Project Reviews

Early Americas Digital Archive
Created and maintained by Ralph Bauer at the University of Maryland at College Park, and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities

The Early Americas Digital Archive (EADA) is a collection of electronic texts and links to electronic texts originally published between 1492 and 1820 that is open to scholars and the public for research and teaching purposes. EADA, as a long-term project, is edited by Dr. Ralph Bauer at the University of Maryland at College Park, and is published and supported by the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities. It is unique as a literary archive in that it invites scholars from all disciplines to submit their editions of early American texts for publication, and as such, the archive reveals its commitment to "exploring the intersections between traditional humanities research and digital technologies."

The archive uses the digital medium to enhance humanities research in two ways. First, noting that much early American texts have been swept under the rug, so to speak, and not widely published, this archive takes advantage of the "cost efficiency and accessibility" of the digital medium to publish a comprehensive collection of early American works and make it available to readers for "free" (given, of course, that one has access to a computer and the internet). Theoretically, this is a respectable endeavor that has, as the archive attests, produced a useful and extensive collection of texts. Secondly, the archive presents a "Gateway to Early American Authors on the WEB" that supplements its own archive by providing a searchable database of early American authors on the internet. Thus, in addition to using texts as a source, the archive encourages users to use the internet and digital medium as a source for humanities research.

The archive's interface is particularly simple and accessible. The navigation bar gives users two main paths, which are the focus of the archive: the archive itself and the "gateway." These links take users directly to a database where they can begin searching/browsing by author or title. Keeping with its rule of simplicity, the archive offers only four more links to an introduction, contact information, news (which lists recently added texts) and home.

Overall, The Early Americas Digital Archive is an excellent source for humanist scholars and users of general interest. Not only does it offer an impressive collection of texts and a database for searching them, but it also directs users back to the internet to supplement and continue their research. It is easy to navigate and simple, keeping the texts and authors the focus of the website.

Amanda Kuhnel
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Reviewed: March 2007