The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Happy Twitterversary JQA!

John Quincy Adams (JQA) had a remarkable life and over the course of almost 70 years assembled an extraordinary number of diaries.  JQA began keeping a diary in 1779 at the age of twelve and continued writing diary entries until shortly before his death in 1848.  All in all, his diary entries fill 51 volumes, over 14,000 pages.  JQA’s diaries are part of the Adams Family Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS).  MHS shares this American treasure in many ways:

By making page images of the entire set of diary volumes available

By making the Adams Papers Editorial Project’s authoritative transcriptions of JQA’s diary entries for 1779-1788 available as part of the Adams Papers Digital Edition

By tweeting his succinct line-a-day diary entries about his life 200 years ago via a Twitter account

The diaries are important because they share the life and thoughts of a man who held many important public offices and interacted with many world figures.  John F. Kennedy summarized JQA’s significance this way:

John Quincy Adams—until his death at eighty in the Capitol—held more important offices and participated in more important events than anyone in the history of our nation, as Minister to the Hague, Emissary to England, Minister to Russia, head of the American Mission to negotiate peace with England, Minister to England, Secretary of State, President of the United States and member of the House of Representatives.  He figured, in one capacity or another, in the American Revolution, the War of 1812 and the prelude to the Civil War. Among the acquaintances and colleagues who march across the pages of his diary are Sam Adams (a kinsman), John Hancock, Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, Lafayette, John Jay, James Madison, James Monroe, John Marshall, Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, Thomas Hart Benton, John Tyler, John C. Calhoun, Daniel Webster, Lincoln, James Buchanan, William Lloyd Garrison, Andrew Johnson, Jefferson Davis and many others. (John F. Kennedy, Profiles in Courage, NY: 1956, pages 35-36.)

John Quincy Adams often kept several different types of diary volumes simultaneously, and for many dates there are several entries—long entries, short entries, lists, draft entries, and also “line-a-day” entries.  The line-a-day entries are short --the words describing one day fit on one handwritten line, and each page contains entries for one month.  These succinct summaries of JQA’s activities fit within Twitter’s 140-character limit and in on 5 August 2009 MHS began tweeting JQA’s line-a-day diary entries 200 years after the day he described. 

We enjoy hearing from JQA’s followers and thought we’d share a few tweets that we’ve received via the JQA Twitter account:  

@JQAdams_MHS I look forward to the tweets every morning. :) I feel as if I actually know him. lol.   [From Susan T. @marypoppins68 9:41 AM - 19 Jul 13]

@JQAdams_MHS has been dead for 165 years and he still tweets more than most people I know. [From Sean Junkins  @sjunkins 5:04 AM - 15 Jun 13]

@JQAdams_MHS it is amazing that these entries can be so old and still stir such emotion. This project has really humanized JQA for me.   [From JD Miller @jdudemill 7:18 AM - 15 Sep 12]



permalink | Published: Monday, 5 August, 2013, 1:00 AM


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