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NHPRC-Mellon Digital Edition Publishing Cooperatives Grants Announced
Press Release · Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Washington, DC

Recipients to Implement Plans for New and Sustainable Ways to Publish Primary Source Materials Critical to Research and Scholarship

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in partnership with the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) has awarded grants of $1 million each to three Digital Edition Publishing Cooperatives (DEPC) that, together, will help build a sustainable system for digital publication and discovery of historical records. 

The experimental Digital Edition Publishing Cooperatives Program, first announced as a partnership between the Mellon Foundation and the NHPRC in 2017 was designed to address the challenges and opportunities of publishing and sustaining digital editions through cooperative efforts.

After two decades of experimentation, individual scholarly editions continue to find it difficult to build and maintain their own digital infrastructure for creating and disseminating their work, and most producers of digital scholarly editions lack access to predictable, affordable, and sustainable publication channels. Working together, the Cooperatives will develop technical and human infrastructures to support the digital publication of documentary and scholarly editions and to provide for their long-term preservation, discovery, and use. 

The three DEPC grants will go to:

Bucknell University
Liberal Arts Based Digital Editions Publishing Cooperative

Bucknell University’s Liberal Arts Based Digital Editions Publishing Cooperative (LAB Cooperative) will develop an end-to-end online editorial production, publication, dissemination, and preservation framework for standards-based, interoperable, sustainable, and preservable digital scholarly publishing. A partnership of Bucknell University, the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory, and Newcastle University, the Lab Cooperative supports an expanding portfolio of peer-reviewed digital editions and edition clusters. Together the partners will produce a production and dissemination platform named LAB|Pro (the LAB Production and Publishing Platform), and in collaboration with the Bucknell University Press will develop the Bucknell Digital Press as the credentialing and marketing vehicle for the Cooperative. This will be accomplished by establishing shared physical, software, and human infrastructure across institutions; supporting scalability, interoperability, and preservation; allowing for dynamic, iterative, and collaborative editing; and integrating best practices for scholarly peer review. 

Massachusetts Historical Society
The Primary Source Cooperative at the Massachusetts Historical Society

The Primary Source Cooperative is a collaboration among the Massachusetts Historical Society and its member editions, in partnership with the Digital Scholarship Group at Northeastern University, to publish online contextualized and annotated archival records for scholarly and public access.  The Cooperative, consisting of four founding editions (the John Quincy Adams Digital Diary, the Roger Brooke Taney Papers, the Catharine Maria Sedgwick Online Letters, and the Ellen Swallow Richards Papers), will lead users to a deeper understanding of the forces of reform and revolution that marked 19th century America. Most of these projects lacked ready access to a portal for digital publishing. During the planning phase of the project, the Cooperative created tools that facilitate a digital editorial workflow and cemented a mutual understanding and mission among the editors. The implementation grant will bring those tools into full production and transition to a full-fledged cooperative with established governance policies. The model established by the Cooperative will make the editorial standards and systems, custom software tools, and governance documents all open source for institutions or informal groups that have similar opportunities to support the creation of digital editions.

University of Virginia
University of Virginia (UVA) Digital Publishing Cooperative: Infrastructure for the Creation, Publication, and Discovery of Digital Scholarly Editions and Projects

The UVA Digital Publishing Cooperative (DPC) forges a relationship between two leading groups in the field of documentary editing: the University of Virginia and Digital Edition Publishing Cooperative for Historical Accounts. The goal of the DPC is to build the necessary infrastructure to facilitate and support the conceptualization, development, publication, discovery, preservation, and sustainability of digital editions and projects. Over the next three years, individuals and organizations from around the globe will collaborate on building the technical and human infrastructures necessary to make such a publishing pipeline possible. More than 30 leaders from the fields of textual editing, history, and digital humanities will  address the critical issues, challenges, and opportunities that currently face the field of documentary editing: 1) the lack of accessible and robust digital editorial and publication platforms; 2) the issues of standardization versus customization, both within the editorial process and integrated into technical systems; 3) the need for diverse publication outputs; and 4) the immense potential for discoverability, increased accessibility, and expansion of audience.


Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero said, “At the National Archives, our mission is to make historical records accessible.  We are honored to have initiated this groundbreaking work with the Mellon Foundation to address critical needs for the digital publication and sustainability of digital editions of historical records. These cooperatives promise to revolutionize online access to historical sources.”  

"These projects provide cutting-edge and sustainable models for the dissemination, use, and preservation of original sources,” noted Mellon Foundation Program Officer Patricia Hswe. “They demonstrate the potential of digital technologies to strengthen interpretive scholarship, and in turn to advance our society’s shared understanding of history.”

This is the second of a two-stage process for planning and implementation. The three teams selected were among an initial set of eight planning grant recipients, announced in 2018, and for the implementation round, were selected from a highly competitive field of proposals submitted in 2019. 

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This page was last reviewed on January 21, 2020.
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