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NEH Awards First JISC/NEH Transatlantic Digitization Collaboration Grants

Funding supports five U.S. institutions working on shared projects with scholars in the U.K.

WASHINGTON (March 26, 2008)—Tuesday afternoon, the National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) newly created Office of Digital Humanities announced the first JISC/NEH Transatlantic Digitization Collaboration Grant award recipients on behalf of the NEH and the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). The announcement was made by NEH Chairman Bruce Cole during an event at the Folger Shakespeare Library. The Folger Shakespeare Library is one of five JISC/NEH grant recipients—it received funding for its project, “Shakespeare Quartos Archive,” in collaboration with the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. A total of five projects received over $600,000 in funding.

“The JISC/NEH grant program encourages international collaboration on humanities projects of value to scholars worldwide,” said NEH Chairman Cole. “Award recipients in the U.S. and U.K. are working together to create digital archives, centralize holdings, and develop tools to improve humanities research online. These projects embody the best of the digital humanities and advance the mission of the Endowment.”

Other JISC/NEH grant recipients include the Internet Archive in San Francisco, CA; New York University; the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in Charlottesville, VA; and Tufts University. Representatives from the Internet Archive, New York University, and Tufts University attended yesterday’s event, during which attendees were given the opportunity to look at a selection of Shakespeare quartos.

“These projects demonstrate the great potential of collaboration between our two countries in the field of digitization. They bring together skills, expertise, and important scholarly content in ways that we hope and trust will deliver major benefits to scholars on both sides of the Atlantic,” said Dr. Malcolm Read, JISC Executive Secretary. “We are delighted to be working with the NEH on this digitization initiative and we look forward to seeing the fruits of these projects in due course.”

Inaugurated last year as part of the Endowment’s Digital Humanities Initiative, the JISC/NEH Transatlantic Digitization Collaboration Grant program is supported by both the NEH and the Higher Education Funding Council for England acting through the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). These grants provide combined funding of up to $240,000 for one year of development in the following areas: new digitization projects and pilot projects, the addition of important materials to existing digitization projects, or the development of infrastructure (either technical “middleware,” tools, or knowledge-sharing) to support U.S.-England digitization work. Each project is sponsored by both an American and an English institution, whose activities will be funded by NEH and JISC respectively.

The formation of the Endowment’s Office of Digital Humanities (ODH) also was announced during the event. In 2006, the NEH launched the Digital Humanities Initiative, a program encouraging and supporting projects that utilize or study the impact of digital technology on research, education, preservation, and public programming in the humanities. With the creation of ODH, the initiative is being made permanent as an office within the NEH. ODH will continue the work of the initiative and will help to coordinate the Endowment’s efforts in the area of digital scholarship.

A complete list of the projects announced can be found below:

The Folger Shakespeare Library

and the University of Oxford, with the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities at the University of Maryland and the Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham, plan to create the Shakespeare Quartos Archive, a freely-accessible, high-resolution digital collection of the seventy-five quarto editions of William Shakespeare's plays. The project will also develop an interactive interface and toolset for the detailed study of the quartos, with full-functionality applied to all thirty-two copies of one play, Hamlet, held at participating institutions, including the British Library, the University of Edinburgh Library, the Huntington Library, and the National Library of Scotland. ($119,598)

The Internet Archive in the United States and the Oxford Internet Institute and Hanzo in the United Kingdom plan to develop procedures and tools to improve the effectiveness of humanities research on the Web. This research and development effort promises to yield superior methods for indexing and analyzing the textual parts of larger digital collections, more focused browsing (“crawling”) of the Web, and unified access to data resources, i.e., the ability to search for information across multiple digital databases. ($106,395)

The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World at New York University and the Centre for Computing in the Humanities at King's College, London, plan to launch Concordia, a set of tools and procedures to enable seamless textual searches and the dynamic mapping of a variety of humanities collections. The pilot project will concentrate on large holdings of papyrological and epigraphic texts from North Africa during the Greek and Roman periods. ($129,828)

A team of scholars from the Digital Archaeological Archive of Comparative Slavery at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation in Virginia, the University of Southampton's Nevis Heritage Project, and the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool is working together on the St. Kitts-Nevis Digital Archaeology Initiative. Together, they plan to develop an integrated digital archive of diverse archaeological and historical data related to the experiences of slaves on sugar plantations in the Caribbean by digitizing and delivering on the Web information from two 18th-century plantations. ($132,832)

The Perseus Digital Library at Tufts University and the Internet Centre at Imperial College London plan to develop Philogrid, a Web resource for scholars of Classical Antiquity. The project would generate a digital collection of fragmentary writings of Greek historians that is designed to interact with multiple source editions; a repository of philological data about the Greco-Roman world; and set of procedures that draws on the recipient’s experience in processing textual materials from Perseus but that can also be extended to other digital collections. ($119,992)

The Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) is a joint committee of the U.K. further and higher education funding bodies and is responsible for supporting the innovative use of information and communication technology (ICT) to support learning, teaching, and research. It is best known for providing the JANET network, a range of support, content and advisory services, and a portfolio of high-quality resources. Information about JISC, its services and programs can be found at www.jisc.ac.uk, or contact Philip Pothen by email at p.pothen@jisc.ac.uk.

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About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.

Media Contacts: Office of Communications at (202) 606-8446 or info@neh.gov