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Information about In the First Person

1. About the Database - Description of the contents and methodology used to create and maintain the database.
2. Editorial Policy - Detailed criteria for selection and submission of materials.
3. Submissions and Participation - This describes how you can post letters, diaries and oral histories directly to the database
4. Software Requirements - Notes on which browsers are supported.
5. Technical Support - Whom to contact for technical support.
6. Terms of Use - Terms and conditions for use of material.
7. Errata - Known typographical and software errors to be fixed next release.
8. Copyright Statement - Copyright terms and conditions.

1.   About the Database


In the First Person is a landmark index to English language personal narratives, including letters, diaries, memoirs, autobiographies, and oral histories. Working with archives, repositories, publishers, and individuals we've indexed first person narratives from hundreds of published volumes—those that are publicly available on the Web and those that are held by repositories and archives around the world. Our intent is to make it possible to find and explore the voices of more than 300,000 individuals.

The index covers both free and commercial subscription sites, so allowing users to conduct comprehensive searches across proprietary companion collections as well as free collections.  Users can perform in-depth field and keyword searches across letters, diaries, oral histories, memoirs, and autobiographies within Alexander Street Press databases—more than one million pages of editorially selected materials spanning 400 years. The index also applies the same extensive search tools to scholarly materials that are freely available on the Web. With a single search, users can perform keyword searches across thousands of personal narratives from the English-speaking world.

The index itself is built by a combination of human indexers and software developers.  We've developed a series of programs that allow us to identify web sites that meet our editorial criteria.  The material is then indexed manually according to some 20 different controlled vocabularies.  This index provides a permanent, citable record of what oral histories, letters, diaries and personal narratives exist.  We endeavor to ensure our links to these materials are maintained both manually and programmatically, though some 'link rot' is inevitable. Please let us know if you discover broken links.

In a future release we will create a community space for individuals, scholars, and institutions to publish directly into the database.  Registered users can load files and copy text directly into the database.  The materials will be immediately available for quick searches and browsing within the community space.  Once they've been vetted by our editors they'll be included in all tables of contents and within the full database.

The most comprehensive archive of social memory yet created, In the First Person is a one-stop starting point for historians, sociologists, genealogists, linguists, and psychologists who want to find, explore, and analyze human experiences. The stories of diverse groups and ordinary people from all walks of life can at last be heard alongside those of the well-published and famous. And, the public voices we hear in print and in the media reveal the more honest and personal accounts of their lives.

In the First Person is updated on a quarterly schedule. 

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2.   Editorial Policy

The following paragraphs describe the criteria for submissions to In the First Person. The purpose of the database is to provide a single, authoritative index to personal narratives in English from around the world to 1990.

  • The database is for personal narratives as evidenced in letters, diaries, oral histories, interviews, memoirs and autobiographies and similar formats.  Items must be personal in nature. We're looking for materials that describe people, places, and events.  We plan to exclude business correspondence, professional interviews, political speeches and other materials.
  • Items must be written in the first person. Letters, diaries, oral histories, and autobiographies are prime examples. The materials should have been created in paper, audio, or video format before 1995.  The intention of the database is to provide historical rather than current narratives.
  • The materials should have been produced according to accepted guidelines, such as those published by the American Oral History Association. In all cases releases must have been secured from any participants. We encourage anyone who believes that the database includes materials that have been produced without the permission of the narrator or that infringe personal rights or copyrights in any way to report this to us.
  • Items must be submitted with sufficient bibliographic information to ensure verification.  This is intended to ensure that materials submitted to us are authentic.  In cases of materials submitted by professional staff from accredited institutions we will accept minimal bibliographic information.  For materials submitted by lay people we ask for as much detail as possible and prefer facsimiles to accompany any text.
  • The materials should detail clearly the narrator, the original source, the date of creation, the format of creation, the place of creation, the current holder and any publication history and (if applicable) the speaker sufficient to enable independent verification.
  • Materials submitted to us will be immediately available for text searching.  They will also be marked as 'unverified'.  Once they've been reviewed and accepted into the database by one of our editors the materials will be fully integrated into the database and will be available through Tables of Contents.
  • We seek materials that are held by and can be verified by museums, archives, and educational institutions. At the discretion of our editors and in cases where the material is of outstanding value, we will include materials from individuals and other parties.

Alexander Street reserves the right to remove any materials at its sole discretion.

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3.   Submissions and Participation

In the First Person invites you to participate by letting us know of your collections of personal narratives, by letting us host materials you may own, and by letting us know your thoughts and suggestions for future improvements.

a)  Why participate?

  • Do you know of voices that need to be heard?  Individual voices can be lost in the enormous world of the internet.  However, by placing them in the database they speak together to facilitate research on thousands of different topics.  In the First Person brings together the personal stories of thousands of individuals and presents them in a single unified way, and makes them easy to search.
  • Links from the database to your material or inclusion of your materials directly will increase usage. Universities, colleges, schools and other academic institutions around the country link directly to this site, so bringing tens of thousands of students to find and study your materials.  We can index and drive traffic to your site, or we can load and host your materials.  Either way more people will find and use your materials more frequently.
  • We make the materials authoritative: We only accept materials that meet the editorial criteria listed above.
  • It's free: We index and link to existing free sites for free.  We host free sites for free.  We support the site from the sales we make of for fee collections and from advertising.

b)  How to participate?

Firstly, please make sure the materials you wish to submit fit our Editorial Criteria listed above.  If they do then we have the following methods to allow you to submit them for publication.

  • Sign up as a registered user and you'll be able to post materials directly to the site in our community space.
  • You can scan materials and e-mail them to us.  Please follow the instructions here.
  • You can scan materials to CD-ROM and mail them to our editors at the following address: Editor, 3212 Duke St., Alexandria, VA 22314.  Please note we do not accept materials in paper format.  Please follow the instructions here.

c) What kinds of materials do we support?

      From Individuals

  • Scanned letters, diaries, memoirs and personal scrapbooks in image form.  Ideally the images should be accompanied by transcriptions.
  • Oral Histories in mp3 format.  Ideally the images should be accompanied by transcriptions.

    From Accredited Institutions (Libraries, Schools, Archives, Museum)

  • Scanned or transcribed letters, diaries, memoirs, and personal scrapbooks in ASCII, image, Word, PDF, form.
  • Oral Histories transcribed or in mp3 format.
  • Lesson Plans

If you have more than 50 narratives or narratives of exceptional value, please contact us directly to discuss their publication.

d)  What we do with the materials submitted to us?

Materials mailed or e-mail to us will be reviewed and, provided they meet editorial criteria, will be posted as schedules allow.

Materials posted directly by registered users to In the First Person are held in the 'recently submitted materials' section.   Periodically our editors review this section.  Materials that fit our editorial criteria are then indexed and prepared for formal inclusion in the database.  Materials that do not fit our editorial criteria are removed.

Suggestions for links are reviewed and - if found to meet our editorial criteria - then these sites are indexed as schedules allow.

e)   Copyright

By submitting materials to Alexander Street you grant Alexander Street Press, LLC a non-exclusive, worldwide license to distribute them.  Alexander Street Press promises to identify you as the copyright holder.  You retain copyright.

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4.   Software Requirements

This database is designed to operate with Netscape Navigator Version 1.2 or higher or Microsoft Explorer 7.0 or higher.  Certain functionality will only work with Netscape 4.0 and Internet Explorer 7.0 and higher.

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5.   Technical Support

You can contact us by:

When reporting a problem please include your customer name, e-mail address, phone number, domain name or IP address and that of your web proxy server if used.

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6.   Terms of Use

1.  AUTHORIZED USE: Users are granted permission to use the content in way that is consistent with U.S. Fair Use Provisions and international law; for more extended use, the Customer must obtain prior consent in writing from Alexander Street Press or the archives and repositories holding the content.

2. RESTRICTIONS: Users may not decompile or reverse engineer the database; modify or create a derivative work; remove, obscure, or modify copyright notices; sell, distribute or commercially exploit the database.

3. CUSTOMER SUPPORT:  For users who are librarians or faculty members at academic institutions or public libraries, Alexander Street Press will offer reasonable levels of continuing support via email, phone or fax, during normal business hours, for feedback, problem-solving, or general questions. Any technical assistance that ASP may provide to the user is provided at the sole risk of the user.

4. INDEMNIFICATION: Alexander Street Press and the user shall indemnify and hold the other harmless for any losses, claims, damages, awards, penalties, or injuries incurred by any third party, including reasonable attorney's fees, which arise from any alleged breach of such indemnifying party's representations and warranties made under this Agreement, provided that the indemnifying party is promptly notified of any such claims.

5. ENFORCEABILITY BY CONTENT PROVIDERS: The content providers (those who submit content to the site or who are linked to by Alexander Street Press) retain their rights to enforce their trademarks, copyrights, patents, trade secrets and other rights against any violation thereof.

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7.   Errata

Our goal is to have no errors in this database.   To this end we are interested in hearing about any errors you may find.  Please e-mail the address at the bottom of the page.

Below are known errors in this release of the database which will be rectified in the next release.

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8.   Copyright

This database is an index to materials found freely on the web. The index itself is the copyright of Alexander Street Press, LLC. For information on the copyright of the materials the database points to please see the individual websites.

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