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About Early Experiences in Australasia

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1. About the Database

Early Experiences in Australasia: Primary Sources and Personal Narratives 1788–1901 provides a unique and personal view of events in the region from the arrival of the first settlers through to Australian Federation at the close of the nineteenth century. Through first-person accounts, including letters and diaries, narratives, and other primary source materials, we are able to hear the voices of the time and understand the experiences of those who took the great challenge in new lands.

From the earliest settlers to convicts and free settlers and those who later answered the call of the Gold Rush, these letters and diaries tell us about life on ships and in settlements in a particularly intimate way.

Alexander Street Press has collaborated with libraries across the region to scope and source materials, and special care has been taken to curate a collection that represents a cross section of ideas and experiences. These unique primary-source materials, drawn from archives, have been difficult to access before now. Scholars and students not only gain new access to the items sourced, but can for the first time cross-search personal writings from the time. More than 90 percent of the collection is previously unpublished, fulfilling our specific goal to bring important material to light and to “make silent voices heard.”

The experiences of men and women, settlers and indigenous peoples, explorers, soldiers, and officials can now be discovered through Alexander Street’s deep semantic indexing, letting users explore content by writer, region, audience, personal and historical event, environmental features including fauna and flora, and more. Supporting material such as images, maps, and photographs supplement the first-person narratives and provide additional context.

Incorporating 100,000 pages of letters, diaries, and other narratives, along with additional contextual material, and covering over 100 years of history, Early Experiences in Australasia will be a rich resource to support research, teaching and learning in a wide range of disciplines, including history, ethnology, anthropology, literature, genealogy, local studies, women’s studies, and comparative studies.

Key Features

  • Thousands of unique documents including letters, diaries, and photographs, covering the early Australasian experience.
  • Detailed semantic indexing that allows the sources to be browsed and searched in a variety of ways, by date, person, subject, and more.
  • Sources spanning over 100 years of Australasian history from repositories located across Australia and New Zealand.

2. Cultural Sensitivity

Members of Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander and Maori communities are advised that this catalog contains names and images of deceased people. All users of the catalog should also be aware that certain words, terms or descriptions may be culturally sensitive and may be considered inappropriate today, but may have reflected the author’s/creator’s attitude or that of the period in which they were written.

3. Editorial Policy

Our goal is to create a vast collection of high-quality images that illuminate the personal letters, diaries, and manuscripts detailing the experience of life in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands from 1788-1901.

4. Acknowledgements

At Alexander Street, the following people have been instrumental in the development of the collection:

  • Aaron Wood
  • Andrea Eastman-Mullins
  • Dan Hamid (editor)
  • Daniel Redshaw
  • Devorah Litt
  • Fiona Carr
  • Isabel Lacerda
  • Jessica Kemp
  • JiaJun Zhu
  • Jian(Robin) Zhao
  • Julie Stevens
  • Kimberly Milio
  • Kit Norseth
  • Liza Rossick
  • Lucy Sullivan
  • Margaret Loebe
  • Maria Stanton
  • Mike Kangal
  • Pat Carlson
  • Rebecca Rosenberg
  • Stephanie Garret
  • Stephen Rhind-Tutt
  • Will Whalen

5. Subscription and Free Trial Information

For information on how to gain access to Early Experiences in Australasia: Primary Sources and Personal Narratives 1788–1901, please contact us at Academic institutions and public libraries are encouraged to request a free 30-day trial of this landmark resource.

6. Technical Support

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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.

7. Errata

To report errors or to suggest improvements, please email the Editor at Please include the author, the document, and the page number. Please also include your email address, so that we can let you know the status of your correction.

8. Copyright

All materials in collection are protected under U.S. and International Copyright Law. Fair use under the law permits reproduction of single copies for personal research and private use. Further transmission, reproduction, or presentation of protected items requires the written permission of the copyright owners. For information on the copyright of the freely available materials pointed to by the index, please consult the individual websites.

9. Cataloging Records

MARC records are forthcoming for this collection.