Digital Archives

Gretchen Panzer and I have just finished a digital archive of North Wind: A Journal of George MacDonald Studies (1982-present). We’d like to see how to make the archive more interactive–we were constrained by our college’s use of Cascade. In addition, we are creating a digital archive that will supplement the publication of MacDonald’s At the Back of the North Wind (1871), a children’s fairy-tale novel–we will provide additional information from the nineteenth century to situate the novel  more specifically to the Victorian age. Thus we’d like to discuss the strategies to use to create platforms for digital archives that are defined by the field.

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7 Responses to Digital Archives

  1. Ryan Hoover says:

    This would be a fantastic panel for me. A couple of us are going to be creating an e-portfolio system for our University this summer, and we’ll be running into some of the same issues. The interactive archive thing would make a really interesting e-portfolio (they’re basically archives themselves).

  2. John, I’m interested in this topic from the perspective of the user. I suspect there are ways of drawing on digital archives that I’m not picking up on – the advantages they provide over image-only sources. Your work is also interesting to me because I work with children’s literature and would like to focus a project on the early texts for children, some of which are relatively difficult to find in hard copy – I wonder if I might begin building a digital archive.

  3. Dick Brown says:

    John, I’m wondering if you envision a better way to access predefined components of your archive, or if you seek technologies that would enable a user to access that archive in creative ways? The first of these requires a better user interface and/or a better retrieval system connected to that user interface. The latter would go further to explore new methods of retrieval. I ask because I have interest in exploring the latter.

    Sally, I too am interested in learning about digitizing written materials, beyond just capturing images.

    • John Pennington says:

      Hi, Dick–We’d be interested in both ideas. Our North Wind archive is “complete,” so we probably need to figure out ways to use that information better. Our At the Back of the North Wind archive is at the beginning stages, so we’d definitively want to explore the numerous ways to make the site more creative and interactive. We’re hoping that if we can figure the second archive out, then we can reconsider redesigning the North Wind journal archive.


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  6. Notes from session:

    • platforms for digital archives—suggestions:
    o Omeka
    o Be Press
    o Connexions (open source publishing outlet)
    • how to improve North Wind digital archive? (
    o database format rather than pdfs
    o change platforms—see above
    • archives available but low profile on the web—make friends with archivists to find uncatalogued sources
    • how to make digital archives count?—computational, public/usage momentum
    • TEI
    o—still in development
    o project from Stanford
    • NITLE
    o view case studies for descriptions
    • clearinghouses for DH projects? LACs are working on it

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