University of Minnesota
Digitizing Immigrant Letters


DIL Data Visualizations (2014)


Survey conducted as part of the Digitizing Immigrant Letters project (2011)

Dear Colleagues:

Many thanks to those of you who took the time to respond to our request for information about archivists and researchers working on letter-writing in the context of international migrations, 1840-1970. For the past few weeks, we've been busy compiling these responses and we're now in the happy position to share them with you. We hope this will encourage those of you who may not have responded to our earlier request to send along your own responses now. We'll include them in a subsequent update. 

We've learned a lot about the scholarly field in the process of reviewing the information you sent us. Most of you combine research, archival work, and teaching. A very substantial number of you are personally or professionally interested in collecting letters or have identified sources of letters in published form (often in newspapers and magazines published in the emigrants' homelands). Some of you have located letters in official, or state archives. Many of you note that collections of letters are associated with other forms of personal narratives such as memoirs or diaries. We were especially excited to see the wide range of methodologies you use in your research--everything from quantitative analysis to literary and subjectivity studies. A few of you also see the act of collecting letters as a form of community ethnography. 

In order to share the information we've gathered, we've compiled lists of publications (articles and books) on the IHRC's Digitizing Immigrant Letters (DIL) website: Articles Books

We've also compiled a country-by-country list of the archives with which you've worked: Archives

Finally, we would like to call your attention to two other valuable resources on the IHRC website: a page that highlights Calls for Papers for upcoming conferences ( and a second that carries announcements of conferences, institutes, and workshops ( in the field of migration studies.

We'd like to encourage you to send us notices of conferences that will be of interest to our network of scholars and archivists working with migrant letter exchanges, as well as short reports on any past or future attended conferences that you've been a part of, focused on letters and migration.  We'll then include the notices on our webpages with a special note "OF INTEREST TO THE IHRC LETTERS NETWORK" so you can easily identify them.  The conference reports will be compiled and updated here.  Please also feel encouraged to forward us any new publications, which we will continue to add to our bibliography compilations.   

Please feel free to forward this message and the included links to those people that you know would be interested.

Donna Gabaccia, Rudolph J. Vecoli Chair and Director,  Immigration History Research Center
Daniel Necas, Research Archivist
Kelly Condit-Shrestha, Graduate Research Assistant

(February 2012)

Back to Digitizing Immigrant Letters index page.