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North American Women's Letters and Diaries is the largest collection of women's diaries and correspondence ever assembled. Spanning more than 300 years, brings the personal experiences of some 1,325 women to researchers, students, and general readers.
The uses for the collection will be many and varied. For historians, sociologists, students of literature, researchers in genealogy, and others, North American Women's Letters and Diaries will prove a dramatic new resource. These diaries bring us much more than the personal. They provide a detailed record of what women wore, the conditions under which they worked, what they ate, what they read, and how they amused themselves. We can see how frequently they attended church, how they viewed their connection to God, and how they prayed. We can explore their relationships with lovers and family and friends. William Matthews, an early scholar in this field, observed:
"I believe the diary to be a unique kind of writing; all other forms of writing envisage readers, and so are adapted to readers, by interpretation, order, simplification, rationalization, omission, addition, and the endless devices of exposition . . . [diaries] are in general the most immediate, truthful, and revealing documents available. . ."
The collection includes some 150,000 pages of published letters and diaries from individuals writing from Colonial times to 1950, including more than 6,000 pages of previously unpublished materials. Drawn from more than 600 sources, including journal articles, pamphlets, newsletters, monographs, and conference proceedings, much of the material is in copyright. Represented are all age groups and life stages, all ethnicities, many geographical regions, the famous and the not so famous. It includes some 300 biographies to enhance the use of the database.
North American Women's Letters and Diaries aims to cover all published material and as large a number of unpublished materials as copyright and cost will allow. The contents have been selected from the bibliographies listed below as well as other sources.
The historic New York Times provides researchers and scholars with online, easily-searchable first-hand accounts and unparalleled coverage of the politics, society and events of the time. It provides search capability using subject terms and topics for focused and targeted results in combination with searchable full text, full page, and article-level images from the Historical New York Times.
ProQuest Congressional is especially useful for performing legislative histories and locating Congressional documents. It is also very useful for tracking legislation and major public policy issues, locating recent Congressional documents and related material in full text, and learning more about Congress and the legislative process.
ProQuest Congressional provides comprehensive indexing and abstracting of Congressional publications, CIS legislative histories, and bill tracking. It includes the full text of Congressional reports, documents, prints, bills, the Congressional Record, selected testimony in hearings before Congress, Public laws, Statutes at Large, the United States Code Service, the Federal Register, the Code of Federal Regulations, and the National Journal. It also provides information about members of Congress, Congressional committees, and recent legislative activities and public policy issues in the news.
The online collection is growing to include 5,000 individual volumes, with 650,000 pages and more than a million images. Each book tells a small piece of American history. But when researched together with Alexander Street's Semantic Indexing, the collection becomes a massive and powerful primary-source research tool, a tapestry of the places and people that have made America.
For Scholarship, Study, and Personal Research
For academic scholarship, the collection will have broad departmental relevance, showing the personal stories and photos of immigrants, laborers, and newsmakers; documenting the local architecture of homes and businesses; showing images of racism and tolerance; delivering history as observed in real time. The photos are from historical societies, archives, and private collections. The texts are written by local historians—people with deep and personal knowledge of their communities. In many instances, the authors are protagonists in the historical events they describe, with family photographs, primary documents, and other materials that are inaccessible outside of these publications.
Examples of academic disciplines served include:
Sports history, recreation—Major leagues, local teams, and their influences on communities: Metro Detroit Boxing; Gold in the Ozarks; Central Park Zoo; New York City Vaudeville; New York Giants; Hockey in Providence
Architecture and urban studies—How spaces were used in the past: Lost Ann Arbor; Cemeteries Around Lake Winnipesaukee; Railroad Depots of West Central Ohio
Race and gender—Italians in Detroit; Jewish Community of North Minneapolis; The Chinese Community of Stockton; An Oral History of Tahlequah and The Cherokee Nation
Labor and organizational history—Army, Coast Guard, canal workers, nurses, police departments, fire departments, unions, factory conditions: Firefighting in Frederick; Fairchild Aircraft; The Long Island Railroad; Straub Brewery; WNAX 570 Radio
War—New Hampshire in the Civil War; Cincinnati: The World War II years
Religion—The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh
New Tools for Search and Discovery
Alexander Street has indexed the books using a new thesaurus created specifically for this collection. Places, people, dates, events, architectural features, and ethnicities are some of the index terms, making searches such as these easy:
Find African American schools in DeKalb County, Georgia.
Find pictures of coal miners in Kentucky and Virginia from 1900 to 1950.
Find examples of neocolonial architecture in the Northeast and Southwest.
Find pictures and descriptions of college football games in Nebraska in the 1950s.
Find depictions of the Irish American community in Youngstown, Ohio. In all of the Midwest. Compared to the Italian-American communities in these areas.
Find Jewish butchers in Chicago in the 1920s.