Interesting short article at WSJ: Twitter Updates, the 18th Century Edition
A quick look at a few of the entries from several diaries shows that Twitter’s famous 140-character limit wouldn’t have been a problem for these writers:
April 27, 1770: Made Mead. At the assembly.
May 14, 1770: Mrs. Mascarene here and Mrs. Cownsheild. Taken very ill. The Doctor bled me. Took an anodyne.
Sept. 7, 1792: Fidelia Mirick here a visiting to-day.
Jan. 26, 1873: Cold disagreeable day. Felt very badly all day long and lay on the sofa all day. Nothing took place worth noting.
Before the end of the 19th century, diaries weren’t considered private or introspective. Instead, people wrote semi-public diaries that were often shared among faraway family members and others. And space was at a premium; by the mid-1800s, popular “pocket diaries” were only about 2 inches by 4 inches and were intended to be more mobile than earlier books.