Digital Humanities Annotated Bibliography

Digital Nineveh Archives (

Institution(s): University of California, Berkeley

Date: 2005

Established in 2005 by a team from the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley with the aid of a Recovering Iraq’s Past NEH grant, the Digital Nineveh Archives (DNA) was developed to provide researchers with a digital repository that fully documents the history of archaeological excavations at Nineveh (located near modern Mosul, Iraq) while also rendering rare textual resources and data available and accessible. Two years after its inception, the DNA was joined by the British Universities Iraq Consortium, including the British Museum and the CAMEL (Center for Ancient Middle Eastern Landscapes) lab at the University of Chicago, which provided further support and considerably broadened the scope of the project. The multi-institutional team initially began digitizing field records from UC Berkeley’s archaeological excavations in 1987, 1989, and 1990, though it gradually expanded its focus to include documentation spanning from the 19th century to the present.  Additionally, the DNA was designed to not only offer researchers information on the history of excavations of Nineveh, but also situate the site within the larger history of ancient Near East and its excavation and exploration.

Written in both English and Arabic, this digital repository is a novel and valuable resource for researchers since it contains geographical reference and spatial information – i.e. high-resolution aerial photos and maps – as well as archival photos of the site and artifacts, field excavation reports, articles, and interactive timelines of the archaeology and history Nineveh, especially shedding light on its role as the capital of the Assyrian empire. Given the uniqueness of having these resources in one place that fully chronicle the history of an archaeological site, especially in Iraq, which has many sites that have either been destroyed or seriously endangered during the Iraq War, the DNA is both an important research tool as well as a much needed project to preserve data.

Additionally, the DNA website is technologically sophisticated, having a design that is user-friendly and created for a broad audience, especially one that is multi-lingual. The project has made a concerted effort to utilize multiple open source platforms to support the display of its data. The display of geospatial information is especially useful for researchers, allowing for the layering of historic maps with recent infrared or high-resolution aerial photos.  While parts of the DNA site remain unfinished, such as the blog component, as a work-in-progress the Digital Nineveh Archives is a project that would be well utilized by researchers of the ancient Near East.


North American Women’s Letters and Diaries ( – Note: The site requires a subscription to login, but is accessible through UT libraries).

Institution(s): Alexander Street Press and the University of Chicago

Date: 2000

Developed in 2000 by the University of Chicago and Alexander Street Press, the North American Women’s Letters and Diaries database was envisioned as a way to make manuscript materials from the 18th through the mid-20th centuries pertaining to women and gender accessible to researchers. Due to the often poor quality of microfilm and the difficulties posed to researchers unable to visit repositories in person, the developers of the database sought not only to make archival materials available in print text, but to also render them searchable by subject or index term, in such a way that would yield information previously inaccessible through other mediums. The biggest challenge the developers encountered, however, was how to structure the database and which controlled vocabularies to use. Bearing in mine that the presumed audience would be those primarily interested in women’s and gender studies, history, and social studies, they designed an interface that would allow researchers to simultaneously search for several subjects terms, implementing full text with fielded searching.

As the largest assemblage of manuscript material documenting the experiences of women in the United States, the North American Women’s Letters and Diaries comprise over 150,000 pages documents.  Although the database chiefly contains published letters and diaries, the developers have also been collecting unpublished materials, having accumulated approximately 6,000 items so far. Undoubtedly, having such a collection chronicling women’s history is a highly valuable and useful resource, albeit the database is only accessible through subscription, thus possibly limiting who can utilize it. In addition, the database’s collection of unpublished manuscript materials remain relatively small. Since unpublished manuscripts are more difficult to access, the database would be able to offer significantly more vital information should it make more unpublished items available. A collaboration with other institutions to digitize and make available more unpublished items would considerably broaden possibilities for research and our understanding of the history of women in North America.


British Women Romantic Poets (

Institution(s): University of California, Davis

Date: 2000

The British Women’s Romantic Poets (BWRP) project contains the poetry of British, Irish, and Scottish women, spanning from 1789 through 1832 (i. e. the Romantic period in literary history). Texts are selected by an Editorial Advisory Board composed of scholars from institutions both in the United States and Canada, though the majority of the poetry represented in the digital repository are housed in the UC Davis Library’s Kohler Collection. The documents are scanned and converted to ASCII format using OCR. The poetry is then made available in both HTML and XML (SGML prior to 2007) versions, enabling researchers to both read print text versions of the poems while also being able to view digitized excerpts of the original texts.

The vast majority of the poetry in the collection is yet unpublished, and thus the BWRP presents access to a large quantity of material that may have been largely unavailable to many researchers. By 2003, the BWRP had made 100 collections of poetry available, and since the website has not been updated more recently, it is difficult to determine if this number has been gradually increasing. Searching the texts can be accomplished two ways: researchers can browse an alphabetical index of authors on the BWRP website, or they can search by keyword, title, author, and date, etc., through the Online Archive of California (OAC), the Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-century Electronic Scholarship (NINES), or through OAIster, OCLC’s Digital Collection Services. Thus, the BWRP project website itself does not offer extensive search options, which may be limiting in many respects. However, sites such as the OAC offer researchers more search options, allowing them to search and peruse the collections of the BWRP with a great deal of ease.


The Digital Archaeological Record (

Institution(s): University of Arkansas, Arizona State University, Penn State University, SRI Foundation, Washington State University, and the University of York under the auspices of Digital Antiquity

Date: 2009

As a multi-institution, international digital repository, the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR) is designed to house, preserve, and make accessible the records of archaeological field excavations.  While most of the data in the tDAR is primarily from field work conducted in the United States so far, the repository will eventually contain data from international archaeological projects. Researchers can use tDAR to access data sets, GIS data, field reports, journal articles, and images of artifacts and from excavations. While the vast majority of users will be archaeologists interested in comparative research or wishing to investigate the history of excavations in a particular region, the digital repository is publicly accessible and is also designed to be an educational tool.

In addition to being able to conduct research, tDAR allows individuals or groups contribute to and enter data from their archaeological excavations to the digital repository. The developers of tDAR created metadata categories that represent the complexity of archaeological data, enabling researchers to simultaneously explore cultural, spatial, and temporal aspects of various archaeological sites and excavations. Given the limited geographical extent of the data within tDAR currently, the digital repository is principally useful for those investigating excavations in the United States. Nonetheless, with approximately 349,397 projects documented thus far, data available within tDAR shed considerable light on past and ongoing archaeological research.


Description de l’Egypte (

Institution(s): Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the International School of Information Science (ISIS), Alexandria, Egypt

Date: unknown

The Description de l’Egypte, named after the series of publications resulting from Napoleon Bonaparte’s 1798 expedition to Egypt, during which he was accompanied by a team of more than 150 scientists and scholars and nearly 2,000 artists, is a project by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and the International School of Information Science (ISIS) in Alexandria, Egypt, to digitize the 9 text volumes retained by the Institut d’Egypte and the 11 plate volumes housed in the Bibliotheca Alexandrina of the Description. The resulting digital resource allows researchers to peruse the various volumes of the Description, search by keyword or index terms taken specifically from Tables de La Description de l’Egypte (1943), or to select, rotate, and bookmark portions of the text and 900 hand-colored copperplate engravings.

This digital resource offers researchers remarkably high resolution versions of the 20 volumes of the Description de l’Egypte that can be easily read and studied. Although the website for the project can be viewed in either English or French, the volumes themselves are only available in French. Likewise, searching the Description requires a knowledge of French vocabulary. Beyond being an invaluable resource for Egyptologists, historians, and archaeologists, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina’s Description de l’Egypte project is part of a larger endeavor to preserve, document, and digitize the records of Egypt’s ancient and modern cultural heritage. As one of several projects initiated by the Bibliotheca Alexandrina and ISIS, the Description de l’Egypte project enables researchers to interact with the “imperial volumes” produced by Napoleon’s expedition in new ways.




Annotated Bibliography

1. National Digital Newspaper Program (2007). Chronicling America. Retrieved from

Chronicling America was developed by the National Digital Newspaper Program (NDNP), a joint project of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. The Web site is a database of digitized historic newspapers from across the United States (and its territories) originally published between 1836 and 1922. All images have been enabled with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to make them searchable, which appears to be the primary utility of the site. While the site would be most helpful to historians, genealogists, students and teachers, it could be useful for anyone who is doing historical research in that time frame.

Researchers can refine their searches by state, newspaper, date range and page; results are shown as digital page image with the search terms highlighted in red. There are also several facets by which to browse if a researcher isn’t quite sure what he or she is looking for. What makes this resource really stand out is the sheer quantity of material – according to news releases from July 2011, the database includes about 4 million digitized newspaper pages from 28 states.

NDNP aims to eventually have content from all U.S. states and territories, and it is well on its way to doing so. Chronicling America has expanded considerably since its launch, when it only had content from seven states and territories, which only covered 1900-1910. The site is easy to use; I especially like that it is easy to navigate around the images, move between images and download them for later reference. Researchers do seem to be taking note of this great resource – just cursory search turned up a recent data visualization of the growth of newspapers across the country.

2. Virginia Tech, University of Virginia, and Virginia Center for Digital History (1999). Virtual Jamestown. Retrieved from

Virtual Jamestown was created to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Jamestown’s founding, celebrated in 2007. Dr. Crandall Shifflett of Virginia Tech is the primary force behind the project. The goal seems to be to act as a portal to digital information about the historic colony. It includes links to a variety of different historic records, as well as more modern interviews and interactive maps.

Statements on the site indicate that it aims to serve a variety of research populations, however, I believe Virtual Jamestown would be most helpful for students or those with a more casual interest in the subject. Most of the records made available are in HTML text, rather than in original images. So while it is helpful to make the text of these documents available to people, much of the value is lost in taking it out of its historic context. This assessment is supported by the wide variety of teaching material presented for use in the classroom.

It is unclear how much has been done to continue the development of the project beyond the 2007 Jamestown anniversary. I noticed that several links are broken, and the site does not appear to have had a redesign since its original launch. However, there is at least one section with recent additions, called Paspahegh, examining the archaeology of a nearby Native American settlement.

3. Rutgers, National Park Service, New Jersey Historical Commission, & Smithsonian [1978]. The Thomas Edison Papers. Retrieved from

Though scholars began working on the Thomas Edison Papers in 1978, it is unclear when this digital resource was launched. However, it is still in use and continually updated; notes indicate that changes have been made as recently as June 2011. The project aims to make the massive collection of Edison’s papers accessible to the general public.

The Web site features a digital edition of the papers, which include original scans. While there is a search capability, it is not terribly intuitive. Users type in a general keyword, which leads them to a controlled vocabulary of related terms. They can then perform a document search with up to four of these controlled terms. Unfortunately, even the results list is difficult to navigate – it was hard to tell where to click to view the document.

The browsing features are more helpful. There is a “document sampler” with several highlights that were interesting, including Edison’s diary, and the curriculum section presents some ideas for classroom use. While it is helpful to see the original documents featured, the clunky search mechanism makes the site more difficult to use. However, through the project, the papers of Thomas Edison have certainly been made more widely accessible. It is obvious that the work is ongoing, and while the site could certainly do more to further increase access, the creators of the tool are at least achieving their goal in some respects.

4. Brown University (1999). The Women Writers Project. Retrieved from

The Women Writers Project had its roots in the 1980s, and worked with early electronic text encoding guidelines to preserve textual data and make the English-language writings of pre-Victorian women more accessible. It launched online in 1999, and now has more than 300 works dating from 1450-1850 that are transcribed and encoded in TEI/XML.

One especially interesting and dynamic feature of the site is its “lab” where the creators display new tools, visualizations and concepts. Current projects include a visualization that explore the percentage of male-to-female speakers in plays, and an at-a-glace visualization of a few key points across the entire realm of texts covered by the project. While the labs are not always as well-executed as they could be, it is really exciting that they are available and open to the public to play around with.

The largest body of the Women Writers Project is not open to the public, and is only available with a subscription. For this reason, one of the primary user bases will probably be more serious scholars who have a stronger need than a school project or casual curiosity, as has been the case with some of the other tools I have surveyed. Many universities also have the ability to subscribe to such services, and in places where this is the case, students and teachers are another user base. There are a number of guides and suggestions for classroom use on the site, including some interactive assignments, which support this user base.

5. Science Museum of Minnesota (2003). Mysteries of Catalhoyuk. Retrieved from

Mysteries of Catalhoyuk is an interactive Web site designed to get schoolchildren interested in archaeology. Developed by the Science Museum of Minnesota, it is organized around the excavation of an ancient city (Catalhoyuk) in what is now central Turkey. The central feature of the site is a series of “mysteries” – questions that real-life archaeologists are asking about the ancient city, like, “Is this the first city?” and “Why were the dead buried in the floor?” Each one has a series of information and activities associated with it. The themes of these mysteries are repeated an accessible through different parts of the site, such as in the “activities” section and the “artifacts” section.

One of the things I liked about this site that it was interactive and age-appropriate without being too hokey. It has a kind of adventure-comic design that would be appealing to young users, and offers a unique take on a place that many Midwestern youths might not otherwise have even considered. Mysteries of Catalhoyuk provides a list of resources to help teachers integrate the project into their classrooms to support this outreach.

Still, there are a few problematic aspects of the site. Most of the activities use Macromedia Flash or Quicktime. Because of this, schools that only have access to older equipment or do not have optimal technical capabilities might not be able to utilize the full resources of the site. As an older site, it can be somewhat more prone to bugs as well. Also, some of the themes don’t quite fit in with the adventure-comic style, such as information about funereal practices. Many informational packets are actually labeled as “comics,” which isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but when there’s a link to “Read the Baby Burial Comic,” it seems somewhat insensitive.

Annotated Bibliography

Project Gutenberg (

  • Creator(s): Michael S. Hart
  • Date Created: 1971
  • Institutions Involved: Currently hosted by ibiblio at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; originally hosted at the University of Illinois, then moved to Illinois Benedictine College; finances administered at one point by Carnegie Mellon University.  Other affiliated organizations include the Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation, Inc., and Distributed Proofreaders.
  • Goal or Function: Project Gutenberg digitizes and hosts public domain books/texts so that they are freely available to the public.
  • Salient Features: One of the first free and public online repositories of ebooks, Project Gutenberg is largely run by volunteers, who also add to the collection of books online.
  • Analysis: In my estimation, Project Gutenberg absolutely succeeds at what it has set out to do.  The interface, while not pretty, is very quick to load and easy to use.  The collection of public domain books is impressive.  The variety of formats available for download (epub, Kindle, plain text, html) means the texts on the site can be accessed by virtually anyone with a computer or ebook reader.

Monk Project (

  • Creator(s): See “Institutions Involved”
  • Date Created: 2007
  • Institutions Involved: Northwestern University, University of Illinois, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Maryland, University of Georgia, University of Nebraska, University of Virginia, University of Alberta
  • Goal or Function: MONK (Metadata Offer New Knowledge) is a text-mining and data visualization tool to aid in scholarly analysis of literary texts.
  • Salient Features: MONK provides access to 151.5 million words of searchable text, so it is necessarily much faster and more powerful a tool than the two platforms it builds upon, WordHoard and Nora. The MONK datastore consists of a vast quantity of pre-20th century English-language literary texts. Additionally, MONK provides a web interface for easy searching.
  • Analysis: I’ve never used MONK, nor have I done any text-mining, but after looking through the MONK workbench tutorials and screenshots it looks like the web interface is well suited to the tasks of the text-mining humanities scholar.  The MONK workbench interface offers several different text-analysis methods and text-grouping options that are specific to literary texts (grouping by genre, for example).  This is obviously a tool designed with a very specific audience in mind, and the result is that that audience is well served by that tool.  A novice with a casual interest in the digital humanities, however, would probably be better off with a simpler tool like Google n-gram viewer.

Wellcome Arabic Manuscripts Online (

  • Creator(s): The Wellcome Arabic Manuscript Cataloguing Partnership (WAMCP)
  • Date Created: 2009
  • Institutions Involved: The Wellcome Library, Bibliotheca Alexandrina, King’s College London. Funded in part by the JISC Islamic Studies Programme.
  • Goal or Function: The Wellcome Library has digitized a portion of its Arabic Manuscripts collection, specifically a set of Arabic medical texts, so that they are publicly available online.
  • Salient Features: Users can view photographs of the manuscripts, compare two manuscripts side by side, and search the manuscripts in a variety of ways, including via a “virtual keyboard” of old Arabic characters.
  • Analysis: One of the things I really liked about this site is that, although the searching methods seemed geared more towards researchers, the WAMCP made sure to include a prominently placed glossary and help manual so that those new to research could find their way around the site.  The virtual Arabic keyboard was easy to use (although I didn’t know what I was typing, so maybe the finer points are lost on me), and the search results came up relatively fast.  The manuscripts themselves are beautiful, and well worth seeing digitally.  I do wish that I could “flip” the pages rather than scroll down through them, but that’s more just me quibbling than anything else.

Project Bamboo (

  • Creator(s): See “Institutions Involved”
  • Date Created: 2008
  • Institutions Involved: Australian National University; Indiana University; Northwestern University; Tufts University; University of California, Berkeley; University of Chicago; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; University of Maryland; University of Oxford; University of Wisconsin, Madison
  • Goal or Function: The goal of Project Bamboo is to create digital tools/services that aid in humanities research.
  • Salient Features: Project members are in the process of creating a number of applications and “research environments” that will allow humanities scholars to search, access, store, and analyze a variety of multimedia content. Additionally, Project Bamboo will design a metadata standard to ensure collection interoperability.
  • Analysis: Project Bamboo just recently began its technology-development stage, so I do not believe that there are any tools to evaluate just yet.  However, the standardization of metadata across different institutions and the ability to search and manipulate multimedia items in collections would most likely be useful to digital humanities researchers.

Google Art Project (

  • Creator(s): Google
  • Date Created: Announced 2011
  • Institutions Involved: Currently, the following museums are involved: Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin – Germany; Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian, Washington DC – USA; The Frick Collection, NYC – USA; Gemäldegalerie, Berlin – Germany; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC – USA; MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art, NYC – USA; Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid – Spain; Museo Thyssen – Bornemisza, Madrid – Spain; Museum Kampa, Prague – Czech Republic; National Gallery, London – UK; Palace of Versailles – France; Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam – The Netherlands; The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg – Russia; State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow – Russia; Tate Britain, London – UK; Uffizi Gallery, Florence – Italy; Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam – The Netherlands
  • Goal or Function: The Google Art Project endeavors to make the world’s museums and artworks available to the public online.
  • Salient Features: The project allows users to take virtual tours of participating museums, save and curate their own collections of artworks, and view a limited number of artworks in “super high resolution” (around 7 billion pixels per image).
  • Analysis:  What makes the Google Art Project exciting is that, unlike other online art repositories that give users a representation of the artworks housed at their physical counterparts, Google is trying to give the user the experience of actually being with the artworks in a museum.  This is accomplished via the virtual tour function (somewhat successful) and the super-high resolution images (very successful).  While the virtual tour is novel and interesting, the navigation can be a little clumsy and unintuitive.  The high-resolution images, on the other hand, are thrilling, and the ability to see the texture of the surface of these artworks helps recreate the physicality of the artworks in a virtual space.

Annotated Bibliography Assignment

Digital Humanities Resources:

Perseus Digital Library., Gregory Crane, Editor in Chief, Tufts University.

The goal of this project is to make the entirety of scholarship in English, Greek, Latin and Arabic available online. In reality, it is a continuously growing collection of classical Greek, Latin, Arabic texts and their English translations, with some commentary present. In addition to the texts, the library features a growing number of pictures of artifacts, buildings and archaeological sites. It has also branched out into 19th Century American, Renaissance and Germanic Materials, but these materials are more limited, and it is still mainly used as a resource for classicists. It’s anticipated audience members are students, and scholars, though the collection is accessible to anyone.

This collection features an extremely large assortment of full-text searchable documents, mostly original Greek and Latin texts and their English Translations. The database subdivides the longer texts into books and sections generally agreed upon by Classicists. The user can navigate through these documents by searching, or by browsing through the various sections. Both the ease of use and the sheer volume of texts, both in translation and in the original languages, make this a valuable resource.

This site is widely used by students and scholars as a basis for primary source research. It’s broader goal- to encompass all of human scholarship, is not an entirely feasible one. However, it continues to grow its collection of classical texts and this alone means that the scope of the project will grow. This site has a couple of drawbacks, though. First, you do have to know something of what you are looking for. This is not a site that you would want to just browse through. It helps to have some key words/ an author in mind. Second, some of the translations are older (pre-copyright). This in and of itself isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that some of the phrases are translated differently than they would be in modern texts. For example, many of the god’s epithets in mythological texts are translated differently and therefore have different connotations than in more recent translations. All of that said, though, this is an amazing resource that contains good translations of texts not found anywhere else on line and that are difficult to obtain in print.

Documenting the American South,, 1996, The University Library at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Documenting the American South, or DocSouth, is a database of digitized primary source material for Southern History from the collections at UNC. It includes maps, letters, journals, paintings, photographs, pamphlets and many other types of resources that span a wide time frame from the Colonial period to the Civil Rights Movement. It is geared towards teachers, students and scholars for their use in various academic endeavors.

The collection’s materials are divided by collection, author, geographic location, and by the collection in which the physical materials are held. The user can also search the entire collection. This makes it easier to track down the material that a student or scholar might need, and it makes it easy to find material that is related to the subject that the person is researching.

This project is widely used by people researching Southern History in various capacities. The format is good, however you do have to know what something about what you’re looking for to begin browsing the individual collections. It’s also helpful to have some understanding of the subject to formulate keywords that will return hits in the search box- for example the proper historical names for objects or conditions.

ARTstor,, 2001, Neil L. Rudenstein, Chairman.

ARTstor is a digital library of images that schools, museums and libraries can subscribe for educational purposes. It was originally funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, but became an independent organization in 2004. The collection is drawn from many different museums, libraries, private collections and many other resources. Because of this, one of it’s goals is to centralize digital images and remove some of the burden of digitization from universities and museums by allowing them to retrieve the images from a central database.

ARTstor has a lot of nice usability features, including the ability to search using advanced terms, such as the date of the object in question, or it’s geographic location. It also contains many high definition images that can be zoomed in on and examined in great detail. The subscription also includes the right to download the images to an off-line viewer, print images and save them to hardware such as a portable hard drive.

This is a great image resource for scholars, students, teachers, and others affiliated with an educational institution, or who have access to it through a library or museum. The biggest drawback to this site is that it is not free. This is understandable, considering that it costs a lot of money to run a site like this, but it does limit access to those affiliate with or physically present at an institution with the resources to subscribe to the digital library.

Discovering Sherlock Holmes,, 2007, Linda Paulson, Stanford University.

This is a project of the Masters of Liberal Arts program at Stanford University and the Special Collections department of the Stanford Library. It involves publishing 12 Sherlock Holmes stories that were published in The Strand Magazine and are held in the Special Collections of the Stanford Library system. The stories are available for free in PDF form on the website and are also available in print for $10.00. The site seems geared towards teachers and students, and others in the Stanford community, but could also be used by any member of the general public.

The site not only includes the PDF copies of the stories as they appeared in the magazine, but also explanatory notes for each story and a general introduction to Sherlock Holmes’ author, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and to the Victorian Era. This project as is, is very easy to use. It only requires a web browser and PDF viewer to use. The PDF format allows for easy printing and portability outside of the website, and it allows the user to see the illustrations and type the way that it originally appeared in the magazine.


Main Street, Carolina,, 2008, Robert Allen and Louis Round Wilson Special Collections Library, University of North Carolina.

This collection brings together many resources with the goal of helping towns and cities interested in recreating their downtowns’ past. The centerpiece of the project is a set of insurance maps of various North Carolina’s past. These are then merged with photographs, letters, historical commentary, and excerpts from oral histories using a GIS software that allows for these items to be placed within their geographical context. This same software allows for the manipulation of the maps themselves, so that they can be viewed in great detail, and so that the same location can be viewed on different maps or from different angles. This allows local museums, historical societies and down town centers to create a

This project is still in the pilot stage, so it’s hard to say how successful it will be, but the goal is feasible, considering how many towns are interested in on-going down town revitalization projects. There are currently 7 projects on the website. The major drawback of the at least the pilot program, is that it’s designed to work only with Mozilla Firefox. The data from the GIS system and the maps simply will not load when using either Google Chrome or Internet Explorer. The site warns the user about this limitation, but it still severely limits the site’s usefulness, since the majority of people use Internet Explorer as their browser, especially people who are not comfortable with technology. This may limit the site’s marketability to historical societies, etc., unless they can make the program compatible with more internet browsers.

Annotated Bibliography of Digital Humanities Sites

Note: the blue headlines to each section are clickable hyperlinks.

The Walt Whitman Archive

Creators: Kenneth M. Price (University of Nebraska–Lincoln) and Ed Folsom (University of Iowa)
Date Created: 1995
Institutions Involved: University of Nebraska-Lincoln, University of Iowa, University of Virginia, University of Texas at Austin, Duke University, College of William & Mary, U. S. Department of Education, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Historical Publications and Records Commission, American Council of Learned Societies, the Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the Cooper Foundation, Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS)
Basic Function: The Whitman Archive is a comprehensive research and teaching tool that collects and presents in digital format all known versions of Whitman’s work. It also presents photographs, contemporaneous reviews, holographic manuscripts, letters and sound recordings of Whitman.
Features: The Whitman Archive is essentially a one-stop shop for readers and scholars of Whitman. The Archive presents all of Whitman’s work, his letters, even sound recordings. For the archivist, the project is also uniquely valuable as the project includes extensive documentation of editorial processes, encoding guidelines, finding aids and metadata schemas.
Analysis: The Walt Whitman Archive is an exemplary Digital Humanities resource. The site features text, images and sound and all resources are available free to anyone with a browser-enabled computer. The developers of the site get high marks for the comprehensive collection of resources they have made available and also for adding additional layers of scholarly context, finding aids to other collections and extensive documentation of the standards and practices used to develop the site. It’s hard to find any fault with this archive.
Sample from the site: Digital reproduction of an 1854 portrait of Walt Whitman


A Hypervortex of Ezra Pound’s Canto LXXXI

Creators: Ned Bates, Robert Lagenfield, Gail McDonald
Date Created: <NA>
Institutions Involved: University of North Carolina, Greensburg
Basic Function: This site provides a hyperlinked version of Ezra Pound’s poem, Canto LXXXI. Pound’s Cantos are notoriously difficult, often obscure and highly allusive. This site provides a digital version of the poem that features in face hyperlinks that provide a convenient gloss on the more difficult sections of the poem.
Features: The site provides the heavily-hyperlinked poem and a critical discussion of the pros and cons of providing a hyperlink-enabled version of Pound’s poem.
Analysis: The documentation of the Hypervortex site indicates that this site was developed as a pedagogical experiment. It’s too bad the experiment was never continued, as the site provides excellent guidance and elucidation of Pound’s poem. Even Pound scholars often need to keep expensive hardbound glosses of The Cantos at hand when reading Pound. It would be terrific if Pound readers had this sort of hypertext available for all of the Cantos. As it is, the site is easily accessible with just a browser-enabled computer and provides excellent aids to scholarship.
Sample from the site: First hyperlink panel from the Hypervortex

The Illustrated Wallace Stevens

Creators: Noah Berlatsky and 21 comic/graphic novel artists
Date Created: July 2011
Institutions Involved: Hooded Utlilitarian blog
Basic Function: This site presents illustrations and artwork by 21 artists based on poems by Wallace Stevens. Work ranges from comic books panels to video art.
Features: This site sometimes presents the text of poems by Wallace Stevens,  but always presents interesting visual work based on the poems. The site also includes a basic introduction to the project, basic metadata tags and comments from readers.
Analysis: The Illustrated Wallace Stevens is a conceptually interesting site, but after you have clicked through it once, not much remains to be done. It’s also not clear for whom this site was developed. Is it intended to somehow popularize the poems of Wallace Stevens? If so, the site needs to provide background and context for new readers who may need help understanding why Wallace Stevens is worth the fuss. Pointers to other web resources about Stevens would also be a great idea.
Sample from the site: A Panel from Sean Michael Robinson’s “Sunday Morning”

Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection Database

Creators: No specific information is given regarding individual contributions to this database.
Date Created: 2010
Institutions Involved: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Basic Function: The Collection Database provides a digital interface for more than 300, 000 objects held by the Museum. The Database provides search functions and zoomable/pannable images of each of these objects. It also provides detailed descriptions and metadata for each object.
Features: This site provides not only features for the viewer/visitor but a wealth of scholarly resources as well, including provenance and bibliography data for each item.
Analysis: Given such an abundance of resources, it seems churlish to ask for more. But many of the Museum’s holdings have not yet been (and may never be?) digitized, so any search brings up tantalizing descriptions of artworks, posters, postcards and books that the user cannot access. The site is very easy to use, though, and can be used by anyone with and interest in art and access to a web browser. Warning: this site is mildly addictive.
Sample from the site: Helen Frankenthaler’s Eros



Creators: Charles Bernstein, Al Filreis
Date Created: 2005
Institutions Involved: University of Pennsylvania, Kelly Writers House, Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing, UbuWeb, Electronic Poetry Center
Basic Function: PennSound is an archive of recordings of modern and contemporary poetry. It features more than 1500 individual recordings, freely available to anyone who wants to download them, in .mp3 format.
Features: PennSound also provides a variety of indexes to their source files and they provide basic provenance and bibliographic information whenever possible.
Analysis: PennSound is very much a continuing project. The site includes extensive links to media coverage and many comments from happy users. The site is easy to navigate, provides an enormous amount of content and can be used by anyone with access to a computer enabled with a web browser and audio card. If there is any downside to the site, it is in the selection parameters. Charles Bernstein, one of the co-founders, is a relentless advocate of avant-garde literature. As such, the site seems to view its primary mission as the preservation of audio recordings by avant-grade and modernist poets. No so much here if your interests lie in more traditional or mainstream work.
Sample from the Site: Guillaume Apollinaire’s “Le Pont Mirabeau”



Annotated Bibliography

Whitaker’s Words – “WORDS”
William Whitaker
December 2006 (Newest Release)
No associated institutions

Whitaker’s Words (WW) is a dictionary and parsing tool for Latinists. It is a small (in terms of memory) computer program which can be downloaded on any operating system for free. It runs using a command line-like interface and contains over 39,000 words. It translates both from Latin to English and vice versa and gives a full grammatical description of every entry. I was shown this amazing tool by my roommate while studying abroad in Rome, and soon learned that nearly every classics major or student of Latin I knew used it. The interface is simple and intuitive, and it does not require an internet connection (a definite blessing if one is trying to focus) like the vast majority of computerized Latin dictionaries. The parsing aspect of WW is also extremely useful, as the verb tense or number affects the rest of the sentence. Using WW means figuring out the meaning of a sentence will take seconds rather than minutes, and after a hundred lines of translation, that means saving hours.

As both an observer and a user of this tool, I can very much attest to its frequent use within the Latin community. It saves an enormous amount of time and effort while refraining from robbing the student of translation practice; I still have to know what “first person singular present active indicative” means, and I have to fit it into the rest of my sentence. One commonly cited critique is that WW includes words from all eras of Latin-speaking time, not just the Classical period, and so it might give some definitions that are not entirely correct. This is a valid complaint, and so students should always double-check a translation that doesn’t seem to make sense. Overall, Whitaker’s Words is an extremely useful, lightweight language tool that makes translation smoother and more fun.


Zeus: Master of Olympus [actual website no longer exists]
Impressions Games, Sierra Entertainment
No associated institutions

Zeus: Master of Olympus is a city-building computer game located in Ancient Greece. It contains almost 20 “adventures” the player may choose from. Each adventure follows a mythological or historical storyline (ex: Hercules’ Labors, Jason and the Argonauts, The Peloponnesian War) and the player must meet goals to progress to the next chapter in the story. The game has an ESRB rating of “everyone,” but is mainly intended for ages 10+ because of the complex goals and reading level, however I replay it all the time and still find amusing jokes in the narratives which would have sailed over the head of my 12 year old self.

This game is one of several in Sierra’s city-building line (others include Caesar, Pharaoh, and Emperor), but it is unique from the games of other companies in that it does not focus on war. In Zeus, players can choose to focus on economic profit, good leadership, appeasement of the Gods, or military conquest, but the vast majority of the game is spent coaxing a thriving settlement from an unforgiving Greek countryside, rather than killing things. Another unique aspect of Zeus is its accuracy. I learned most of what I know about Greek geography and everyday life from this game, from the food the Greeks ate (olives, grapes, oranges, wheat, urchins, and boar) to the ships they built (triremes and frigates) to empires they traded and warred with (Carthage, Egypt, and Persia). After having actually studied Classics for four years, I have yet to find an erroneous depiction within Zeus, and I applaud its ability to passively educate while still providing a fun and un-contrived setting.

While the ultimate goal of Zeus is entertainment, and the ultimate goal of Sierra is to make money, I nevertheless believe Zeus does a wonderful job of introducing children to the Greek world, and sparking interest in foreign cultures and history. Unfortunately Sierra Entertainment is now defunct, and neither Zeus nor its compatriot games are being made or supported any longer. I think this is likely due to Zeus’ relatively niche appeal (lacking a prominent fighting aspect), simplistic play-style, and single-player aspect.


TACC (Texas Advanced Computing Center)
University of Texas, Austin
University of Texas, Austin

TACC is primarily a computational visualization resource. Although it attracts many of the sciences and computer-related disciplines, it is also a fantastic tool for artists, behavioral scientists, archaeologists and historians, and many other practitioners of the Humanities. It provides High-Performance Computing, Visualization Centers, Data Storage, and Networking to researchers from around the country, and it is striving to broaden its outreach to all academic disciplines through partnerships with ICA (Institute for Classical Archaeology), NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) and the Blanton Museum of Art.

I think TACC will be an amazing tool for the Humanities in the near future, as long as the scholars involved in the Humanities make use of it. Right now, it is heavily used by scientific researchers, but TACC opens its doors to all. UT offers classes directly related to supercomputing at TACC, and the center is open to the public for tours and information. The website even contains a section dedicated to extending a hand to the Humanities (Education & Outreach –> Humanities). I think something like TACC could be extremely useful to the field of Digital Humanities simply because it is such a new, powerful, and underexplored tool which strives to do exactly what we do: meld the humanities and technology. I am curious to see how the liberal arts fields make use of it in the future.


Ancient Lives
Paul Ellis, Dirk Obbink, James Brusuelas, Chris Lintott, Arfon Smith, Michael Parrish
July 26th, 2011
Imaging Papyri Project, Oxyrhynchus Papyri Project, Egypt Exploration Society, Oxford University, Citizen Science Alliance, Arts & Humanities Research Council

The Ancient Lives project is a crowdsourcing-based papyri translation database. Thousands of papyri fragments from the Oxyrhynchus settlement in Egypt have been uploaded to the web where “armchair archaeologists” (read: anyone at all) can examine and translate them using a simple visual interface and a Greek character cheat-sheet.  This project is very similar to the “Galaxy Zoo” project, in which scientists uploaded photographs from the Hubble telescope and asked the general public to describe their shapes so that scientists could then determine what kinds of galaxies and stars existed outside our own universe. Ancient Lives relies on using the thousands of workers available from the general, interested public to generate huge amounts of data which would otherwise never be collected. These papyri fragments, although they have been studied by Oxford Egyptologists and Papyrologists for more than 100 years, were still almost entirely un-translated and unread, but now there is a chance of discovering all kinds of new literature including Bible fragments, dramatic works, and philosophical treatises.

Although I had heard of Ancient Lives, I had not tried it until this afternoon. The interface is very streamlined, almost too much so, because I had to search the website for instructions on how to begin identifying letters. Another downside is the lack of magnification, although this is completely understandable when one remembers the project involved scanning thousands of fragments into the database. While I do not think the interface is perfect, I think this project could be extremely enlightening and possibly earth-shaking. With so many unknown fragments, it is quite possible a lost play of Sophocles or Menander lies buried in the heap, or some equally important work. This tool not only allows thousands of laypeople to explore and view a previously private collection, but it vastly increases the likelihood of something interesting being discovered after moldering in obscurity.


Randy Hoyt
No associated institutions

This is a neat little tool which allows the user to type on their own keyboard into the interface, which will then output Greek characters. It does not require the user to download any software, or change any settings on his or her own computer; simply load the webpage and start typing. This particular tool transliterates into Ancient Greek, so it is directed mainly at biblical, classical, and Greek scholars, but it requires no previous knowledge (it just wouldn’t be useful to someone without any Greek background).

This product is unique because it is free and extremely easy to use. The one downside is that it requires an internet connection (although this is because it does not require the user to download anything), so one cannot utilize it anywhere. The website is very simple and includes a helpful alphabet key for which keyboard letters correspond to which Greek letters, and I have found it very useful for practicing my own Greek vocabulary and English-to-Greek sentence translation. Although the tool does not have a particularly wide user pool, nor can one print from it, one can copy/paste from it, and the characters will remain Greek as long as the computer supports that type of font. While I don’t think this “appeals to the masses” in the same way that Google Translate does, it is very useful for the purpose it does serve.

Annotated Bibliography

Mississippi Sovereignty Commission Online

Created by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, 2002

This collection is designed to provide access to the records of the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission, a state government organization tasked with keeping track of Civil Rights workers and sympathizers to the movement. The audience for this collection is anyone interested in studying the state’s official response to civil rights, and the underhanded methods they undertook to stop the movement.

This project is unique because it encompasses the entire history of the Sovereignty Commission, which can be found nowhere else. It’s also unique due to its history – the Mississippi state government, as a condition to releasing the archives to the MDAH in 1977, demanded they be sealed shut until 2027. It took a drawn out lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union to open them, and they were not accessible to the public until 1998.

The main drawback to this collection is it’s difficult to use if you don’t know exactly what you’re searching for. In order to really get use out of it, you must already be well versed in the history of the Sovereignty Commission.


Alan Lomax Collection at the Library of Congress

Created by the The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, in conjunction with the Association for Cultural Equality and Hunter College, 2004

This collection encompasses the entirety of the work of Alan Lomax, a folklorist, adding to the material he had collected for the LOC in the 1930s and 1940s.  It includes audio recordings, photographs, motion picture film, videotapes, books, journals, and manuscripts. His work is one of the most definitive collections of folk life in America and Europe, and is of immense importance to anyone interested in studying the culture.

It is a unique collection because of how extensive it is. It includes some of the first, and in some cases only, recordings of the originators of American Blues and other types of traditional music.

The goal of the project is to realize Lomax’s goal of making his material available to anyone who may wish to study or enjoy it. Although the whole collection is open to the public, there are very limited materials that are available for view online. The sound recordings are not posted in their entirety, and there are no video recordings posted at all. In order to fully achieve their goal, the entire collection should be made available online.

Portrait Gallery at PCL

Created by the Perry-Castañeda Library at the University of Texas at Austin, [2007]

This collection is a series of portraits of historical figures housed at the PCL. The users for this collection would be anyone who wishes to view or use official portraits of important figures.

It is unique because all of the images are in the public domain, and no permission is needed to use them. This makes it extremely easy for researchers to obtain digital copies of images they may find useful.

The collection would be much easier to view if they organized it as a series of thumbnails. As it is now, the collection is simply a list of links which must all be opened individually, which makes it difficult to go through quickly.

The Met Collections Online

Created by The Metropolitan Museum of Art with the Oceanic Heritage Foundation, [2000]

This collection provides photographs of the art held by The Met. Although it does not display every piece located in the museum, it is extremely extensive and provides examples from every category of art the museum houses.

The collection database has 341,265 individual pieces available for online view, making it one of the largest online collections available. It is searchable by the titles of the pieces, by collection name, and by museum “highlights.” The pieces are displayed in large thumbnails, and their specific information can be viewed by opening a new page or simply hovering the mouse over the image.

The only real problem with this collection is that the information on the individual items is at times incomplete. Otherwise, of all the online databases I’ve reviewed in this post, this one was by far the best maintained and easiest to use.


Creators and founding date unknown

This site houses a large collection of educational documentaries available for streaming, spanning subjects such as art, American history, British history, world history, science, war, and culture. It is a good source for those who are interested in watching educational documentaries, but who do not want to buy them or scour the Internet to find them.

It is unique because of its expanse and ease of use. It is searchable by general or specific category, by documentary title, or by reviewing an alphabetical index. A Wikipedia description of each documentary is provided, allowing the viewer to know what the documentary is about and who created it before committing to watching.

This collection is not maintained by any sort of official or academic institution, and the sites it is streaming the documentaries from are often third-party sites housed in foreign countries. At times, the streaming of a documentary may be in violation of copyright law. The quality of the video is not always good, the documentaries are often presented in parts, and some of the sites it attempts to stream from are no longer in use. It does provide alternate sources if the initial source does not work, however.


Annotated Bibliography

1. HitRecord.org Gordon-Levitt, Joseph; Gordon-Levitt, Dan [2005], No associated institutions. is a collaborative production company that provides a digital canvas for artists and amateurs alike to post their creations (called records) in audio, text, video, photo, and animated form–all on the condition that they allow their posts to be remixed and reposted ad infinitum. This dependence on remix and recreation is what makes this site unique.

HitRecord allows you to add references- a list of all the resources that were used to create a piece. Any results created which used that piece as a resource are also shown, thus telling the story of a work of art’s evolution. The project facilitates collaboration via groups, themes, and series’, any of which may become monetized productions (some of the most notable works have premiered at the South by Southwest and Sundance film festivals). Featured videos or works of art are chosen to appear on the homepage and rotate daily.  Additionally, the HitRecord activities have evolved beyond the virtual setting to include f2f events.

I like the simple design of the site, which allows the artwork to be the focus. I also think this site is very easy to use and understand. FAQs are addressed in video form, and it is easy to post new materials. The site has somewhere between 7-10,000 participants, but it does seem that a small number of people are contributing heavily to the site, with the work of those on the periphery being somewhat ignored. After perusing the site regularly for a few weeks, one may wonder how much Joseph-Gordon Levitt might be influencing which works get collaborated on, thus stifling the intended organic nature of creations.

2. Livemocha Nadkarni, Shirish [2007], Pearson Education; Collins (partners).

Livemocha is a recent e-language-learning startup founded by a group of Seattle-based tech entrepreneurs. Built around the social web concept, Livemocha is a place where you can begin to learn one of over thirty languages, explore cultures, and/or help others learn English. By using Livemocha you connect with over 8.5 million language learners from over 195 countries, with Russia having the highest percent of site traffic.  U.S. is the second highest with 6.8%. (, Retrieved Sep. 10, 2011.)

The site provides instant vocabulary lessons in photo, audio, and written format.  Users can track course progress, build a profile, and make friends with language partners suggested by the site based on level and target language. Language learners can chat via the site, or connect through Facebook. Earning points by reviewing the submissions of others given in your native language is the best way to get almost completely free content. This peer-review system creates a unique online language exchange.

Yes, however, there is a downside. While I find this to be a very viable goal, there is a cost for certain portions of the lessons and games (unless you earn points!) Also, Although submission reviews from native speakers can be helpful, their quality and standards vary radically. Basically this is a low-cost educational tool and a great way to get some basic familiarity with a language, or perhaps brush up a bit. It is not a free way to get fluent. Organizations and educators using Livemocha include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Travelocity, Intel, Taos Opera Institute, Root Capital, and more.

3. Graffiti Research Lab Powderly, James; Roth, Evan [date unknown], Eyebeam; Free Art and Technology Lab.

Graffiti Research Lab (GRL) is a project dedicated to technological and artistic innovation. The collaboration between Evan Roth & James Powderly that became GRL began during their time at the non-profit arts and technology center Eyebeam, who intially supported the project. It is now is part of the Free Art and Technology Lab, and their mantra is this: GRL is “Dedicated to outfitting graffiti artists and activists with open source tools for urban communication.” This TED talks video explains the story behind the Eye Writer, a tool created for an L.A. based graffiti artist who became fully paralyzed after being diagnosed with ALS. The tool they created (one of TIME’s 50 best inventions of 2010) was both an inspiration for, and major accomplishment of GRL.

The project is essentially a comprehensive offering of source code for innovative artistic tools, and an archive of videos demonstrating their creations and projects, both in the lab and at galleries and events happening around New York and in other “sister cells” in places like Tokyo, Brazil, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Colorado, and Utah. What I like about this group is the focus on study, celebration, and promotion of the intersection between traditional art and digitally created art, and in the creation of new tools for those ends. While there is a very specialized core target audience made up of those concerned with urban expression, I think that others outside the movement can appreciate the demonstrations and exhibitions as well.

4. StoryCorps Isay, Dave [2003], Library of Congress; National Public Radio.

StoryCorps is an independent non-profit organization that provides a place for Americans from all walks of life to share and contribute their personal story or memory to a growing collage of American oral histories. All contributions are preserved by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.  Each week, portions of selected conversations are featured on the radio during NPR’s morning edition, and on the web at Story Corps’ Listen pages and pod casts. Stories featured on the listen page include a photo of the contributors, a synopsis of the talk’s subject matter, and the location of the recording. Stories can be shared via Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

StoryCorps is a public service, asking only a small donation for recording, archival preservation, and a free CD for the storytellers to keep. There are permanent StoryBooth locations in New York, San Francisco, and Atlanta, GA, as well as MobileBooth locations- portable recording studios housed in a custom Airstream trailer (locations publicized via the website throughout the year). For a larger donation, interested parties can also contribute by using StoryKits, which are sent to the home with instruction guides, or via a door-to-door service.  There is even a Do-It-Yourself Instruction Guide to help families start a home oral history archive.  This project demonstrates a great commitment to shared humanity by soliciting recordings from a diverse array of voices. Their robust suite of initiatives aims to record the voices of African Americans, teachers, and those facing chronic illness, the loss of loved ones, memory loss, and more.

5. Exploratorium: The museum of science, art and human perception– Oppenheimer, Frank [1969], No associated institutions.

Exploratorium’s physical location is in San Francisco, but their online museum offers a far more vast collection of interactive exhibits, web features, and structured learning materials focusing on art, science, and human perception. The Exploratorium also doubles as an R&D lab, where they create, experiment, test, and build nearly everything in-house. The site’s ‘Explore’ tab contains online exhibits and activities related to astronomy & science, the material world, listening, culture, the human body, Earth, and more. You can do such things as look inside a tooth, learn how to read Mayan glyphs, study the origins of instruments and play listening memory games.  Instructions for many hands-on projects such as growing crystals in the sun, creating magnetic pendulums, and a homemade Bubbularium are included as well.

This site would be useful for students, educators, parents, museum professionals, artists, scientists, or anyone who is curious about virtually anything. Some exhibits require Flash and/or Quicktime plug-ins, which could hinder access for some. The way the dropdown navigation menu changes as you roll over tabs is very annoying to use, but otherwise, the site is slick and contains some really beautiful imagery.