13.0263 destruction of archives

Humanist Discussion Group (humanist@kcl.ac.uk)
Tue, 9 Nov 1999 19:57:34 +0000 (GMT)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 13, No. 263.
Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London

[1] From: Paul Halsall <phalsall@unf.edu> (30)
From: "Norman D. Hinton" <hinton@springnet1.com> (6)
Subject: [Fwd: Destruction of the Document Archive at

[2] From: Paul Halsall <phalsall@unf.edu> (16)
From: "Norman D. Hinton" <hinton@springnet1.com> (4)
Subject: [Fwd: Re: Catholic Archives at American University]

Date: Mon, 08 Nov 1999 19:46:54 -0600
From: "Norman D. Hinton" <hinton@springnet1.com>
Subject: [Fwd: Destruction of the Document Archive at

This note and the next are very distressing -- they show some of the
problems of assuming that "on-line" means stable, and they represent the
loss of a Data Base that many people use.

I have written American University and suggested that this verges on

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Destruction of the Document Archive at
Date: Mon, 08 Nov 1999 15:41:45 -0500
From: Paul Halsall <phalsall@unf.edu>

American University in DC has long provided a major Internet repository
of early church and later catholic documents. These were established by
members of a number of email lists long based at american.edu,
especially members of the "Free Catholic List." The major collections
are under the URL

In recent weeks American University has informed all non-AU lists based
at its servers that they must move. This is inconvenient, and will out
date many print based references to such lists, but I suppose AU has the
right to change its policy. (It did, however, long ago promise such
lists that they could run from AU in perpetuity.)

Today I have learned that not only is AU booting the various email
lists, but will also destroy the directories associated with those
lists. This means that the entire library of texts on church history
will be destroyed. The date of destruction has been specified as
Thanksgiving weekend. Needless to say I, at least, am unhappy about a
wilful destruction of a library.

Currently Altavista reports 4757 links pointing to the Catholic Files
library, which gives some idea of the disruption american.edu is about
to visit upon users of online texts.

Some people may think that this is worth protesting to AU staff, AU
campus newspapers, and perhaps in other venues. For others, this would
be a good time to download the texts in question.

Note that many of the texts are available at other sites, but none have
quite the range of the AU collection. Moroever many of the other sites
now carry advertising, promote non-academic agendas, or practice a
rotation of URLs (which makes stable links hard to maintain.)

The contact person at AU appears to be Ann Hennings,
henings@american.edu, but the person responsible for the decision is
Carl Whitman, Executive Director of OIT.

Paul Halsall

Date: Mon, 08 Nov 1999 19:48:26 -0600
From: "Norman D. Hinton" <hinton@springnet1.com>
Subject: [Fwd: Re: Catholic Archives at American University]

The rest of the information about American University's files. Please
note the address to write to: responding here or writing me will not
get to the places it needs to go....

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Catholic Archives at American University
Date: Mon, 08 Nov 1999 16:38:58 -0500
From: Paul Halsall <phalsall@unf.edu>

In response to a number of private messages about the "Catholic Files"

First, wrt to the files themselves -- the total memory storage is not
that much -- much less that 50MB -- and Jim M cIntosh (former web master
at AU, and the guy who set up the whole site) is already trying to set
up a set of forwarding links.

The issue, however, is more than these particular files. Obviously I am
deeply involved in web presentation of scholarly materials, and one of
the *biggest* problems we have in getting scholars to take e-texts
seriously as citable resources is that URLs are unstable. The AU
Catholic Files directory was one of the most cited, and most stable, of
all online resources, so for it to fall is a major problem *even if*
forwards are put in.



[PS: for non US residents -- Thanksgiving in the US is the last Thursday
in November]

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