How to participate

The Pulse Project is conceived of as a long-term social documentation. We are encouraging anyone residing in the United States to apply for participation in the project. To apply, please fill out and submit the application form below. Once approved, participants will receive directives about four times a year. These will be open-ended questions on a variety of topics, ranging from close relationships and community life, to broader national debates about health care, education, and cultural values, to even larger global questions

The Pulse Project places value on subjective experience and material rich in description that can offer insights into everyday life. Participants will post digital blogs and/or audio-visual recordings. They are free to choose any format they may, be it a diagram, poem, story, letter, photo album, video recording, or something else. No stress is placed on “good grammar,” spelling, or style. The emphasis is on self-expression, openness, and a willingness to be a vivid social commentator and tell a good story.

You can write under your real name or, if you feel more comfortable remaining anonymous, under an assumed pen name of your choice. If you decide to assume a pen name, we just ask that you use that same pen name for the duration of your participation. You should still fill out the application form with your real name. We will maintain your confidentiality throughout the process and retain your anonymity for 50 years past the date you cease participation.

Participation in the project is entirely voluntary—you may stop at any time, and you are not required to indicate why. We will stop sending you directives after not hearing back for more than a year.

If you are interested in participating, please complete the following steps.

Step 1: Complete our online application form

Step 2: Send a recent photo of yourself

Attach a note [how??] giving your name, the date the photo was taken and where, and if possible, who took it. This will be kept with your self-portrait and not made available for research for 50 years.

Step 3: Write a self-portrait

This will provide a very basic outline for researchers. This form will be made available to researchers, so you should not include your name. This can be as long or as short as you wish, but it should serve to introduce you to us. You should include your year of birth and your sex, your address, your occupation, and some indication of your home life (whether you are married or single, who shares your home, and so forth). After that, it is up to you. Consider, however, how your background (personal/family/childhood/other experiences) have shaped your views on life/society/politics.

This self-portrait is not made public until 50 years later—so you can write as freely as you like.

Step 4: Complete and return the copyright form

Complete and return the Pulse Project Agreement (copyright) form. We ask you to do this so that we have a proper understanding with you about the use of your contributions. 

Once you have gone through these preliminary steps, we will send you the first directives.  Here are several sample directives that will give you a sense of the questions we might be asking:

  • Are you socially or politically active? If so, what do you engage in and what led you to that engagement? Do you engage in religious activities? If so, what are those? What led you to them?
  • Has the financial crisis of recent years had an impact on your life? What impact has it had? How have personal experiences shaped your views of issues at the center of political debate today? This might be health insurance, the economy, immigration, abortion, gay and lesbian rights, global influences, national values, etc.
  • Do you encounter people in your family/personal/professional life that hold very different views from yours? What happens? Do you discuss issues or do you avoid them? How do you feel about this?


Please submit the completed application form and a scan of your photograph as an e-mail attachment to

Or else print the form out and send it along with a photograph to:

Pulse Project
Department of History
Rutgers University
16 Seminary Place
New Brunswick, NJ 08901