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Readers may be interested in a new pilot project developed at CETH, the Center
for Electronic Texts in the Humanities, at Rutgers and Princeton Universities.
A small but scalable example of electronic publishing of archival materials,
the Griffis Collection Electronic Access Project serves to demonstrate the
potential of standards-based electronic text technologies to provide new kinds
of access to rare manuscripts and archival collections.
The project uses two complementary implementations of SGML (Standard
Generalized Markup Language) to provide networked access to the William Elliot
Griffis Collection, a collection (held in Rutgers Special Collections and
University Archives) of rare print, MS and photographic materials bearing
largely on the history of U.S.-Japan relations in the 19th century. A "skeleton
finding aid" (a prototype of a larger-scale finding aid) is encoded according
to the guidelines of the Encoded Archival Description (presently available in
an alpha-testing version from the Library of Congress; cf.
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/ammem/ead/). Two series in the finding aid are listed to
the item level: within them, links are provided to electronic editions of three
manuscripts from the collection.
Interesting historical materials in their own right, these manuscripts are
essays written in English by Japanese students during the early years of modern
educational reform in Japan (1871-1874), including among them an autobiography
written by Komura Jutaro (later Baron Komura), who was to become a prominent
statesman, diplomat, and architect of Japan's imperial expansion. In this
edition, these essays are transcribed and encoded according to the guidelines
of the Text Encoded Initiative (TEI; cf.
http://www.uic.edu/orgs/tei/index.html), and are provided with links to digital
images of the manuscripts.
Of particular interest to those working on the development of text encoding
technologies in the Humanities is that these resources link to one another.
Hypertext links can take the reader from the collection finding aid to the
manuscript editions and back again, demonstrating the flexibility of SGML
encoding and the usefulness of SGML as an interchange standard -- since no
compromises have to be made with regard to the actual tag sets used, each tag
set specifically designed for its purpose. These texts are provided for viewing
on the World-wide Web using the SGML browser SoftQuad Panorama (running on a
Windows platform), but are readily configured for use in other SGML application
programs or converted into other formats.
The project was conducted at CETH from March until July 1996, with the support
of Alexander Library, Rutgers University and Rutgers Special Collections and
University Archives. A front page for the project, including project
documentation with instructions for downloading and running Panorama, is
available on the web at --
CETH (Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities)
Rutgers and Princeton Universities
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