The calendar entry in Winston Churchill’s engagement diary—written in italicized shorthand and faded black ink—reads: “6:00 Gen. Sikorski (Private Door).”
The date: Nov. 14, 1939. Churchill is first lord of the Admiralty, a position he will hold for a scant eight months before becoming British prime minister. Władysław Sikorski is prime minister of the Polish government-in-exile. World War II is 75 days old.
The entry is one of thousands in Churchill’s planner, which covers his daily schedule from 1939-45 and is the subject of a GW Libraries digital history project. GW is crowdsourcing the transcription of the diary, inviting public contributors to help digitize entries.
A GW history class is assisting with that effort under the direction of Jennifer Bertolet, CCAS MA ’95, PhD ’07, a visiting professor in the history department. In addition to transcribing and reviewing material, students in Professor Bertolet’s digital history course will pull data—including dates, times, and locations that show patterns and rhythms in Churchill’s daily activities—and map it visually.