Practicum: Shelley-Godwin Archive and Rossetti Archives

The Shelley-Godwin Archive

The Shelley-Godwin Archive is a prime example of the collaborative work that can become a “digital archive”. As is stated on the site’s Homepage, this archive is a digital collection of manuscripts from the Shelley-Godwin family. The layout of the site is not only accessible but extraordinarily educational. As the visitor scrolls through the site, they can learn not only about the history of this “talented” family of writers, but of the history of the digital archive itself. This is the perfect example of the type of collaborative work that was discussed during our week on digital projects. Not only did many scholars work on this archive, but there are a number of technologists and cultural heritage professionals that have contributed and continue to contribute to this work that made it a reality over the years.

As I stated before, not only is the archive educational, but it is extremely user-friendly. There is a brief, introductory video that takes the visitor through the entire site, what its purpose is, and how it can be utilized. Not only that, but there are multiple subsequent videos that discuss specific aspects of using the site, including reading the manuscripts, using unique features, and accessing the material. The manuscripts of the Shelley-Godwin family have been transcribed within the archive and can be seen side-by-side with the actual manuscript page, allowing the reader to fully grasp the importance of the works while simultaneously understanding the importance of such a group of work. As stated in the Owens article, “What Do you Mean by Archive? Genres of Usage for Digital Preservers”, there are many ways in which to describe the word “archive”, and the Shelley-Godwin Archive is the perfect example of what defines a “digital archive”.

Rossetti Archive

The Rossetti Archive is another example of not only a digital archive, but a hypermedia archive, as referenced in the McGann article. As the article explains, it is more out of necessity that this was the case because of the nature of the Rossetti documents. In order to digitize certain computational images, one needs to take advantage of this hypertext and hypermedia. The Rossetti Archive is a seen as an extremely dedicated work, having been done in multiple installments, starting in 1993 until 2008. With Kirschenbaum’s “Done” article in mind, we see another example with the Rossetti archives of how these projects are never truly finished. The Rossetti Archive was continuing its projects with helping develop the NINES project. The NINES project is strengthening and expanding the use of digital tools within scholarship. Relatively simple to navigate, the archive’s homepage tells the tale of the project itself, as well as the fact that the Rosetti archive “facilitates the scholarly study of Dante Gabriel Rossetti”.

A long and collaborative project, this archive is not only informational, but relatively easy to use. Like the Shelley-Godwin archive, it has a search function with advanced options. A visitor to the site also has the ability to browse chronologically through Rossetti’s works. The Rossetti Archive is really an impressive picture of the “respect des fondes” discussed in Jefferson Bailey’s article, “Disrespect des Fondes”, and is indicative of how and where the digital field of history, archives, and scholarship are moving.

2 Replies to “Practicum: Shelley-Godwin Archive and Rossetti Archives”

  1. I thought the Shelley-Godwin archive was fascinating (I majored in English as well as history in undergrad, so that stuff is my jam) but I wonder if it can really accurately be categorized as an archive. Theimer’s distinction between archives, special collections, and manuscript repositories seems relevant here. Is this more of a manuscript collection than an archive, and it’s just labelled as an archive because it was put together by people who aren’t archivists? Or does that distinction matter less in a digital context?

  2. The Rossetti Archive presents a model example of how a project can be completed, yet continue as you mention. The project outlined specific goals that needed to completed and then attained those goals in 2008. It achieved what many digital projects fail to do, create a plan and execute while remaining faithful to original intent despite spanning 15 years.

    However, the archive has recognized an opportunity to develop further and has taken advantage of that with NINES. Thanks to this development the archive will continue to be accessible and not be relegated to the list of outdated archives.

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