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Uncommon Sense

By oieahc · February 13, 2019

Digital Collection Fellowship updates

digital projects 7 min read

2019 marks the third year of the Lapidus Initiative for Digital Collections Fellowships. The recent awards to Benjamin Bankhurst and Kyle Roberts for “The Maryland Loyalist Project,” Julia Gaffield, Jennifer Palmer, and Patrick Tardieu for “Endangered Colonial Imprints in the Bibliothèque Hatïenne des Pères du Saint-Esprit: The Archives Décoloniales of the Age of Revolutions,” and to Daniel Webb for the digitization of documents relating to Apache (Ndé) history, bring the number of projects funded to eight. As always, the OI thanks the Lapidus Initiative Advisory Group (Joe Adelman, Matt Cohen, Liz Covart, Max Edelson, Molly Hardy, and Simon P. Newman) for their work in helping to publicize the program as well as evaluate all applications submitted.

Here are updates on projects awarded fellowships during the first two years of the program.


Rosalind J. Beiler, University of Central Florida, partnered with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to digitize volumes 1 and 2 of the Pemberton Papers (1641–1702). These materials from Phineas Pemberton and his descendants document Pennsylvania’s early Quaker history. Since completing the digitization of the Pemberton Papers in July 2018, the group has made steady progress on developing People, Religion, Information Networks and Travel: The Dynamics of Migration in the Early Modern World (PRINT). The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is currently in the process of shifting its Digital Asset Management System so the Pemberton Papers are now marked as digitized in the catalog and are available to the public upon request. The UCF team will be making the letters available to the public through the UCF Library’s STARS (Showcase of Text, Archives, Research and Scholarship) by early May 2019. An additional project to transcribe the Pemberton Papers via crowdsourcing is in the planning stages. The long-term goal is to create an internationally accessible digital archive of more than 2,000 letters based on collections of correspondence in Philadelphia, Amsterdam, Germany, and London, that will demonstrate how dissenting religious communities, especially those of Mennonites, Quakers, and Pietists, shaped the dynamic patterns of migration in the Atlantic world.

William Fenton, Fordham University, partnered with the American Antiquarian Society to further his project Digital PaxtonThe project expands upon John Raine Dunbar’s The Paxton Papers (1957) by making available a more expansive and diverse corpus of primary source, contextual, and teaching materials. Digital Paxton offers a window into the colonization and conquest of the trans-Appalachian West, eighteenth-century print and visual culture, and Pennsylvania on the eve of the American Revolution. As a digital collection, the project benefits from the contributions of 18 cultural heritage institutions, including an entirely new section devoted to newsprint, made possible by the Lapidus Initiative. Digital Paxton continues to evolve as an educational resource. Alongside several lesson plans for higher education, including a crowdsourced transcription platform, the project recently gained lessons for high school history teachers. The project will continue to grow as an educational resource via a summer institute co-sponsored by the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage (July-August 2019).


Andrew Sluyter and Lauren Coats, Louisiana State University, digitized approximately 1400 surveys housed by LSU Libraries that mapped land claims in Spanish Louisiana at the close of the eighteenth and opening of the nineteenth centuries. These surveys provide a comprehensive overview of the patterns of land and life in Spanish Louisiana on the eve of its integration into the territory of the United States. They are now available online as part of Louisiana Digital Library as the Pintado Papers.

Nicholas Gliserman digitized, transcribed, and encoded the diaries and correspondence created by members of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends in the course of establishing and supporting a Quaker mission to the Seneca Country between the years 1795 and 1820. This manuscript collection aids in documenting Native-Quaker relations in the eighteenth century. The records are housed at the Quaker & Special Collections of Haverford College and were added to Haverford’s existing Beyond Penn’s Treaty website.

Stephen Mullen digitized the Stirling of Keir collection held at Glasgow City Archives at the Mitchell Library with the assistance of archivist Dr. Irene O’Brien. The resulting online collection, titled Scotland’s Slavery Past, includes mid-eighteenth-century records, such as invoices, letter and account books, associated with two sugar plantations in Jamaica-Hampden in St. James and Frontier in St. Mary. The digitization of these sources allow historians to compare economic and social conditions of sugar estates across the Atlantic world as well as consider the lived experiences of master and enslaved in the British Caribbean.

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