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University of Virginia Library Receives $500,000 Grant From The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

July 23, 1999 -- The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has given the University of Virginia Library a $500,000 grant to fund Phase II of the Early American Fiction digitization project.

Phase I, a Mellon-funded World Wide Web archive of more than 560 volumes of American prose fiction from 1789-1850, is near completion after three years of work in the library's Special Collections Department and the Electronic Text Center. Phase II will carry the digital archive into the years 1851-1875, creating preservation-quality images and fully searchable texts, as well as supporting materials for scholarship and teaching. The books being digitized come from the Special Collections held in Alderman Library, primarily from the Clifton Waller Barrett Library, one of the world's most complete collections of American literature.

According to University Librarian Karin Wittenborg, "this new grant by the Mellon Foundation allows us to build on the experience of the Early American Fiction Phase I project to make an increasingly useful literary archive. We are gratified by this recognition of our technical expertise and the enduring value of the Barrett Collection."

Phase II will make available online texts from such writers as Louisa May Alcott, Samuel Clemens, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe and some 90 other 19th century novelists. Students and scholars from around the world will be able to view rare first editions of American classics such as "Moby Dick" and "The Scarlet Letter" on their home or office computers. Digital access to every page of a book, including covers and endsheets, can replace a visit to Special Collections to examine rare editions, thus aiding in the preservation of these valuable resources.

Among other advantages of the Early American Fiction digitization project is the creation of teaching guides, with links to digital biographies, maps, photographs, manuscripts, and other materials for use in instruction and faculty projects. The Mellon grant will support two graduate fellows to coordinate this work.

The grant will also support a conference in the summer of 2001 to bring key American literary scholars together to explore the usage of rare book digital texts and archives.

For more information about the Early American Fiction digitization project, contact David Seaman at dms8f@virginia.edu or at (804) 924-3230.

Contact: Melissa Norris, (804) 924-4254.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: please contact the Office of University Relations at (804) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (804) 924-7550.
SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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