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QEII Library houses '100-year diary'

Linda White (at left) holds one end of the 100-year diary. Chris Hammond Photo

By Mandy Cook

When the St. John's daily newspaper The Telegram reached the milestone of its 100th anniversary in 1979, it was decided by then-editor Michael Harrington to mark the occasion with something unique.

A timeline of events covering 100 years of Newfoundland history mixed with world events was stitched together end-to-end, creating what is now known as the 100-Year Diary: A Chronology of Newfoundland History from 1879-1978.
The document, printed on a single piece of paper, measures 1.5 inches wide by 437 inches long – coming in at almost 36.5 feet. A component of the Michael Harrington collection held at the Queen Elizabeth II Library, it has
been digitized by Don Walsh in Library Systems. Find it
in the Digital Archives Initiative (DAI) here:

Mr. Harrington was the editor of The Telegram from 1959-82. He had a long and varied association with Memorial University. His family donated his personal collection of written documents and other archival material to Memorial in April of 2001, two years after his death at the age of 82.

His 100-year diary now proves to be a trove of fascinating information. Linda White, archivist with Archives and Special Collections, catalogued the entire collection. She said puzzling out the purpose of the impressive ream of paper intrigued her.

"The timeline appears to be a reprint of the regular "50 Years Ago Today" and "25 Years Ago Today" Telegram columns," said Ms. White. "It took me a while to figure it out. I thought, 'Why do something so long?' Then I saw that "100 year diary" was pencilled in at the top of the spool of paper and that the first entry is dated back to 1879. The whole box was also devoted to the 100th anniversary of The Telegram."

Some of the entries are purely local, such as this, in 1888: "Two prisoners at Penitentiary were flogged on Tuesday last – the anniversary of the Queen's birthday." Others capture a local angle but with international reach, such as the 1883 entry: "Brooklyn Bridge opened. A Newfoundland rigger and construction gang foreman first to cross, going over when the first suspension cable was anchored." Later entries marked local, national and world events together, such as this one in 1966: "Come Home Year big success. USSR makes first safe landing on moon. Archbishop of Canterbury meets Pope Paul in Rome. U.S. makes soft landing on moon. Rt. Rev. Robert L. Seaborn enthroned Lord Bishop of Newfoundland."

If you love trivia, says Ms. White, you'll "love the fabulous bits of info" just waiting to be unfurled in the 100-year diary at the Queen Elizabeth II Library.