To get an idea of the landscape of digital scholarship in the humanities, outlined below are projects by colleagues in the CIC Digital Humanities Initiative, of which Penn State is a member.
Abbot. With Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funding, a CIC research team from Nebraska and Northwestern is developing and testing a fast, scalable tool for facilitating interoperability among large text collections. Using Abbot will allow humanities researchers to integrate diverse text corpora, enabling search an analysis that may, for example, represent the entirety of public domain Western European literature.
MITH’s Text-Image Linking Environment (TILE) is a web-based tool for creating and editing image-based electronic editions and digital archives of humanities texts. TILE features tools for importing and exporting transcript lines and images of text, an image markup tool, a semi-automated line recognizer that tags regions of text within an image, and plugin architecture to extend the functionality of the software.
Digital Archives and Research Collections
Thematic research collections use the online medium to enhance the readers’ experiences in different ways. The Walt Whitman Archive developed an integrated guide to poetry manuscripts that uses EAD and XSLT 2.0 to merge finding aids from around thirty different repositories—an IMLS-funded project that won the CFW Coker Award from the Society of American Archivists. The Willa Cather Archive, funded by a major Nebraska Humanities Council grant, hosts a geographic chronology of Cather’s life based on primary source information. The conflated Lewis and Clark Journals, funded by NEH, include audio of Salish speaker, Germaine White, and podcasts of editor Gary Moulton on the making of the print journals—a twenty year endeavor. The People’s Contest aims to advance scholarship on one of the least understood aspects of the Civil War: “the experiences of the northern homefront during that conflict.” It includes a diverse collection of resources and archival material for researchers from museums and historical societies from throughout the commonwealth. The Civil War Diaries & Letters Transcription is an example of a public humanities project involving community sourcing.
Mapping and GIS Research Projects
One example of a research project that leverages GIS is Railroads and the Making of Modern America. The project teams in the U.S. and the U.K. received a Digging Into Data grant to develop new means of visualizing spatial-temporal data. Another example is Civil War Washington. Using geographic information systems, researchers are unveiling geo-spatial and temporal developments in Washington, D.C. as a result of the Civil War. NEH grant funding supports research on slavery, race and emancipation in the District. A relational database has been developed to exploit census data and primary resources in archives. The NEH-funded research team includes professors of history, literature and libraries; a programmer; a GIS technician; and both graduate and undergraduate students.
The Public Philosophy Journal (PPJ), funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is designed to re-envision the relationship between the academy and everyday life by creating a public space for accessible but rigorous scholarly discourse on challenging contemporary issues of public concern. The PPJ is an open-access, open peer-reviewed journal that employs an innovative publishing model that curates the best content from around the web, invites thinkers into a space for collaborative writing, and openly reviews the content for publication in a volume of the journal.
Large Scale Digital Libraries
Matrix at Michigan State continues to develop the Africa Online Digital Library, an IMLS-funded site that is adopting the emerging best practices of digital libraries in America and applying them to the African context. MSU’s Quilt Index, also IMLS-funded, is a digital repository created in partnership with the Alliance for American Quilts. Other examples are the University of Michigan’s EEBO-TCP (Early English Books-Text Creation Partnership), and Indiana University’s Victorian Women Writers Project.