Welcome to the LWC — Home of the Life Writing Directory

The LWC is not currently taking new listings, but the registry is still usable as it’s presented here.

The Life Writing Connection (LWC) is a resource for facilitating access to copies of unpublished, privately-held life writings—journals, diaries, letters, autobiographies, and memoirs—written by 20th century Americans. The mission of the LWC is to make these life writings available for reading—writings that might otherwise remain unknown, unread, and perhaps ultimately lost or destroyed. The LWC fulfills this mission by maintaining an online directory of listings of life writing for public access. Through registration and readers’ support and appreciation, these writings can be kept alive. To read the work is to preserve it, and in building this bridge between writer and reader, the Life Writing Connection brings them both the opportunity of granting the work new and extended life.

Browse the listings!

What is the Life Writing Directory?

Tarragon by Deborah DeWit MarchantThe Life Writing Directory is an online registry of unpublished, privately-held American life writings from the 20th century written in English by people from all walks of life. The writings listed in the directory/database reflect a wide variety of perspectives, subjects, themes and experiences. The directory also lists self-published books of life writing not commercially available. By collecting and publishing information about these writings in an annotated directory that may be used by researchers or anyone interested in life writing, the LWC helps readers gain access to copies of personal writings that have remained, until now, a hidden wealth of life experience. (For more information about the directory, please see information pages for Users and Listees.)

Please note: The LWC does not publish or store life writings.

How do I use the directory?

You may search every word of the directory for any term or terms of interest to you. The directory/database may also be sorted by type of life writing (Autobiography/Memoir or Journals, Diaries, and Notebooks or Letters), by gender, and alphabetically by the last name of the listee. The Search and Sort functions are visible on the sidebar at the right. In your search results on the screen, click a name to see the full information for that listing.

Each listing in the directory includes specific information about the writing and its author as well as the contact information necessary to gain access to copies of the work. (Note: in some cases, at the request of the listee, the LWC will serve as the initial go-between.)

For more information about using the directory, see the “Guide for Directory Users.”

Is it free?

The information in the directory listings is freely available on this site. If you would like to purchase a printed version of the directory listings assembled in a three-ring binder, please contact us or print, complete, and mail in the Information Request Form.

How do I register my writing in the directory?

To place a listing, a form needs to be completed and returned to the LWC. Listee forms and guidelines can be printed from here or requested by mail from the LWC (see the Information Request Form). Currently there is no fee for placing a listing in the directory.

Who is behind the LWC?

The LWC was co-founded by writer and publisher Olivia Dresher and author and retired academic Audrey Borenstein. Olivia is the director of the LWC and editor of the Life Writing Directory (her publishing company, Impassio Press, sponsors the LWC project). Audrey is consultant to the LWC. As long-time devotées of reading, writing and preserving journals and letters, Olivia and Audrey are working together to create a new way to bring our national treasury of life writing to light.

Read “Saving Words: Old Letters and Journals,” an essay on life writing by Audrey Borenstein.


Banner image: Tarragon by Deborah DeWit Marchant
Site Design: Victor Muñoz, based on the WordPress theme Crimson Sunrise