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Intimate Insights: Primary Sources of the American Founding Era

  • Posted by: Jutta Seibert
  • Posted Date: November 27, 2012
  • Filed Under: History

Are you or your students working on projects related to James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, Dolley Madison, Eliza Lucas Pinckney or Harriott Pinckney Horry? When you need to consult the print sets, do you typically need it at a time when the library is closed? Are you frustrated by the limitations of print indexes? If you answered in the affirmative to one or all of the above questions, then you will be glad to hear that the papers and correspondence of these five founding-era individuals are now available online via the American Founding Era digital collection. Published online by the University of Virginia Press, the content of the collection is based on the most recent critical editions, such as the 27 volumes set of the Papers of Alexander Hamilton edited by Harold C. Syrett, and it includes all editorial annotations. Also available are the papers of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, John Adams and documents related to the History of the Ratification of the Constitution. The papers of John Jay, John Marshall and Andrew Jackson will be added in the near future and will further enhance the value and importance of the collection.

Each collection includes an introduction to the digital edition with detailed information about content sources and editorial history. Collections can be browsed in chronological order or by corresponding print volume. Aside from 24/7 access, the digital editions present unique opportunities to scholars and students alike, making it easy to locate keywords and names in individual collections as well as to search simultaneously across the complete American Founding Era collection. Results are tagged with collection-specific icons which identify the source collection (see image at right). Each document includes the page numbers of the original print edition in brackets together with a page icon which will open a jpeg image of the print page (). Each document also includes a reference to the print volume, a canonical URL and a recommended citation.

Correspondents are indexed as authors and recipients. The correspondent search function has an auto-complete feature which brings up matching names and the number of available documents for each author and recipient (see image at left).

The records for the print editions in the library’s catalog include links to the online collection. A link to the American Founding Era collection has been added to the Databases A-Z list.

Questions or comments?  Contact me directly (jutta.seibert@villanova.edu) or post your comments online.

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Last Modified: November 27, 2012