Developed by University of Oxford faculty and staff under auspices of the Bodleian Libraries and first released in 2008, Electronic Enlightenment is a comprehensive collection of letters and other correspondence with scholarly annotations providing a unique viewpoint of the early modern time period and its residents. Covering Europe, the Americas, and portions of Asia from the 17th through the 19th centuries, the EE project is, in its own words, “reconnecting the first global social network”.
Electronic Enlightenment has been reviewed in The Charleston Advisor.1 It also was featured as one of the Case Studies in Sustainability by Ithaka S + R with funding from the JISC Strategic Content Alliance. An update to the case studies, released in 2011, noted the impact of the economic downturn on the sustainability models of various projects including Electronic Enlightenment.2
Sources for this review include information publicly posted or obtained directly from the publisher, data collected by CRL staff and members, and examination of the digital collection when possible. Other sources are noted where cited.
Covering Europe, the Americas, and portions of Asia from the 17th through the 19th centuries, the EE project is, in its own words, “reconnecting the first global social network”. According to the director of the project, Dr. Robert V. McNamee, “Tens of thousands of fully annnotated letters, some from definitive scholarly editions, others edited and published exclusively in EE, are uniquely integrated chronologically and geographically to recreate the conversations that gave rise to the modern world. Thousands of correspondents are identified and provided with biographical notes, while increasing numbers of maps, graphs, translations and lesson plans (the latter written by academics using EE) are provided to help students, teachers and researchers understand and make best use of the depth and breadth of information in this primary-source collection. EE welcomes submissions for the publication of additional letters (from one letter to thousands of letters), and accepts new and corrected biographical notes and annotations as part of its regular technical and content updates.”3
At least sixty printed editions totaling 190 volumes of manuscript correspondence have been digitized and augmented with an “nts” database of annotations. The database currently includes over 59,000 letters and documents, with more than 100,000 correspondent entries and over 250,000 scholarly annotations. The major languages represented by the manuscripts are English (45%) and French (45%), with other documents in Dutch, German, Greek, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Swedish. Dekker in The Charleston Advisor notes that “While the project originally chronicled . . . European thought, more American content is being added . . . as of February 2011, there are 517 American writers . . . [compared with] 111 Dutch, 2107 English, 2214 French, 217 German, 179 Italian, 50 Russian, 415 Scottish, and 575 Swiss.”4
Future content under exploration with various archival collections includes correspondence from musicians, scientists, and physicians.5
The addition of a digital publishing platform is intended to expand the scope of content at minimal cost through distributed contributions. “The project leaders have invited the community not only to assist in locating this correspondence in special collections, but also to add scholarly commentary and other born-digital material to it . . . To date, six collections of correspondence have been offered to EE, bypassing traditional publication through an academic press. A review board will be cxreated to assess the material.”6
Technical platform & interface
The retooled website, which launched in 2010, includes new tools, such as MARC records and links to WorldCat for secondary sources. Value-added end-user tools include links to Google Earth and an “EE classroom” with curriculum resources. There is also a digital publishing platform, as noted under Collection Content.
The project’s distribution model is based on a partnership between the Bodleian Library and Oxford University Press for marketing and distribution. Currently the product is available on a subscription basis, but despite a 100% renewal rate the underlying effectiveness of subscriptions for cost sustainability is under review. The project and Oxford University Press “are developing plans to offer a perpetual-access licence in addition to renewable subscriptions. This is a priority for OUP because it has noticed that this type of purchasing arrangement is preferred in Germany and the Far East, and is gaining in acceptance in the United States . . . However, as of early 2011, there were still some technology and rights-clearance issues to address in order to implement this model.”7
1 Jennifer Dekker, “Electronic Enlightenment,” Advisor Reviews, The Charleston Advisor November 11, 2010, revised February 15, 2011. Accessed October 2011, http://charleston.publisher.ingentaconnect.com/content/charleston/chadv/...
2 “Electronic Enlightenment: Outreach or Outsource? The Benefits and Challenges of Partnership,” Ithaka S + R (Case Study Update 2011). Accessed October 25, 2011, http://www.ithaka.org/ithaka-s-r/research/case-studies-in-sustainability....
3 Email correspondence, June 27, 2011.
4 Dekker, op. cit.
5 Case Study Update, op. cit.
Direct from Publisher
|Subjects covered||Correspondence of literary and political figures, as well as the everyday people they corresponded with|
|Geographic coverage||North and South America, Europe, and the Far East|
|Chronological coverage||Early 17th c.mid–19th c.|
|P||Source formats||Manuscript and printed materials|
|P||Total titles||N/A (from 60 editions of correspondence in 190 volumes)|
|P||Total pages||more than 59,000 letters and documents (from over 7200 individuals)|
|Digital collection launch date||2008|
|Update frequency||Monthly additions, with regular quarterly updates|
|P||Major languages||Dutch, English (45%), French (45%), German, Greek, Italian, Latin, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish|
|Browser compatibility||Firefox, IE 6+, Safari|
|P||Authentication options||IP/Shibboleth/Library card/username+password/cookie|
|Archiving solution – master files||N/A|
|Archiving solution – derivative files||N/A|
|Availability in web discovery tools||N/A|
|Open URL target||Y|
|Federated searching, z39.50||N/A|
|Local host option||N|
|Search full text||Y|
|Advanced search (fielded)||Y|
|Search within results||N|
|Limit results by dates and/or document types||Y|
|Display highlighted search terms||Y|
|Display snippet -- search term in context||N|
|Print page||Y (document only; notes can be printed separately)|
|Print full document||N/A|
|Annotation tools||Y (text annotations are provided, but no tools given for the user to annotate. Annotations may be submitted directly to EE)|
|Restrictions on use||Terms: http://www.eenlightenment.com./legal/index.html|
|Publisher / Distributor||Oxford University Press|
|Address||Electronic Enlightenment Project Bodleian Libraries University of Oxford|
|url ; contact email||http://www.e-enlightenment.com ::firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Multiple year payments option||N/A|
|List of purchasers available||N/A|
|Sample license available||N/A|
|P||MARC records purchase fee||MARC21 records offered free from website|
|Price tier basis||N/A|