Founders Online: ROTUNDA

From the National Archives press release:

NATIONAL ARCHIVES HELPS FOUNDING FATHERS GO ONLINE

WASHINGTON, DC. The National Historical Publications and Records
Commission (NHPRC), the grant making arm of the National Archives, in
partnership with Documents Compass at the Virginia Foundation for the
Humanities, is pleased to announce 5,000 previously unpublished
documents from our nation’s founders are now online through Rotunda,
the digital imprint of The University of Virginia Press.

The ROTUNDA Founders Early Access project makes available for the
first time letters and other papers penned by important figures such
as James Madison, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson.  The Founders
Early Access portion of the site allows users to read, search, and
browse the newly transcribed documents, and is available at no cost to
users.  See http://rotunda.upress.virginia.edu:8080/founders/FOEA.html

In 2008, Congress urged the National Archives to investigate ways to
make the Founders Papers more readily available to historians,
scholars, and the general public at no cost to researchers.  As
long-time funders of the print editions of the Founding Fathers
documentary projects, the NHPRC worked with the editorial teams and
supported a pilot demonstration project through Documents Compass, a
nonprofit organization designed to assist in the digital production of
historical documentary editions.

Over the past ten months, the pilot has transcribed and completed
basic transcription verification for roughly 5,000 documents. These
transcriptions will be fully verified, and the editorial teams will
provide explanatory annotation as they proceed with their work.  Each
completed volume of a documentary edition contains roughly 500
documents and provides notations that identify historical figures and
events to shed light on the papers’ meaning and significance.

“This is an important stage in the process,” said Kathleen Williams,
Executive Director of the NHPRC.  “We have been looking for ways to
help the public gain access to these documents sooner and to assist
the editorial projects in completing the comprehensive documentary
editions.  This work advances those goals.”

“There is much to discover here,” said Penelope Kaiserlian, director
of the Press.  “Take a look, for example, at Thomas Jefferson’s letter
to James Madison on August 30, 1823, when the elderly Jefferson
contests the memory of 88-year-old John Adams regarding the creation
of the Declaration of Independence.  Historians will already know this
letter, but now anyone can easily find this readable version.”

The Founders historical documentary editions include the papers of
George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, Alexander Hamilton,
Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison, as well as the Documentary
History of the Ratification of the U.S. Constitution, the first
Federal Congress, and the first Supreme Court.  Rotunda is publishing
digital editions of some of these publications in its American
Founding Era Collection.

“Generations of scholars, historians, and teachers will use these
documents to tell the American story from its grand beginnings,” added
Williams. “We will look back in wonder at the effort of countless
scholars to create this work, a national monument to the founding of
our nation. Transcribing documents and publishing them online at an
early stage makes more of this treasure available sooner, and we look
forward to the day when the entire collection is fully annotated and
complete.”

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