Baldock – Question 2
2To what extent do previous representations (such as editions) of the archives with which you work – or the lack thereof – affect new representations of them?
British Library Scholarship Student and PhD Student in English – University of Sheffield
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Wendy Cope’s archive was only recently acquired by the British Library in 2011; therefore, perhaps unsurprisingly, there are no existing editions of Cope’s letters or emails. Now that a large proportion of contemporary writers’ correspondence is likely to be conducted and archived digitally, this raises questions about what form future editions of writers’ correspondence might or should take.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Although there are currently no precedents for editions of email, digital editions of paper correspondence are increasing, and they offer a model for what an edition of a born-digital archive might look like in the future. Digital editions are often freely accessible online, dynamic, flexible, and more complete than their printed counterparts. Using resources such as Vincent Van Gogh: The Letters; Bess of Hardwick’s Letters: The Complete Correspondence c. 1550-1608; and the Olive Schreiner Letters Online, scholars can search databases in a number of ways including by topic, date, or correspondent. Furthermore, in the case of the Van Gogh materials it is possible to isolate letters that contain sketches.1
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 A future edition of a writer’s hybrid or born-digital correspondence might then draw on the flexibility of existing digital editions to allow its users to browse and manipulate digital documents in a number of ways. Researchers might search for only those emails that contain attachments, or view visualizations of a writers’ correspondence network by using email metadata.2
¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 However, it is worth nothing that there are still myriad issues relating to privacy and data protection to overcome before we see contemporary writers’ email in published form, whether in print or online. In my view, these issues make the contemplation of a digital edition of a writer’s email something of a moot point at present. Much of the information contained in email archives inevitably relates to living individuals, and thus institutions like the British Library must balance the need to protect an individual’s privacy, and to restrict any sensitive material, with the desire to make such collections available to researchers.
- ¶ 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0
- Leo Jansen, Hans Luijten, Nienke Bakker, eds., Vincent van Gogh – The Letters (Amsterdam & The Hague: Van Gogh Museum & Huygens ING, 2009), accessed October 2013, http://vangoghletters.org; Alison Wiggins et al., eds., Bess of Hardwick’s Letters: The Complete Correspondence, c.1550-1608 (University of Glasgow, 2013), accessed October 2013, http://www.bessofhardwick.org; Liz Stanley et al., eds., Olive Schreiner Letters Online (University of Edinburgh, 2012), accessed October 2013, http://www.oliveschreiner.org/. [↩]
- See, for example, a visualization of Robert Creeley’s email network created by archivists at Stanford University, https://dhs.stanford.edu/visualization/robert-creeley-e-mail-correspodence-network/. [↩]