Libraries at University of Nebraska-Lincoln



Brett Barney

Date of this Version



Published in Literary and Linguistic Computing , March 24, 2005 [online]. Copyright 2005 by Brett Barney, Mary Ellen Ducey, Andrew Jewell, Kenneth Price, Brian Pytlik Zillig, and Katherine L. Walter. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of ALLC and ACH.


In order to organize the widely dispersed manuscripts of Walt Whitman, The Walt Whitman Archive, in partnership with the University of Nebraska- Lincoln Libraries, has utilized the power of Encoded Archival Description (EAD) to create a single, scholarly enhanced guide to Whitman’s poetry manuscripts. This integrated finding guide to Whitman’s poetry manuscripts includes item-level description, links to repository guides that provide both location information and collection context, links to digital images of the manuscripts, and links to Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) transcriptions. In creating such a guide, we had to work cooperatively across disciplines and institutions, expand the use of EAD, and address how best to integrate description and transcription (EAD and TEI files). This essay describes our procedure as we created the integrated guide. From collecting finding aids and creating partnerships with other institutions, to developing a proper encoding standard and establishing good cross-department working relations, our project has embodied many of the benefits and challenges of digital work in the humanities. By identifying our procedures, and by laying out our future hurdles, we hope we can advance knowledge about Whitman and about how scholars and archivists can collaborate effectively to advance research, improve access, and realize the potential of EAD.