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Steven Stowe

In an attic or an online archive, coming across personal correspondence and diaries can open a tantalizing window into past lives. This guide offers an overview of letters and diaries as historical sources and how historians use them, tips on what questions to ask when reading these personal texts, an annotated bibliography, and a guide to finding and using letters and diaries online. Steven Stowe teaches history at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is the author of Intimacy and Power in the Old South (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987) and, most recently, editor of A Southern Practice: The Diary and Autobiography of Charles A. Hentz, M.D. (University Press of Virginia, 2000).

Published online July 2002. Cite as: Steven Stowe, "Making Sense of Letters and Diaries," History Matters: The U.S. Survey Course on the Web, http://historymatters.gmu.edu/mse/letters/, July 2002.