“Good-bye, moon”: completing the Leslie Adkin diary project

“Good-bye, moon”: completing the Leslie Adkin diary project

At the end of the month, a comprehensive digitisation project bringing Leslie Adkin’s diaries to life 100 years later will come to an end. Fiona Moorhead, Collections Information System Manager, wraps up the journey.

Black and white photograph of a group of people sitting in sand dunes, eating and drinking.
Afternoon tea, 26 December 1918, North Island, by Leslie Adkin. Gift of G. L. Adkin family estate, 1964. Te Papa (A.006626)

With valued assistance from volunteer transcribers, over the past five years Te Papa staff have described, photographed, and shared thousands of diary entries by George Leslie Adkin – Horowhenua farmer, photographer, diarist, and self-taught geologist, archaeologist, and ethnologist.

This project focussed on the period 1913 to 1918, and the diary entries provide a first-hand account of ordinary life in New Zealand during World War I. In addition to the diaries, Te Papa’s collection includes thousands of photographs by Leslie Adkin, which often depict events, places and people described in the diaries.

Handwritten diary entry for 26 December 1918
George Leslie Adkin diary entry Thursday 26 December 1918, from George Leslie Adkin personal diary, May 1917-February 1919, by Leslie Adkin. Te Papa (CA000245/001/0009)

During the project, we shared daily excerpts from the diaries on the Twitter account Leslie Adkin’s diary. This gave readers the ability to experience life 100 years ago for Leslie Adkin and his family as it unfolded, day by day. On 31 December 2018, the transcription project will come to an end, and the last tweet will be published.

The tweets, and the diary entries themselves, give a succinct glimpse into momentous and mundane moments in Leslie Adkin’s life during this period. In recent months there’s been a flurry of significant events, from the birth of Leslie and Maud’s second child to the Armistice announcement and effects of the influenza epidemic. Below are some of the recent highlights.


Over the course of this project, more than 2,300 days’ diary entries were transcribed, and excerpts were shared on Twitter. The tweets were also shared on Life 100 Years Ago, a project that shared multiple perspectives of life during World War I.

Although the tweets from Leslie Adkin’s diary will end on 31 December, information about Leslie Adkin, his diaries, photographs, and other items will continue to be accessible on Te Papa’s Collections Online.

If you’re interested to find out more, you can read on here:

Thanks to everyone who made this project possible.


  1. Thanks Fiona for this wrap – and the tremendous support from the Collections Information team on ‘Lesley’ over the last six years – both conceptual and technical! It was really interesting to get the chance to read all of the diary entries and then select the tweets for the ‘Life 100 years Ago’ project. Thanks too to Melissa Bryant and transcribers from Levin and beyond.
    ex-Te Papa History Curator

  2. This is a great effort and a tantalising start on what could be really amazing – to link the diary entries to all the Leslie Adkin photographs Te Papa holds. Adkin frequently describes taking the photographs in the diary entries or at least the circumstances in which they were taken. It’s very rare that you get this sort of commentary, let alone one which spans decades. First step would be to scan the remaining diaries (he was writing them up to his death in 1964) so the transcribing can continue.

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