Frequently Asked Questions

Contributing Partnership with the Indian Papers Project

In an effort to further its goal of increasing public access to primary source materials and enhanced academic discourse regarding New England Native American history, the Indian Papers Project at Yale University seeks to form partnerships with interested holding institutions, cultural heritage organizations, or native communities.  These partnerships can take a number of forms and often are tailored to the specific needs and concerns of the prospective partners.  Below are some of the most frequently asked questions regarding such partnerships.

Is there a cost to join the Indian Papers Project partnership?

         No, membership in the Project’s Contributing Partnership Program is free.

Does my institution need to be a partner in order to gain access to material in the database?

  No, access to the web interface/database ( is free and not contingent on partnership.

Does partnership affect my institution’s copyright over our material?

No, partnering institutions retain the copyright of their material and any associated images. The Project retains copyright of value added transcriptions, annotations and commentary.

Is copyright information readily available with each image?

Information regarding copyright and use, as well as, a link to the partnering institution, cultural heritage organizations or native communities is associated with each record .

Does my institution have to relinquish custody of the material, i.e. does our material ever leave our possession?

With respect to digitization, in most cases material does not leave the partnering institution.  Many institutions have digital imaging capabilities (scanners or cameras) and prefer for their staff to perform the imaging in-house.  If materials are already digitized, copies can be delivered to us electronically. In certain circumstances, our staff can image the material on site. Imaging specifications can be discussed. 

How does partnership benefit my institution?

Partnership provides your institution with the opportunity to be an integral part of a dynamic, international scholarly editing project and research initiative.  By including your materials in the Project’s New England Indian Papers Series (NEIPS) database the public and research community becomes more aware of your institution’s valuable collections.  Links associated with the images direct researchers to your institution’s website.

The Project is exploring the ability to provide partner institutions, cultural heritage organizations, or native communities with a link to a document’s image and transcription to be put on the partner’s online catalogue.  Users there can seamlessly view a document and read it on the Project’s website and then continue browsing the partner’s catalogue. 

Furthermore, your institution website can be linked to the Project’s online Contributing Partnership roster now in development.  (The NEIPS database is presently linked to the internet research resource pages of websites like Colonial Williamsburg, Harvard’s History of the Atlantic World, The Newberry Library’s Consortium in American Indian Studies, The Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery and Abolition Portal, and Yale’s American Indian Studies homepage, as well as on a growing number of online academic course syllabi.) 

Should the Project be involved in the creation of digital surrogates, a digital copy of the material will be provided to your institution.

What can my institution do with the provided image?

Many institutions use it as a preservation copy. Others also use it to generate revenue.  Nothing precludes the institution, cultural heritage organization, or native community from using the image for its own publications, programs or marketing. You are free to charge individuals requesting copies of images according to your institution’s own fee structure.  The Project does not interfere with such arrangements and does not ask for a percentage of the fee.

What can researchers do with the images?

When it comes to the use of images, researchers are constrained by the policies of your institutions. The NEIPS database provides a general statement that images may be used only for purposes of research, private study, or education and that in order to publish, exhibit, or broadcast images, permission must be requested and granted by the partnering institution.

Should researchers want additional information regarding copyright and publication of images they are directed, via a link, to your website.  

What happens when researchers want a copy of an image they see on the Project’s website? 

The Indian Papers Project’s website directs requests for images to the partnering or holding institution.  Email requests are directed similarly.

Does my institution need to include all of our Native American related materials in order to be a partner?

No, contributing institutions can decide to include all or only a portion of their Native American material.

How does my institution’s partnership with the Project benefit Native American research?

Inclusion of your institution’s Native American materials enlarges and enriches the corpus of information on New England Indians.  A document you provide may complement one in another cooperating institution.  For example, a letter you have may be the reply to one that is already in our database.  Or, a person, place, or incident mentioned in your document may be mentioned or associated with other documents in the database. 

On a larger scale, the Project’s database represents a scholarly critical edition of New England Native American primary source materials gathered presently from the partner institutions into one robust virtual collection, where digitized items are, transcribed, annotated, and edited to the highest academic standards and then made freely available over the Internet, using open-source software. By providing annotated transcriptions, the Project’s editors provide database users with useful information within a well-researched and balanced context necessary to understand the complexities of the historical record.  Thus, the database offers students, educators, researchers, Native American tribal members, and the general public, visual and intellectual access to significant historical knowledge for the purposes of teaching, scholarly analysis, and research.  In doing so, it furthers the Project’s mission and the missions of its cooperative partner institutions to encourage new scholarship, and promote a greater understanding and appreciation of New England’s earliest culture among a broader segment of the general public.

Other considerations?

The Indian Papers Project recognizes that Native American communities have concerns over culturally-sensitive materials that are affiliated with or attributed to them.  As a result, it respects the philosophy of the Protocol for Native American Archival Material by offering tribal representatives a review of materials historically written by, for, and about them for culturally-sensitive information that would be inappropriate for public access on the Project’s platform.  While this assessment is crucial to the Project’s editorial process, it puts no restrictions on your own use, display, or ownership of the materials.