A Digital Archive of ABC Books

Ben Johnston (Princeton University)

Arising from a small summer curricular innovation grant from Princeton University’s Center for Digital Humanities, the ABCBooks project showcases a successful collaboration between faculty, the Library, and technologists at the University. This digital archive of graphically-rich, historic ABC books culled from the University’s Cotsen Children’s Library serves as an online archive of these often rare and delicate books, but also as a teaching tool in Professor Bill Gleason’s very popular Children’s Literature course. First used in the Spring of 2014 with a collection 25 digitized and transcribed books, the website will again be used this coming Spring, augmented with an additional 29 books. In collaboration with the University’s Center for Digital Humanities, students and graduate teaching assistants in the course are given training and experience in the production of TEI-encoded metadata and transcriptions which in turn are added to the archive. In doing so, it is hoped that students gain some understanding of methods in the digital humanities, data modelling, curation, and the relationships between an encoded representation of a text and its associated search and display interfaces.

In the coming semester, students will additionally be able to semantically tag page images. It is planned that in future iterations of the site, these tags will be used to enrich the TEI-encoded transcriptions and lead to more elaborate search interfaces within the archive and foster in-class discussion concerning the content and historical significance of these often overlooked books.