Title TEI in the Archives: Unfolding the Bookshops in Paul’s Cross Churchyard

Encoded by   Vanessa Hannesschläger

Encoded by   Daniel Schopper


The Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License applies to this text.


Writing in 2000 of "[d]igital archives combined with new technologies," Seamus Ross lauded this union’s ability to support "simultaneous access to a range of sources" as well as development of "research methods not possible with […] printed or hand written records" alone. Less frequently discussed, however, are ways digital connections may enrich understanding of print and manuscript records themselves, while encouraging scholarship that draws upon both. Recent projects such as Shakespeare Documented show digitized archives’ potential not only for reuniting fragmented artifacts, but also for evolving new, composite wholes to support research.

Such potential extends as well to encouraging engagement with existing scholarship. Among salient examples potentially complemented by an approach of this kind would be the landmark work of Peter W. M. Blayney, whose 1990 The Bookshops in Paul’s Cross Churchyard uses meticulous archival research to map the evolving footprint of the shops and their inhabitants. Resulting has been a powerful print visualization: a composite, layered image of shops, their locations, and their inhabitants. Centrally, this project proposes to create a digitized model of the context Blayney has rendered, while connecting aspects of the reconstruction to the documents used to create it. Making the research’s archival foundations visible honors the initial, seminal achievement while encouraging exploration – and emulation – of the work.

The proposed project’s TEI encoding of key documents will observe existing permissions while developing a composite resource. Connecting print and manuscript archives through a third medium will provide perspective on ways early modern records may present reciprocal and reinforcing information. Intersections with further early modern corpora also appear promising, particularly given the January 2015 release of over 25,000 TEI-compliant SGML-encoded EEBO-TCP texts. Ultimately, TEI’s role as a common language remains vital to the project’s success.