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From the Weather Diary to Autobiographical Prose: Personal Archive in the Cultural Space of a Small Town

Folkloristika 6/1 (2021): 107–123
Autor: Svetlana Alexandrovna Zhadovskaya
Tekst: PDF


The article analyzes the personal archive of a resident of the town of Orlov of the Kirov region, Russia – the former district center (center of uyezd) of the Vyatka province. The archive consists of weather diaries (daily weather records and comments), personal diaries, handwritten albums describing the life stages and activities of the author, her relatives and fellows, as well as albums with publications in the local newspaper. Such material quite often comes to the attention of researchers, but rarely belongs to one author and therefore is rarely analyzed as a whole. It is concluded in the article that long-term daily weather records that are genetically related with the traditional peasant way of life on one hand, and with the tradition of town chronicles on the other, become the starting point of the author’s literary work. There are cases when diary entries are transformed into literary sketches or poems, which are then published in the town press, and subsequently appear on the pages of handwritten albums. In general, the personal archive of E. S. Gunbina shows how the memory of local residents about themselves and their “place of residence” is maintained and transmitted in the space of a small town.
Keywords: small town, Russia, personal archive, literary activity, weather diary, autobiographical prose, ego document, diaries, local identity