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                        Making of America
                at the University of Michigan
 
The University of Michigan Digital Library is pleased to announce the
availability of an extraordinary new electronic collection of American
writing.  A part of the Making of America project, these materials are a
powerful demonstration of several pieces of digital library technology
developed by the University of Michigan.  Currently included in the UM
online collection are some 200,000 pages of American publications from
1850 to 1900; by mid-year, the collection will extend to include
approximately 650,000 pages, including several journals.  The University
of Michigan MOA collection is available at:
 
        http://www.umdl.umich.edu/moa/.
 
The Making of America project is a collaborative effort between Cornell
University and the University of Michigan.  Funded primarily by the
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the focus of the project is American social
history from the antebellum period through reconstruction. Cornell and
Michigan are working to develop a distributed architecture to provide
access to the two collections through a single interface at each
institution.  Materials currently available from Cornell may be found at
 
        http://moa.cit.cornell.edu/
 
Work is underway to facilitate cross-collection searching for the two
efforts.
 
Digital Library Resources for the Humanities
 
The implementation at Michigan demonstrates a number of unique
approaches to building systems for access to scholarly resources.
Capitalizing on Cornell University's extensive experience in
preservation-quality imaging, pages were scanned as 600dpi TIFF images
through a conversion bureau, using specifications jointly written by
Cornell and Michigan.  In a subsequent process designed by Digital
Library Production staff at the University of Michigan, a subset of the
scanned pages were treated with locally developed routines for automatic
OCR.  A relatively low-level of SGML, using the TEI Guidelines, was
applied to the OCR.  This encoding is used to hold bibliographic
information, text, article-level information in journals, and page
references.  It also serves as an extensible framework as titles are
identified for more thorough proofing and richer encoding.  Images are
stored as high resolution, preservation-quality 600dpi TIFF images, and
are rendered to various levels of GIF in real time.
 
SGML-based Access Systems
 
We hope that users of the system will appreciate some of the
functionality developed through UM's nearly eight years of experience
with deploying SGML-based access and delivery systems.  Attractive,
easily navigated displays of results showing the number of occurrences
per page are combined with displays of the page image, circumventing
many of the problems encountered when relying on OCR alone.  As we have
opportunities to "clean up" and more richly encode OCR'd texts, the
system will begin to show dynamically-rendered HTML with links to the
page images.  The mechanisms used for the MOA system will be provided to
participants in the UM's SGML Server Program (see
http://www.hti.umich.edu/misc/ssp/).
 
Next Steps
 
Development and design of the system continues.  The current
implementation will be exhaustively vetted with focus groups of local
users, especially experts in the fields covered.  We would also
encourage others to send comments and suggestions to [log in to unmask]
Also, as time and resources permit, texts will be extracted from the
system, carefully proofed and corrected, and encoded at a much higher
level of SGML.  These enriched resources will allow us to continue to
improve functionality in a numbe r of different directions.  For more
information about the Making of American project in general, and the
Michigan implementation in particular, please see:
 
        http://www.umdl.umich.edu/moa/about.html