Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts
Wheaton College
Digital History Project


Digital History Project Receives Start-Up Grant from NEH Office of Digital Humanities

Posted on April 1, 2011

The Wheaton College Digital History Project has been awarded a Level I Start-Up Grant from the Office of Digital Humanities at the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The following is a summary statement from the grant proposal:

Encoding Financial Records for Historical Research

The standard guidelines for scholarly markup of digitized sources, those of the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), do not provide adequate models for representing the semantic value of financial records. Nevertheless, various digitization projects have used TEI-compliant XML to encode manuscript collections that include financial documentation. And now a handful of projects have begun to use TEI as they turn attention to financial records per se, revealing a need for extended markup guidelines to increase the accessibility of these resources. We will organize a meeting of historians, archivists, and technologists as a first step toward developing standards for markup of transcribed text and the application of metadata that will allow for searching across collections of manuscript financial records. Ultimately, the process begun with this meeting will lead to an extension of current TEI guidelines to include a module on financial records.
This project will begin the process of adding a new dimension to the Text Encoding Initiative, standards for markup and metadata for manuscript financial records. A genre of primary sources that includes such materials as bills and receipts, ledgers, and cashbooks, financial records are abundant in traditional archives, but current practices for digitization fail to capture their meanings as fully as possible. Our project is a next step in producing digital archives for the study of history.
Statement of Humanities Significance
Over the long term, the process begun with the discussions proposed in this project will lead to standards for digitizing a rich yet currently inaccessible genre of manuscript historical records. By establishing standards for both markup of transcribed text and metadata that will facilitate searching across collections, this project will make possible the development of a rich digital archive that has the potential to open significant new lines of inquiry about economic and social history.

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