we often go to the park where we spend some of our most happy hours.

Even in Summer there is not the happy crowds who seemed to make the streets look so gay walking on there [sic] way.

Instead you will see a battalion of soldiers or a parade of the Home Guard marching along.

The Torch-light procession with all its flaring torches and gaily-dressed students is another happening which we miss so dearly.


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