Editing Modernism in Canada


August 23, 2013

A Year of Whalley

Since May of 2012, Michael DiSanto (Algoma University) and I have been collaborating on an open-access, online database of primary materials that includes scans of Whalley’s poetry manuscripts and typescripts, related letters, personal papers, and photographs. The database, which was adapted from the Algoma University Archive (AUA) and the Shingwauk Residential School Centre, built by Robin Isard, the eSystems Librarian, and Rick Scott, the Library Technologies Specialist, is connected to the open access website Michael edits and manages, www.georgewhalley.ca. The database is RAD (Rules for Archival Description), OAI (Open Archives Initiative), and Dublin Core compliant. This means the materials collected by the project can be easily moved into almost any library or archival database via OAI protocols. With the cooperation of the Queen’s University Archives (QUA) and the Whalley estate, the database is used to collect Whalley materials together in one location and make them accessible from anywhere on the internet. This database will serve as the foundation for subsequent digital and print editions of Whalley’s works, the first of which is a digital edition of selected materials that will provide rich insights into George Whalley’s creative process as a poet. This digital collection will serve as the counterpart to the scholarly print edition of Whalley’s collected poems that Michael is editing for McGill-Queen’s University Press (MQUP), with an expected publication date of 2015. The digital edition will be comprised of manuscripts and typescripts, as well as private papers such as the composition calendar in which Whalley recorded the dates and locations he composed and revised many of his poems between 1937 and 1947. Whalley’s letters from his correspondence with Ryerson Press for the chapbook Poems 1939-1944 (1946) and selections from his wartime correspondence will also be included, and transcriptions for each digital image will also be presented.
My work on the Whalley project has provided me with valuable experience working first-hand with the very rich collection of published and unpublished materials in the QUA’s George Whalley Fonds. I spent much of my time during the last year scanning letters and poetry and prose manuscripts and typescripts located in the QUA to digital archival standards (between 400 and 600dpi) in TIFF format, editing them, converting them to JPEGs, and uploading them into the database with RAD-compliant descriptions. At the same time, Michael has scanned, edited, converted, and uploaded documents in the private papers kept by the Whalley family in Southwold, England, and by various other people connected to Whalley. Between the time I joined the project in May 2012 and the end of March 2013, we made 1711 records describing 4888 files, including no less than 4075 pages of manuscripts, typescripts, journals, and letters. Both Michael and I have also produced public works on Whalley. I presented a conference paper at Trinity College Dublin in mid-June of this year on Whalley’s multi-linguistic radio adaptation of Primo Levi’s memoir, Se questo è un uomo, and made a colloquium presentation at Queen’s University which compared the self-presentational modes of Whalley’s pre-war, wartime, and post-war letters to his mother. Michael, Robin, and I also gave a talk on our approach to the Whalley project entitled “Archiving from the Start: An Archive Database Solution for Literary Research” at DHSI this past June.
Currently, we are working with Robin on a major refresh of www.georgewhalley.ca and on formulating the technical and aesthetic design elements of the edition. Some of the editorial decisions we have made concerning the edition include the choice to use a “Related Materials” sidebar to direct users to documents connected to the one they are currently viewing. My work has shifted in the last month to focus on editing the database’s records for various typescripts and manuscripts into a more granular format, to enable users to search quite specifically among records.

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