Traditionally humanities researchers have worked independently. Yet as this model of scholarship is changing to a more collaborative model, researchers are using social networks to support an open exchange of knowledge. Several new digital collaborative projects are providing the tools for this new scholarship and are incorporating high-quality primary resource collections.
When the University of Iowa Libraries’ collection of letters by British writer James Henry Leigh Hunt went online last year, this was one step of many to provide a high-quality primary resource necessary for digital humanities scholarship. Leigh Hunt Online: The Letters digital collection, which has been built with the support of a $20,000 grant from the Gladys Krieble Delma Foundation, will eventually include 1,600 autograph letters from 1790-1858, as well as transcripts and catalog records for those letters.
Unlike digitization projects that offer only the text of correspondence, this digital collection will present images of the autograph letters, be full-text searchable and provide scholarly transcripts of the letters. These enhancements are part of reason that Leigh Hunt Online has been accepted into the NINES (Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-century Electronic Scholarship) project.
NINES is a scholarly organization whose primary goal is establishing an integrated publishing environment for aggregated, peer-reviewed online scholarship centered in nineteenth-century studies. Currently NINES links records for 300,000 digital objects from projects hosted at many different institutions. For the Leigh Hunt Online collection, information about the author, date and subject of the letters, as well as a thumbnail image, will be available at NINES, while a durable url will lead the searcher directly from NINES to our digital collection. As well as providing another portal for discovery, NINES enhances the digital collections it aggregates by providing tools that aid in collation and comparative analysis of electronic resources.