Documentary Editing, Association for


Date of this Version


Document Type



Documentary Editing: Journal of the Association for Documentary Editing, Volume 31: 2010 ISSN 0196-7134


© 2010 The Association for Documentary Editing. Used by permission.


As with many digital archives, The 19th-Century Digital Concord Archive (CDA) started as a website utilizing simple technology and has evolved to a more technologically advanced scholarly site. The CDA joins an interdisciplinary team from the Department of English, Texas A&M University; the Digital Humanities Initiative, the College of Liberal Arts, Texas A&M University; the Map and GIS Collections and Services, Texas A&M University Libraries; and the Concord Free Public Library, Concord, Massachusetts, in the development of infrastructures that allow the entities to share metadata easily, develop innovative, visually-based search functions, and make visible and accessible the cultural record of Concord, Massachusetts, in an interactive, free-access digital archive. This project leverages resources and skills across the team to develop a model of interaction between academic, museum-and-library, and community partners, developing multiple ways of displaying information about the town of Concord that will encourage innovative scholarly research. Materials slated for inclusion in the archive include literary texts, historical documents, maps, photographs, census materials, educational minutes, broadsides, physical artifacts, and town records. Concord figures centrally in critical discussions of nineteenth-century literature, philosophy, abolition, women’s literature and history, architecture, and government. Scholarly production reflects the importance of this location. Currently, WorldCat lists over 500 books published since 2000 that include Concord in their description. When the search is expanded to include figures that lived or worked in Concord, the numbers grow exponentially. Concord is also an interesting test case for this work as it is a location that helped to define the critical framework of American literature and history. The depth of this small town’s historical record proves important to the study of literature, history, government, architecture, philosophy, digital humanities and other fields. By digitizing a broad range of materials we will provide scholars with additional materials to rethink the way in which we conceptualize these fields. Concord is an interesting choice for a digital archive as it bridges the divide between canonical, well-studied figures and unknown figures that flesh out the historical and literary record. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, and Bronson Alcott resided in Concord and interacted with those groups less frequently represented by digital archives: free African-Americans, Irish immigrants, the poor, and the criminal class. In addition to the tremendous scholarly interest in Concord, Concord attracts broad general interest as an historical tourism center. The booming tourism trade attracts tens of thousands of visitors a year, many of whom explore Concord virtually before their visit. Given the interest in nineteenth-century Concord, the Concord archive should experience tremendous use and generate a substantive impact. Documentary Editing 31 36