Wed October 30, 2013
Online archive compiles the works of Emily Dickinson
For more than 100 years, studying the writings of poet Emily Dickinson involved combing through books, poems, manuscripts and letters. That has all changed with a new scholarly collaboration between some of the world's great academic institutions.
When Dickinson died in her Amherst, Massachusetts home she left behind a great deal of writings. Now, a group of elite higher education centers has combined their collections on the poet and even scraps of what she wrote onto one website: the Emily Dickinson Archive, available to every student, fan or scholar.
D'Youville College Professor Marta Werner wrote her doctoral thesis on Dickinson at the University at Buffalo. Werner says the access changes the academic world.
"It's a huge wave. We're getting more and more access to things that, before this moment, only the the rarest scholars could actually see. Now, suddenly there are going to be millions of eyes trained on these papers," said Werner.
Before this, someone interested in The Belle of Amherst had to visit libraries at Harvard, Amherst College, Yale and other places.
Now anyone can access Dickinson's writing, although Werner says there's still no substitute for personally seeing or touching those manuscripts in a scholarly pursuit.