Our projects deliver previously unavailable content in ways that further research and learning. Working closely with faculty, librarians, archives, and publishers, we develop our databases to the highest academic standards. We painstakingly secure copyrights, digitize the content, index the materials meticulously using semantic fields, add supporting reference and contextual material, and then publish the resulting collections on our award-winning online platform.

Description: 20th Century Advice Literature provides a window into American social history by bringing together the instructional, prescriptive, behavioral, and etiquette literature that defined standards of personal conduct for millions of Americans and reflected the prevailing social mores across the twentieth century. This content is often heavily illustrated, and has been brought together from archives and personal collections from across the United States. Much of the material is classified as ephemeral and was rarely catalogued and preserved by libraries at the time of original publication. Furthermore, many of the handbooks and guides in the collection were produced and distributed by organizations only to their members and so were never collected outside of those groups. This content fell out of date quickly and so now provide very precise snapshots to particular audiences and times. Materials include traditionally published items, including how-to books and guides; professional manuals, such as employee manuals; society publications, including sorority and fraternity pledge manuals and scouting manuals; textbooks that deal with home economics, health and hygiene, and sex education; teacher-training and course manuals; commercial literature that promotes specific behaviors; and government instruction manuals for a variety of workplaces and industries. When complete, the collection will contain 150,000 pages of fully searchable handbooks, manuals, textbooks, etiquette guides, self-help books, instructional pamphlets, and how-to books that illustrate both how Americans actually behaved and how they felt they ought to behave. The collection currently includes 96,001 pages.
Coverage: 20th Century


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Cross-search all of the letters and diaries found in: Black Thought and Culture; The American Civil War: Letters and Diaries; North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories; and North American Women’s Letters and Diaries, as well as keyword search across thousands of collections freely available on the Web. In addition to the subscription databases offered by Alexander Street Press, users will find an in-depth index to nearly 4,000 collections of letters, diaries, oral histories, memoirs, and autobiographies freely available on the web in English from around the world. This index adds access to an additional 700,000 pages of full-text content dating from the 1550s to the present day. As well, it also contains pointers to 4,300 audio and video files and 30,000 bibliographic records on the web.

The PBS Video Collection assembles hundreds of the greatest documentary films and series from the history of PBS into one convenient online interface. The collection presents a rare opportunity for libraries to offer convenient streaming access to the films and series patrons already know and trust: America in Profile, American Experience, Empires, Freedom, Frontline, God in America, Great Performances, History Detectives, NOVA, Odyssey and the films of Ken Burns, Michael Wood, and more.

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Oral History Online provides indexing to almost 2,000 collections of Oral History in English from around the world. The collection also provides keyword searching of more than 129,000 pages of full-text by some 4,300 individuals from all walks of life. Oral History also contains pointers to some 1,400 audio and video files and over 10,000 bibliographic records.

Oral History Online is a landmark database of English language oral histories. It contains at present more than 34,000 pages of full-text content that is available exclusively in Alexander Street Press databases. This full-text material includes Ellis Island oral history narratives and rare Black Panther Party interviews. With each quarterly update of Oral History Online, we will add more of such proprietary (in-copyright) full-text interviews.

Oral History Online is also an index to free oral history information on the Web. Working with archives, repositories and individuals, we've indexed oral histories held by organizations around the world. We create a bibliographic record for each indexed item, and these records contain Alexander Street's Semantic Indexing™, allowing you to search by various fields as well as with keyword searching of every interview. In many instances, your search results will link to full-text, audio, or video. There are more than 100,000 index entries and more than a million tags, to provide an organized structure and in-depth searching to the following:

  • Repositories: For all repositories that collect oral histories we provide a basic record detailing the contact details for that repository, some indication of what the repository contains and - where available - links to the repository Web site. Our goal is to cover every repository in the world that has oral histories in English.
  • Collections: We aim to cover all English language collections held by repositories, archives and institutions of higher learning around the world. We have identified these collections through our editorial board, through oral history associations, and through catalogs and directories.
  • Interviews: Where possible we have included interview level records. These records have been created from records supplied to us by repositories, from re-keying catalogs, and directly by our indexers. In some cases these records contain no more than the narrator name. In other cases we've been able to construct a full 25 field record. The exact level of indexing depends on the material that has been made available to us from the repository that holds the material.
  • Interviews with full-text: In cases where a transcription is available we are able to provide rich, semantic indexing with more than 20 fields of metadata, including the ability to search the text in the same way that Google does. We provide links to collections that are freely held on the Web and selected for-fee collections.
  • Interviews with audio or video: We also indicate the presence of multi-media on external Web sites. Users are led from our indexing directly to external Web sites that contain this material.

Oral History Online is updated on a quarterly schedule.

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Description: North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries, and Oral Histories contains more than 100,000 pages of personal narratives, including letters, diaries, pamphlets, autobiographies, and oral histories. Several thousand pages of Ellis Island Oral History interviews are also included, as are approximately 2,000 political cartoons. The materials begin around 1840 and extend to the present, focusing heavily on the period from 1920 to 1980. People from many countries are represented, including more recent waves of immigrants from Latin America and Asia. In selected cases, users can hear the actual audio voices of the immigrants or view images of their scrapbooks. The database contains descriptions of work in restaurants, meat packing plants, mines, railroads, and factories. And there are lengthy passages describing immigrant schooling, social life, domestic life, and community rituals. Users will also find vivid descriptions of life under the Czar and the various revolutionary governments in Russia; tales of famine and poverty in Ireland; accounts of anti-Jewish pogroms in Eastern Europe; stories of persecution and fascism; and detailed descriptions of life in rural communities and towns as well as in major cities such as London, Berlin, and Moscow. Descriptions of initial encounters with soda pop, chewing gum, and bananas appear alongside reflections on labor conditions, political groups, and attitudes of the authorities. The database thus provides a broad, detailed, and immediate record of the experience of immigration, supporting research in history, sociology, ethnic and diversity studies, women’s studies, labor studies, and literature.
Coverage: Various Dates

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