The ultimate goal of Civil War Governors of Kentucky is to create a digital research environment within which a user can encounter the past multi-dimensionally through the documents and the powerful annotation network that links the documents together. The next step is to deliver approximately 1,500 documents, annotated and set within dense social and geographic networks. These documents, the first of a projected 40,000, will demonstrate how CWGK will shape the ways researchers, students, and teachers will explore the past in the future. To this end, CWGK was awarded $62,400 in the May 2016 cycle of National Historical Publications & Records Commission (NHPRC) funding. This grant will run from October 2016 to September 2017. It will support that next phase of work: publishing an annotation interface of 1,500 fully edited and linked documents.
Because the basic elements of Omeka as a document viewing, collections management, and curatorial apparatus are unquestionably solid, CWGK intends to build its annotation interface around the existing Omeka site rather than develop an entirely new interface. On one level, this is practical. The Omeka site is visually attractive and functional; there is little incentive to rebuild from the ground up in another platform.
Developing further CWGK products in Omeka means a handful of changes for the existing site. For one, the Early Access branding must be changed. The project had always intended to keep the Omeka site live as a curatorial and teaching platform after the full edition was completed and had decided to establish the URL as discovery.civilwarvgovernors.org rather than earlyaccess.civilwargovernors.org. Thus, when the first batch of annotated documents goes live in 2017, the site will become, simply, Discovery.
The existing 10,000 documents will by no means go away as the first 1,500 annotated documents roll out. Rather, CWGK will mark each of the 1,500 which feature an authoritative transcription and are linked together by the annotation plugin. If a user wants to query the entire database of annotated and not-yet-annotated documents, they can, but they will also be free to use the Solr search fields to limit their searches to only annotated documents or only the annotations themselves. Using the faceting features already built into the site, the user can browse the annotated set of documents as a separate (and constantly growing) edition, or can broaden their search to see those documents in the context of the full database.
Using funds from the NHPRC, CWGK is working with the developers at Brumfield Labs to develop an annotation management tool, called MashBill (read more here). This web application will allow editors and remote Graduate Research Associates to work with the published documents on the web. Users will highlight the names of people, organizations, places, and geographical features in the Omeka item view page, and MashBill will allow them to link those names to existing entity records or create new ones. MashBill will export unique TEI-XML files for each named entity, which can be uploaded into Omeka as individual items. MashBill will also insert reference tags into the TEI-XML of each document, and CWGK will modify the Omeka style sheet to recognize those reference tags as links to the appropriate entity item. Rather than annotations that are appended to each document, the CWGK database of people, organizations, places, and geographical features will live as unique items linked to documents and one another within the Omeka interface.
CWGK has an existing procedure for importing large batches of TEI-XML documents, which can be modified to fit the upload needs for the entity records. The more significant modifications will come in modifying the item view interface to recognize hyperlinks and display the annotations and their accompanying metadata.
The CWGK staff and the Kentucky Historical Society believe that the framework of this Omeka site is sufficiently robust and flexible to handle a planned 40,000 primary documents and hundreds of thousands of identifiable entity records. To preview what a small batch of annotated documents and their associated entity records may look like, visit the “Networking Caroline” exhibit.
Omeka Report Table of Contents
Future of this Site