Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Founders On-Line: The Rotunda Project

The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the grant-making arm of the U.S. National Archives, in partnership with Documents Compass at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities has issued a press release announcing that "5,000 previously unpublished documents from our nation's founders are now online through Rotunda, the digital imprint of The University of Virginia Press." The release continues:
The ROTUNDA Founders Early Access project makes available for the first time letters and other papers penned by important figures such as James Madison, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. The Founders Early Access portion of the site allows users to read, search, and browse the newly transcribed documents, and is available at no cost to users,

In 2008, Congress urged the National Archives to investigate ways to make the Founders Papers more readily available to historians, scholars, and the general public at no cost to researchers. As long-time funders of the print editions of the Founding Fathers documentary projects, the NHPRC worked with the editorial teams and supported a pilot demonstration project through Documents Compass, a nonprofit organization designed to assist in the digital production of historical documentary editions.

Over the past ten months, the pilot has transcribed and completed basic transcription verification for roughly 5,000 documents. These transcriptions will be fully verified, and the editorial teams will provide explanatory annotation as they proceed with their work. Each completed volume of a documentary edition contains roughly 500 documents and provides notations that identify historical figures and events to shed light on the papers' meaning and significance.***

"There is much to discover here," said Penelope Kaiserlian, director of the Press. "Take a look, for example, at Thomas Jefferson's letter to James Madison on August 30, 1823, when the elderly Jefferson contests the memory of 88-year-old John Adams regarding the creation of the Declaration of Independence. Historians will already know this letter, but now anyone can easily find this readable version."
Hat tip: H-Law
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