Guide for Directory Users


Listings and articles in the Life Writing Directory are stored and organized in an online database. The controls for accessing information from the database are in the gray panel to the right, visible on every page of this site. The five most recent entries in the database are always listed at the top. There are several methods of sifting or sorting through all entries.

By Searching

If you are interested in life writing on certain subjects or themes, simply type your keywords in the SEARCH field in the database control panel. The search function will return every listing, titled by the author’s name, which mentions the keywords. Click the author’s name to see the full details of the listing. Use your browser back button to return to the result list.

By Sort Category

You may also be interested in reviewing listings by type of writing: Autobiography/Memoir or Journals, Diaries, and Notebooks or Letters. Click the corresponding link in the control panel to see all listings categorized within a specific type. The “Gender” category can be sorted in the same way.

If you want to see all listings where the authors’ last names begin with a certain letter, click the letter in the “Last Name” section on the sidepanel.

Results from any of the above searches or sortings will appear as an alphabetical list in batches of 10. Navigation buttons to the next or previous 10 will appear at the bottom of each batch, if appropriate.

By Browsing

Of course, one can just browse all the listings from start to finish. Do that by clicking the “Listings” link under SORT on the control panel at the right.

For Advanced Users

You can subscribe to our syndication feed to be kept apprised of the latest directory activity, including new listings.

Field Descriptions

Each listing contains the following fields:

  • Name and Id#: The listings are titled with the name of the author and an Id#. The name of the author of the writing is usually, but not always, the same as the contact person listed. Please include the Id# when corresponding with the LWC about any listing. There may be more than one listing under the same name.
  • Subjects: As supplied by the listee.
  • Writing Description: As supplied by the listee.
  • Writing Type: We classify each listing as either 1. Autobiography/Memoir (Auto/Mem), 2. Journals, Diaries, and Notebooks (JDN), or 3. Letters.
  • Gender
  • Birth Year
  • Death Year
  • Occupation and Interests: These pertain to the author of the writings.
  • Age(s): The age(s) of the author at the time of the writings, or the age(s) covered in a memoir.
  • Author Location(s): Where the author lived at the time of the writings.
  • Writing Location(s): If different from Author Location, what places the writings concern, mention or describe.
  • Dates: The time range covered in the writings.
  • Handwritten: “Yes,” if handwritten.
  • Typed: “Yes,” if typed.
  • Digital: “Yes,” if digitized.
  • Self-published: “Yes,” if self-published. (Note: writings available for purchase online or fully available for reading on the Internet are not eligible for listing.)
  • Number of Pages, etc.: Also includes other noteworthy physical characteristics of the form in which the writing exists.
  • Contact Person: The person authorized to respond to requests for information concerning a listing. Usually, but not always, this is the author.
  • Contact Person/Author Relationship: Relative, surviving spouse, friend, etc., or “same” if the contact person is the author.
  • Address: Mailing address of contact person. Or, if the LWC is acting as initial contact, a link is provided to our contact form.
  • Phone: Of contact person.
  • Email: Of contact person.
  • Date Entered: Date the listing was first entered into the Life Writing Directory database.
  • Date Revised/Confirmed: Date of last change or approval.


Some terms used on this site:

  • Directory/Database: We use these terms interchangeably for the most part. The “database,” strictly speaking, is the online version of the directory. It will always be more current than the printed version, which must be supplemented as new listings appear. (Please contact us for more information about the printed version, if you are interested.)
  • Contact Person: This is the person who is in current possession of the writings and with whom you will usually communicate in order to obtain copies of the writings you wish to read. This person is ordinarily, but not always, also the author of the writings.
  • Listee: Someone who has placed a listing in this directory, usually also the author of the listed writings.
  • User: Anyone who consults the directory/database, such as yourself.