Financial Records in a Digital World: the MEDEA Project

I am very pleased to be one of eight advisors on the MEDEA project, a joint venture of Kathryn Tomasek at Wheaton College, Dr. Georg Vogeler at the Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities, and Drs. Mark Spoerer and Kathrin Pindl at Universität Regensburg. This initiative is funded by a bilateral grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. MEDEA, which stands for Modeling semantically Enriched Digital Edition of Accounts, aims to bring together economic historians scholarly editors, and technical experts to discuss and test emerging methods for semantic markup of account books. The first workshop takes place at the University of Regensburg October 22-24 and there is a call for papers here.

Thomas Jefferson’s Account Book, May 1779 (Papers of Thomas Jefferson, Library of Congress).

This first event will bring together participants who will present current research projects using data from historical account books, give insight into the encoding models of their projects and share ideas about how a common model might look. The discussions and examples will concentrate on a set of questions intended to elucidate the features of accounts of greatest interest to scholars.

CaptureDocuments Compass has been involved in the encoding of Jefferson’s two-volume memorandum books (see a manuscript image above and dust jacket of the publication at left). We are trying to reproduce the print edition as closely as possible, but you can see the sorts of formatting challenges that this unique sort of document presents to an editor. Special characters, abbreviations, wierd indentations, and table alignments are just a few of the issues to be dealt with. That doesn’t begin to address the content itself. I will talk about some of the these issues at the October meeting in Germany.

Sue Perdue, Director, Documents Compass