On January 1st, the Museum of London Docklands published, on its website, the first transcribed entry from the diary of Oscar Kirk, which he kept whilst he was employed as a messenger boy in London’s docks from January to July 1919. The first entry dates back to Wednesday January 1st, 1919. Until July, the museum will publish each of Kirk’s diary entries on a daily basis.
Oscar Kirk was born in Poplar, London, close to the West India docks in 1904. He started to work in the West and East India Docks ferrying messages and mail between different docks and Port of London Authority offices in 1918, when he was 14. He later became a Clerical Assistant in the West India Dock and took part in the General Strike in 1926. When he retired in 1968, he was a Senior Foreman at the North Quay Warehouse (where the Museum of London Docklands is now housed). Oscar Kirk died in 1980.
His diary for the first half of 1919 has survived and is currently on display in the Sainsbury's Study Centre at the museum. Alongside his daily diary entries, Oscar Kirk also kept a record of the books he read and listed the items that made up his uniform for work.
Further information is available on the website of the Museum of London Docklands. It is also possible to follow each of the daily diary entries on Twitter.
We reported, yesterday, on the recent apology by Chilean president, Michelle Bachelet, for the mistreatment of indigenous peoples in 19th century Chile. The remains of five members of the Kawesqar Indian tribe from Tierra del Fuego, who were transported to Europe to be exhibited in human zoos, were returned to Chile on Tuesday January 12th. An article in Der Spiegel provides further information on the human zoos that flourished in Europe at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th and features pictures of the five members of the tribe.
Jane Macartney reports in The Times on the recent decision in China to preserve a cemetery filled with bodies of Red Guards who were killed during China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-76). The Chinese government granted the cemetery the status of a ‘cultural relic’ and issued an order to protect it. The graveyard is situated in Chongquing, a major city in central western China, and contains 131 tombstones, under which 537 bodies are buried. At least 40 per cent of the dead are believed to be Red Guards. It is the only officially sanctioned memorial in China to those who died during Mao’s leadership.