Access Database

To learn more about how to use the African Letters Project Database, please see the page “Navigating the African Letters Project Database”

To learn more about the collections, organizations, and people included in the African Letters Project Database, please see the page “What’s in the Database?”


Publication of Images and Copyright Notice 

Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) states that all copyright owners can send a notification to a website owner to take down or remove content on websites not owned by the website owner.   

The digital images linked to in the African Letters Project database are owned by the archives which provided and/or allowed the images for private use of individuals in classrooms or research and are NOT for publication usage. If a user wishes to publish an image from the database collection (whether in print or in a digital format) they must contact the home archive of that collection. “Home archive” is defined as the institution which holds physical rights to the original letters as part of their intuitional holdings. The home archives are identifiable by the first three letters in the image code in the database. For example, in an image code: ARC.MSK.S2.B45.F89.P1 – the archive code ARC denotes the image is derived from a collection at the Amistad Research Center. Thus, for the publication of images in any format, permission must be received from the home archive and/or copyright holders.  

Individuals who believe they are the copyright holder of a letter (such as a descendant of a letter writer) and wish for the image of a letter to be removed from availability on the website, a takedown notice should be sent to Elisabeth McMahon ( If copyright is confirmed, the image of the letter will be removed, however, the letter itself will continue to be available for in-person public viewing at the home archive. The access policies of home archives and their agreements with donors govern such access because they are the physical owners of the letters. 

Takedown notices should include information documenting the writer’s claim to be the copyright holder for that particular letter and an explanation of why it should be removed. In conjunction with the home archive, the website owner will respond in a timely manner to all takedown notices.