Dad’s letters and diaries

This page contains links to a number of pdf files that deal with letters written and diaries kept by my father, Johannes Jacobus van den Born, between the time of our family’s move to Canada in 1949 and my father’s death in 1980. Click on the relevant links below to see the files.

The first file contains letters written to customers and acquaintances during 1949 to 1953. My father typed the letters and then sent them to Holland where they were printed and distributed to a number of people. The letters were written in Dutch, and I have translated them into English to the best of my ability. In one or two of the earliest letters Dad expressed feelings of doubt and uncertainty that he never expressed orally to us as children. In the later letters it seemed that he was running out of things to write, and the letters became much less personal.

Letters written to people in Holland 1949-1953

In January 2015, Bertha loaned to me four letters from Dad to Mother that he wrote in 1976 and 1979, during her visits in Holland. A fifth letter was from Mother to Bill and Bertha in 1983, during Mother’s last visit to Holland. She died about six weeks after she returned from that visit. Click on the link below for the page with links to the five letters.

Letters from Dad and Mother in 1976, 1979, 1983

Dad kept a running handwritten diary during the entire part of his life in Canada, in Dutch. The first few pages of the document were written by me and deal with our family’s train-boat-train trip from Achterberg in the Netherlands to Busby in Alberta, via Rotterdam, Paris, Le Havre, Quebec, and Edmonton. Much of the material written by my father deals with activities on and around the farm, including, of course, regular weather reports, but there are also many references to events that involved family members. Some events are conspicuously absent from the diaries, for unknown reasons. During the last few years of his life, Dad wrote in his diaries less frequently, and more of the content refers to, for example, the first or last swallows of the season.

The first file contains a typed extract of the diaries, in Dutch. In 2007, I read through the handwritten material from the entire 31-year period and then typed the sections that I thought were of the greatest interest to children and grandchildren who were sufficiently familiar with Dutch. I gave printed copies to my siblings who expressed interest in them. An English version of the diary extract was added in December 2020 after a quick translation via Google and a good deal of editing to correct peculiar and sometimes hilarious words and phrases. The document can be accessed here or via the link above.

The remaining 32 files contain scanned versions of the entire content of the seven notebooks in which Dad wrote. They are separated into files for each of the years from 1949 to 1980. Some of the handwriting is difficult to decipher but if you persist you should be able to make sense of it.

Typed extract (Dutch) from diaries 1949 to 1980 

Diary content 1949

Diary content 1950

Diary content 1951

Diary content 1952

Diary content 1953

Diary content 1954

Diary content 1955

Diary content 1956

Diary content 1957

Diary content 1958

Diary content 1959

Diary content 1960

Diary content 1961

Diary content 1962

Diary content 1963

Diary content 1964

Diary content 1965

Diary content 1966

Diary content 1967

Diary content 1968

Diary content 1969

Diary content 1970

Diary content 1971

Diary content 1972

Diary content 1973

Diary content 1974

Diary content 1975

Diary content 1976

Diary content 1977

Diary content 1978

Diary content 1979

Diary content 1980

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