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Step forward for scholars

This article appears in the issue July/August 2005 [Volume 14, Issue 7]

The University of Virginia Press is using an XML content server from Mark Logic to support The Dolley Madison Digital Edition, an online academic research tool found here.

The Dolley Madison Digital Edition is described as the first complete publication of the nineteenth century First Lady's correspondence. Her notes and letters provide scholars, students and American history enthusiasts with insight into the creation of the federal government and life in America at that time. When complete, the edition will include the research, technical markup and conversion of more than 2,500 handwritten manuscripts, the vast majority of which were previously unpublished.

"The launch of The Dolley Madison Digital Edition represents an important event in scholarly publishing by enabling deep access to historical information and knowledge, fundamentally improving the way scholars conduct research," says Mark H. Saunders, the University of Virginia Press' electronic imprint manager.

The first installment of The Dolley Madison Digital Edition contains more than 700 letters through June 1836, and 1,800 additional letters will follow in periodic updates. Archived in XML, the Digital Edition offers search tools that allow users to perform simple or advanced searches by period, correspondent, topic or place. The letters also can be accessed directly through a comprehensive, sortable list or read in chronological order. Each letter appears with a summary, plus crosslinks to related letters and glossary entries for personal names and titles. The extensive glossary identifies more than 1,000 people and books referred to in the letters, and identifies places, eventually even including such information as the ships on which Dolley Madison embarked, to set each letter in the most accurate context possible.

"Technology has long tantalized historians with promises for the future. The Dolley Madison Digital Edition, the first offering from the University of Virginia Press' Electronic Imprint, makes good on all those promises … This is the future and it looks good," says Catherine Allgor, professor at the University of California at Riverside, and author of "Parlor Politics: In Which the Ladies of Washington Help Build a City and a Government."


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