Spring 2004

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Cather Electronic Archive: Providing Online Access to Catheriana

by Katherine Walter, Chair, University of Nebraska–Lincoln Digital Initiatives & Special Collections

The Willa Cather Electronic Archive is an online research and teaching website produced by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln Cather Project and the UNL Libraries' Electronic Text Center. Currently located at http://cather.unl.edu and on the E-Text Centers digital archives at http://libr.unl.edu:2000, the Willa Cather Electronic Archive is a work in progress. The site will be moved to a digital humanities research server in the UNL Libraries this summer, so the first URL may change. If so, people will be directed to the new location.

In 2003, the Center initiated a number of technological changes on the site that are largely invisible to users. Three of Cather's novels, Alexander's Bridge, O Pioneers!, and My Antonia have been encoded following the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) document type definition, and using eXtensible Markup Language (XML). By following international standards of encoding, Cather's writings will be more easily searched, presented, and migrated as new technologies are developed. Gradually, all online texts on the Cather Electronic Archive will be converted from HTML to XML and presented using XSLT stylesheets. The transformations on the website are being performed by faculty and staff in the Electronic Text Center, and new texts are being created by faculty and interns in Cather studies.

In anticipation of the 9th International Seminar, information about the Bread Loaf, Vermont, conference was presented online. The Archive will continue to provide information about upcoming Cather events, including registration information. As a side benefit of events, "feature articles" on travel have been created. For example, in conjunction with the 9th International Seminar, many scholars from the Northeastern U.S. developed tour information concerning Cather sites that expanded the online resources available for Cather enthusiasts.

As a service to scholars, some archival materials are gradually being added to the Willa Cather Electronic Archive. UNL has been digitizing many photographs of Cather and of places that she traveled. Images from the Southwick and Slote collections are being mounted online as copyright permissions or physical rights are verified. Though many of the photos are from the University of Nebraska- Lincoln Libraries Archives/Special Collections, some are from the collections of the Nebraska State Historical Society and the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial. Information about how to contact the institutions for permissions to use images is provided.

Whats next? Scholars continue to work on the novels, and the next novel that we plan to encode is One of Ours. Work will continue on short stories, and a project relating to Cather's journalism is planned. Links to related online sites will be expanded, and we hope to continue developing the sections of the Cather Electronic Archive that are not yet live. The Cather Projects Electronic Archive welcomes contributions of images for the site as long as rights information is provided. For digitization specifications or for more information, please contact kwalter1@unl.edu.

Contributions of original text (such as articles) should be sent to the Cather Project for review.