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The first public project to record email messages is requesting examples of romance, humour, and complaints.

The British Library is compiling a national record of British life by email, the first of its kind, to become a part of its permanent archives.

The Email Britain website went live on Thursday and invites everyone in the UK to forward emails from their "in" or "sent" boxes which say something about their lives.

Contributors are asked to submit messages in categories including blunders, love and romance, complaints, humour, news, and tales from abroad. Less then 24 hours after its launch it had received more than 1,000 contributions.

The project is being run jointly by the British Library and Microsoft, using the Windows Live Hotmail system.

Jonnie Robinson, curator for social sciences at the British Library, told GC News: "The archive will be collated by Windows Hotmail and then passed to the British Library. They will also remove any undesirable emails."

Email Britain is the latest in a series of collaborations between the British Library and Microsoft. Other projects include an online English dictionary and a number of digitisation schemes.

The email archive will join the library's collection of correspondence, which includes letters by well known literary figures, such as Jane Austen, Virginia Woolf, Ted Hughes, George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde.

"The interesting thing about Email Britain is that people can create their own part of history," said Robinson.

The website will stop taking additional material at the end of the month. The first results will be available in July.

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

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