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North American Women's Letters and Diaries: Home

What is North American Women's Letters and Diaries?

"North American Women's Letters and Diaries includes the immediate experiences of 1,325 women and 150,000 pages of diaries and letters. Particular care has been taken to index this material so that it can be searched more thoroughly than ever before.  The materials have been carefully chosen using leading bibliographies, supplemented by customer requests and more than 7,000 pages of previously unpublished material. The collection also includes biographies and an extensive annotated bibliography of the sources in the database."--from the database homepage

Material within the database range from correspondence and diaries of the common woman to the rich and famous.  It covers from the early colonial era (1600s) up to 1950.  Some post-1950 material is included if it is part of collection that began earlier.  Included items are indexed not only by author and date, but also historical events, life events, and places.  You can search both letters and diaries or just one of the categories.  North American Women's Letters and Diaries also features a showcase of scanned diaries/collections.

Letters and diaries within the database contains either transcriptions or scans of the text.

Searching the Database

North American Women's Letters and Diaries makes finding what you need easy.  There are many ways to search.


  • Authors
    • Provides an alphabetical listing of included author alphabetically by last name.  It also breaks down the content they wrote and hyperlinks to those lists.  If the author has a biography linked, it is listed as well.
  • Sources
    • Lists the books contain material in the database and links to the material after clicking on the title.
  • Years
    • List sources by years; within years, the lists are by month and day.
  • Places
    • Lists the places where material was written in alphabetical order.
  • Historical Events
    • Lists the historical events and battles material was written during.
  • Personal Events
    • Lists personal events, like weddings and childbirth, material was written about.
  • Showcase
    • Features scanned material in the database.


  • Sources
    • This search is an advanced search for the same material in "Browse Sources."  It can be search by author, title, editor, year, etc.
  • Authors
    • This is an advanced search for the same material in the "Browse Authors."  It can be searched by author, nationality, dates, personal statuses (e.g. familial state), etc.


  • Simple
    • The Simple Search allows searching by author, year written, document type, and subject heading.
  • Diaries
    • The Diaries Search an advanced search for just the material within the diaries.
  • Letters
    • The Letter Search is an advanced search for just the material within the letters.
  • Advanced
    • The Advanced Search searches both letters and diaries for over twenty fields.  Not all fields have to be used.  Search options include ages, names, material status, number of children, nationality,  events, places written, and more.

Other Databases by Alexander Street Press

These databases by Alexander Street Press work the same way as the North American Women's Letters and Diaries. They feature many of the same search fields and methods.

Similar Material

Besides North American Women's Letters and Diaries, there are other great sources for primary resources.  Humanities librarian Rachel Brekhus put together a wonderful guide which compiled these.


Created by:

Amy C. Nickless

Graduate Reference Assistant, 2010-2012