Digital Dictionary of Quaker Biography
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The Dictionary of Quaker Biography
The Dictionary of Quaker Biography was compiled jointly by Friends House Library, London and Haverford College Quaker Collection between the 1950s and 1980s. It consists of approximately 20,000 biographical entries on prominent British and American Friends from the 17th through the 20th centuries and amounts to about 32,000 typescript pages. There are two "original copies," one located at Haverford and the other at Friends House Library, London. Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College has a photocopy of the Haverford "copy." The DQB gets frequent use in house at all three institutions and is cited often by scholars of both Quaker and non-Quaker topics in many reputable journals and monographs.
The Digital Dictionary of Quaker Biography
The Digital Dictionary of Quaker Biography is a pilot project of Haverford College Special Collections to explore the possibilities of creating an online version of the much used Dictionary of Quaker Biography. The goals of the project are as follows:
- Preserve and safeguard the original paper copies
- Preserve the integrity of the original text
- But allow it also to be edited, updated, corrected and grow
- Address issues of scholarliness, authority, inclusion and scope
- Make the content more widely available
- Encourage use and contribution by a range of users
- Promote cooperative/distributed scholarship
1955 Introduction to the Dictionary of Quaker Biography
In thus isolating Friends from the large body of professing Christians, the compiler actuated by no narrow or sectarian bias. Since, however, it would be a stupendous task to make a general list of all astounding Christians, the less ambitious role has been attempted of selecting members of the Society of Friends, called Quakers, who whether in religion, education, science, art or industry have also made an outstanding contribution to life. Beyond this he has included names of some who have fallen away from first principles, have even made shipwreck of faith. It has seemed right to include others who appear to have been Friends at heart but who (as if by accident) never became members.
The difficulty of decision as to whom to include and whom to omit has been very great. Some other compiler, with a different setting and outlook, would undoubtedly have produced a very different copy. It is hoped, nonetheless, that the Dictionary will prove helpful to students of history, to genealogists, and to seekers of truth.
That regrettable misstatements, inaccuracies and omissions occur in this work must be admitted. Accordingly, corrections and suggestions will be welcomed. May the whole compilation serve as a broad target to shoot at, so that eventually a sound and comprehensive work may evolve, to the permanent enrichment of Christian biography.
William Bacon Evans
Haverford, PA USA
The project will take the following steps:
- Set up a test wiki using MediaWiki software
- Scan, OCR, clean, and enter sample entries
- Explore methods of automating this process
- Explore the ability to include fielded and shareable data in the wiki environment
- Develop an editorial style and explore the functionalities of the wiki environment
- Explore connections to other related content, including digital library collections, library catalogs, necrology indexes and so on
- Bring on outside partners, editors, etc.
- Seek funding
- Move into production