Model Editions Partnership

CETH is a partner in the Model Editions Partnership (MEP), which has recently been awarded $247,397 by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission for the first 18 months of a three-year project which begins on July 1, 1995. The MEP is a consortium of seven documentary editing projects formed to establish a series of model electronic editions. David Chesnutt, Editor of the Papers of Henry Laurens, serves as project director. Susan Hockey (Director, CETH) and Michael Sperberg-McQueen (Editor of the Text Encoding Initiative) are co-coordinators with Chesnutt.

The seven edition projects are : The Legal Papers of Abraham Lincoln, The Papers of Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B Anthony, The Papers of Nathaniel Greene, The Papers of Henry Laurens, The Papers of Margaret Sanger, The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, and The Documentary History of the First Federal Congress.

Documentary editors were among the first scholars to take advantage of computer technology in the late 1970's, with the Laurens project leading the field and acting as a model for other projects. The MEP will build on this experience to provide a foundation for practical solutions to problems confronting scholarly edition projects as they move from printed to electronic editions.

The MEP will be working with both facsimile editions of manuscript documents and editions of searchable electronic text. Its goals are

  1. to develop new approaches for addressing questions of intellectual access and context
  2. to develop a generalized model for the process of preparing and delivering electronic editions
  3. to create a series of models which validate the first two goals
  4. to provide clear documentation of the process of creating electronic editions

The MEP will use the Text Encoding Initiative's markup to create an SGML archive for samples from each of the partner editions. Both CDROM and Internet models will be created from the archive.

The MEP's first task will be to determine what kind of scholarly tools are appropriate for electronic editions. How do we provide the same level of intellectual access and context as we now provide in printed books? The NHPRC grant will support site visits with each partner project to gain an understanding of how each project currently uses technology and to develop a sense of its scholarly objectives.

The three coordinators will then draft a "prospectus for electronic editions" for review by the partner projects and their technical staff. The draft will be circulated widely among the editing community and others interested, to ensure that the needs of the editorial community are met.

The second task is to develop a workable cost-effective means of creating an SGML archive which can be used for multiple forms of publication. The MEP will develop a subset of the TEI markup scheme designed specifically to meet the needs of documentary editors and will work with the partner projects to explore software solutions for automating the encoding and for converting wordprocessing files.

In later phases, the markup will be evaluated and refined by all the partnership, and full samples of between 100 and 250 pages for each project will be prepared as a sampler.

The partners will assess current delivery systems to develop a process for creating the editions for both CDROM and the Internet. These models will also be widely available for comment and evaluation.

The final phase will concentrate on the documentation which will encompass an explanation of the scholarly apparatus, encoding guidelines and methodology, and preparation and delivery of the models.

Besides participating in the development of the prospectus, CETH's role in the MEP will be to create the Internet editions. Susan Hockey will also chair the MEP's steering committee.

For further information contact:

David Chesnutt Department of History University of South Carolina Columbia, SC 29208 Phone: (803) 777-6525; Fax: (803) 777-4494; Email:

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