December 02, 2009 by Amanda Visconti

Online Archives: The Deena Larsen Collection and Omeka

(Reposted from my HASTAC blog)

Screenshot of the Deena Larsen Collection website at MITHThe Deena Larsen Collection at MITH

The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) just released the web presence for its Deena Larsen Collection of early electronic literature:

http://mith.umd.edu/larsen/

I created this website as part of the IMLS-funded Digital Humanities Model Internship; besides touting the awesomeness of the collection (a shower curtain/analog website! early electronic literature built in Hypercard! Mac Classic upon Mac Classic!), I'd like to mention the software I used to build the site. Omeka (created by the Center for History and New Media at George Mason, which also created the wonderful bibliographic tool Zotero...) is a CMS crafted specifically for use with any kind of collection, from archives and museums to course materials to cultural memory sites. Omeka offers a web interface for the non-tech-savvy, but is also infinitely customizable for those who know PHP. Check out their site if you're interested in building any kind of online artifact repository.



Here's MITH's official release on the website:

The Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) is very pleased to announce the release of a new Web site showcasing the Deena Larsen Collection we house and maintain:

http://www.mith.umd.edu/larsen

Deena Larsen, whose best-known works include the hypertexts Marble Springs and Samplers (both published by Eastgate Systems), has been active in the creative electronic writing community nearly since its inception in the early 1980s. She has also been a collector and de facto archivist for that community, amassing what she has described as electronic literature's "Great Library of Alexandria." In May 2007 she gave MITH the extraordinary gift of her personal collection of early-era computers, software, and digital files.

The collection includes not only Deena's own extensive literary output, but original and sometimes unpublished material by nearly every author in her circle, effectively making it a cross-section of electronic writing during its key formative years (roughly 1985-1995). The hardware in the collection consists of five Mac Classics, two Mac SEs, and a Mac Plus, and associated accessories; the physical media includes some 800 diskettes, as well as nearly 100 CD-ROMs and Zip disks. The collection also contains manuscripts, newspaper clippings, books, comics, manuals, notebooks, syllabi, catalogs, brochures, posters, conference proceedings, and ephemera. According to Matthew Kirschenbaum, Associate Director of MITH and Associate Professor of English at Maryland, "The arrival of Deenas collection at MITH furnishes us with invaluable source material which will further our in-house research in digital curation and preservation, as well as function as a unique resource for the growing number of researchers interested in early hypertext and electronic literature."

The site, built with Omeka, was designed by Amanda Visconti of the University of Michigan under the auspicices of the IMLS-funded Digital Humanities Model Internship program, which places iSchool students in working digital humanities centers. Kari Kraus, director of the program and Assistant Professor in Maryland's iSchool and English department, comments: "Amanda's work is a great example of the kind of collaboration and mutual exchange we're working to promote."