Diarist Samuel Pepys was born.
Samuel Pepys was born in London on February 23, 1633. Though he was an important government official, Pepys is primarily known for the detailed diary that he maintained for 10 years. Much of what we know today about day-to-day life in 17th century London comes from his diary. In it, Pepys describes with great detail and compassion the Great Fire of London, the plague that beset Europe, and the coronation of Charles II.
One of the most interesting aspects of Pepys' diary is that we can read about the details of this person's life and then make assumptions about life in general for the people of that time period.
Ask students to write diary entries that recap everything they did the day before. They should write about what they ate, the clothes they wore, activities they did, and so on, making their diary entries as detailed and descriptive as possible. Then, have each student switch diary entries with another student, who will read the entry as if he or she were living a hundred years from now. Direct students to underline words and phrases that describe what life must have been like for teenagers in the year 2013.
As a class, brainstorm a list of defining characteristics of life in the early 21st century, and ask students to write paragraphs that summarize these details.
Older students can read a section of Pepys' diary and write paragraphs to summarize life in the 17th century.
This site contains a biography of Pepys, numerous pictures of him, and excerpts from his diary.
This site from National Public Radio offers a series of "radio diaries," in which people of various backgrounds document events of their lives. Students can listen to several of the broadcasts and access information about how to create their own radio diaries.
This site contains hundreds of excellent resources associated with Anne Frank, one of the most famous and widely taught diarists.