Reference: First Phase of Emily Dickinson Archive Now Live Online
About the Archive: In Their Own Words
Emily Dickinson Archive makes high-resolution images of Dickinson’s surviving manuscripts available in open access, and provides readers with a website through which they can view images of manuscripts held in multiple libraries and archives. This first phase of the EDA includes images for the corpus of poems identified in The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Variorum Edition, edited by R. W. Franklin (Cambridge: Belknap Press of the Harvard University Press, 1998).
Dickinson’s manuscript page is the focus of Emily Dickinson Archive. A search of the full text or first line from a poem produces images of all the manuscript versions of the poem, where multiple versions survive. Readers have the option of selecting from a historical array of editors’ transcriptions of these autograph materials into printed form, and of viewing a transcription by physical line or by poetic line, depending upon the editor’s choice. Additionally, readers can use the site’s tools to create their own transcriptions, annotate images, or, by zooming in, look closely at Dickinson’s handwriting.
This site is not a new edition of Dickinson’s poems. It is, as its name says, an archive that seeks to make available in one virtual place those resources that seem central to the study of Dickinson’s work: images of her manuscripts; a selection of editions of those manuscripts; and selected print and electronic resources that serve as a starting point for the study of Dickinson’s manuscripts. It should be viewed as a resource from which scholarship can be produced, rather than a work of scholarship itself.
The archive’s “About” page includes information on content sources and metadata.
The “Resources” section features a list/links to, “Dickinson’s lifetime appearances in print and the full text of public-domain editions.”
Also available are search tips, an FAQ, and a list of partner organizations for content/technology. Also available is a list of funders and advisory board members.
Direct to Emily Dickinson Archive
Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences spokesperson Colin Manning wrote in an email Tuesday that the project was collaborative.
“Harvard made it a point to reach out to all of these institutions and organizations, including Amherst College, in an effort to bring together manuscripts from multiple libraries and archives, which makes this new site a powerful tool for students, scholars and readers,” he wrote.
Yet when reached by phone Tuesday, involved officials said that the project, which also engaged a handful of other collaborators in the region and across the country, has been riddled with disagreements since even before its inception.
Since planning began two years ago, there has been a revival of decades-old tensions between Harvard and Amherst, which hold the two largest Dickinson collections. And sometimes-bitter debate has flared on the advisory board, with some members saying that Harvard’s choice of which materials to include provides too narrow an answer to a basic question: Just what counts as an Emily Dickinson “poem,” anyway?
“The scholarship with any major figure produces factions and divisions,” said Christopher Benfey, a Dickinson scholar at Mount Holyoke College, who is not involved with the project. “But with Dickinson, the truly bizarre thing is the quarrel has been handed to generation after generation after generation.”
About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.