Notebooks, Diaries, Journals, and the Publication Manuscript


(It can get confusing and it can get very boring, but it is important to know the terminology if you really want to understand our descriptions of Bruff’s drawings. We are happy to excuse you if you get bored with this.)

The following images show three of Bruff's
notebooks, scaled proportionally
to actual sizes.


Pocket notebook

The Beinecke

A diary


Journal notebook

The Beinecke

A journal notebook



The Beinecke

A miscellanea notebook

“Notebooks” and “Pocket Notebooks”

Bruff took a number of notebooks with him on his great adventure, and he always carried one of his smaller “pocket notebooks” with him as he walked along the road to California. He stored other notebooks in the wagon, packed with his clothing and other personal belongings.

In our descriptions, “notebooks” is a general term, meaning about the same as we know the word today, except that Bruff's notebooks were all bound, like the hardcover books of today.


As he walked, Bruff would make notes in his pocket notebook — notes about the scenery he saw, the events he witnessed, and the people he met. The pocket notebooks became his “diary.”

A “diary” then was much as we think of it today. For historians diaries are very important because they represent information about events as it was recorded when the happened, and scenes as first seen.


When the company camped for the night, Bruff would take one of the larger notebooks that had remained packed during the day, and would transcribe the notes of the day into that notebook, expanding them with added detail, and making them more readable. These notebooks became a “journal” that described his adventures.

“Journals” are better written than diaries (usually) and typically contain more information than diaries. However, historians are wary of journals because they are written after the fact, which means the errors of fading memories come into play. Plus, journals usually contain “hearsay” information, biases, or the author’s justifications of his or her actions.

Recap: “Diaries” and “Journals”

Thus, during his adventure Bruff made two records of his adventures: first his diary (the notes and sketches he recorded in his pocket notebooks); then his journal (his diaries rewritten and expanded with memories and what Bruff heard from others).

“Publication Manuscript”

After his return home, in June of 1851, Bruff did not just pack and forget the notebooks that contained his diary and his journal. Using the contents of these notebooks, he prepared a third description of his adventures a manuscript for publication.

The “publication manuscript” was really another journal, rewritten with additional memory of two years between the events and his preparation of the manuscript. We label this as the “publication manuscript” to distinguish it from the notebooks we are calling his “journal.” An important distinction between the diary and journal, and the publication manuscript is that the diary and journal were written while he was on his adventure, the publication manuscript was written at least a year or two after he had returned home.

“The Diary,” the “Journal,” the “Publication Manuscript” and the “Notebooks”

Bruff's diary actually consisted of a number of notebooks in which he recorded his on-site impressions; his journals as well actually consisted of a number of notebooks. His publication manuscript was handwritten on large unbound sheets of paper.

Where Bruff’s Drawings Fit Into All This

Bruff drew in his diary notebooks and in his journal notebooks. In two larger “miscellanea” notebooks, he also drew a large number of drawings revised from his diary drawings; drawings equivalent to those in his journals. And, when he was preparing his publication manuscript, he drew additional drawings, creating a “publication portfolio” on separate sheets of paper, to be given to an engraver to illustrate his published work.

In our publications of Bruff’s drawings (and in this web site, as needed), we distinguish one version of a drawing depicting a scene or event from another version, by placing a version notation after the drawing title. The notation “[v1]” identifies a drawing drawn in a diary; “[v2]” identifies a drawing in a journal or a miscellanea notebook; “[v3]” a drawing in the publication portfolio; and “[v4]” a watercolor in the publication portfolio.

Ah, yes! A Confession”

It is actually not a simple as has just been described. (Nothing is simple where Bruff is concerned.) His diaries are not all like the small one shown above; nor are all his journals. He used notebooks of different sizes as he needed. And we today do not have all of the notebooks Bruff used — in historians’ language, not all of Bruff’s journals are “extant.” So we often have a [v2] drawing with no precedent [v1] drawing, or a [v3] drawing with no precedent [v2] drawing. Plus there are other interesting relationships between drawings and notebooks, the explanations for which require more space than is available here. Sorry, wait for the book.