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"I have nothing to do here, but to take the Air, enquire for News, talk Politicks and write Letters."

John Adams to Abigail Adams, 30 June 1774

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Almost there...

The end of the Adams slip file conversion project is fast approaching, and the digital catalog will be launched shortly. For some of us here at the Massachusetts Historical Society, it's been all Adams all the time.

The MHS, of course, already offers a variety of online resources related to the Adams family, from digitized letters with transcriptions to digital editions of print volumes. The Adams Electronic Archive contains images and transcriptions of over 1,000 letters between John and Abigail Adams, as well as John's diaries and autobiography. The voluminous diaries of John Quincy Adams have also been digitized, and his line-a-day diaries are the subject of our very popular JQA Twitter project. The Adams Papers Digital Editions reproduce 32 of the print volumes published by the Adams Papers Editorial Project, complete with footnotes and intertextual links.

Navigating through all of these pages can be confusing, and we're hoping the digital catalog will help to mitigate that problem and function as a kind of "clearing house" for Adams researchers. Because the catalog contains item-level descriptive data for every known Adams family manuscript, it's the perfect vehicle for linking to individual digitized documents and online transcriptions, wherever they currently "live." Public researchers, as well as Adams editors, will be able to retrieve a specific record, click on a link, and--voila!--read the document itself.

So, to that end, I spent the last several days adding links to hundreds of individual records using web forms in the dynamic interface. Still to be tackled are links to all the diaries of John and John Quincy Adams. Of course, only a fraction of the items described in the catalog are available in digital format, so it will be important to make that clear. Web developer Bill Beck will design the public interface so that users can limit their search to only those items available online.

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