9.503 e-archiving

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Tue, 30 Jan 1996 18:18:34 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 503.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)
Information at http://www.princeton.edu/~mccarty/humanist/

[1] From: Jim Marchand <marchand@ux1.cso.uiuc.edu> (26)
Subject: archiving e-texts

I remember sitting on the steps of Calhoun Hall at Vanderbilt as an
undergraduate, ostentatiously `reading' Plato in the original Greek. The
man I wanted most to impress, Walter Clyde Curry, passed by and asked what I
was doing. When I showed him the book, he passed on by with the remark:
`Ah, yes, culling the ancients.' When I asked about e-archiving, I was not
thinking of our poor efforts, but those of the giants on whose shoulders we
stand. I can have Greek literature up to 600 AD, most of Latin literature
of the pre-medieval period, the fathers, most of Anglo-Saxon literature,
etc., and there are efforts afoot to do Old Icelandic, Old Irish (Curia),
MHG (?), lots of Old Swedish, etc. etc., but what happens when a scholar
scans in (as I have) the Sermoni subalpini, a quite important text of Early
Italian (?). First, how do we jawbone our colleagues into placing these
gems on the Internet and into making them available with a minimum of
Next, how do we find out where they are? I was impressed recently to
receive a letter from a colleague who had found where I had `hidden' the
text and translation of the Biblia pauperum, and I remember sometime ago
finding the works of John of Trevisa on a computer out west.
Culling the ancients is much easier if you have an e-text. There are
three big problems (and many, many other small ones): 1. getting people to
place texts on the Internet; 2. getting people to make access easy and
without cost (no institutional hookups, no telnet with fee, in short, no
fee-based services); 3. getting our search engines refined enough to find
out (perhaps by having a place where one could announce what was available).
Note that much of this requires a will to do it, and that there are the
inevitable copyright problems and the like. Gedanken are not always frei.
Jim Marchand.