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Web Watch: Voices From the Past
2/1/2006
In the First Person points you to oral history interviews held in collections worldwide.
Seeking to enliven your family history research with oral histories? Wondering where to find interviews others may have already recorded with your Virginia ancestors or war-veteran relatives? A new free index from Alexander Street Press, In the First Person <www.inthefirstperson.com>, is worth a look.

This “archive of social memory,” which launched in 2005, catalogs oral history materials found on the Web and maintained in repositories worldwide-saving you the trouble of locating each of those resources yourself. As of press time, In the First Person had indexed more than 16,000 interviews, with links to 8,800 full-text and some audio and video versions. Webmasters plan to add letters, diaries and autobiographies in January, with quarterly updates to follow. Additionally, the index will link to more than a half-dozen Alexander Street Press databases, including North American Women's Letters and Diaries, and British and Irish Women's Letters and Diaries. A drawback, however, is that you (or your local library) have to subscribe to these particular databases to access the complete first-person accounts.

Even though the site's still in its early stages, you'll want to get acquainted with its offerings. Begin by clicking Help to read an introduction to the database and search software. Here it recommends three ways to search the database: using the Search Interviews, Find Collections or Table of Contents option.

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