Ego Documents and Heritage Languages
This site contains letter and diary collections, so called ego-documents, in migrational contexts from a diachronic perspective. These documents, written by everyday users of language varieties, not only give us a glimpse into the social aspects of the past, but are also necessary for studying the social history of language. The ego-documents on this site are unique in that they were created in contested, multilingual spaces by heritage language community members. A heritage language is one which is spoken at home, but is not the language of dominant society. Using ego-document corpora, one can trace the changing heritage language across the lifespan and across generations, as well as analyze the role and form of the language of dominant society as it manifests itself in the writings of heritage language community members.
Using the Corpora
These corpora are made available not only to researchers interested in language and social history, but also to the public and, importantly, descendants of heritage language communities. This project is a direct response to the obligation of the University of Wisconsin System to the residents of Wisconsin as stipulated in the Wisconsin Idea. The Wisconsin Idea is defined as "the university's direct contributions to the state: to the government in the forms of serving in office, offering advice about public policy, providing information and exercising technical skill, and to the citizens in the forms of doing research directed at solving problems that are important to the state and conducting outreach activities."
Dr. Josh Brown is associate professor of German and linguistics at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. His academic website can be found here.
 p. 102 in Stark, Jack (1995). "The Wisconsin Idea: The University's Service to the State." In Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau. State of Wisconsin 1995-1996 Blue Book, 100-179. Madison: Wisconsin Legislature Joint Committee on Legislative Organization.