From September 14 to 17, the University of Virginia (UVA) hosted Human/Ties, a four-day celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). To explore and honor the vital role played by the humanities in today’s world, the forum brought together multiple University departments and programs, including the Washington Papers, as well as speakers and artists from across the country and around the world.
On September 15, Washington Papers and Center for Digital Editing editors Jennifer Stertzer, Erica Cavanaugh, and Adrina Garbooshian-Huggins participated in a workshop, “ACCESS: Evolving Methods in Making Cultural Heritage Accessible.” Hosted by UVA’s Scholars Lab, the workshop brought together more than a dozen digital humanities projects at the university. Through posters, computer displays, and personal interactions with workshop attendees, the editors demonstrated how primary documents can be made accessible, useful, and relevant to scholars and the public alike. They showed posters illustrating the Martha Washington and Family Papers projects, the George Washington Barbados Diary project, the Papers of George Washington project, and the George Washington Financial Papers project. The interactive Financial Papers website, which Garbooshian-Huggins demonstrated to attendees, received especially positive feedback.
“Notions of accessibility have changed and evolved over time, presenting editors with challenges as well as exciting opportunities,” said Stertzer. “This workshop gave us the chance to interact with our audience and learn more about the types of features they would like to see in our digital editions. This feedback helps us work toward achieving the goal of making cultural heritage accessible to the public, students, and scholars.”
Begun as letterpress volumes, and continuing today in both print and digital editions, the Washington Papers is the only project at UVA that the NEH has funded continuously since its initial gift to the Papers in 1971.