Humanities research project embraces digital future
After 40 years and 10 print volumes, the Disraeli Project is moving into the digital age and will begin publishing Disraeli’s letters online.
“Benjamin Disraeli remains a popular figure in several scholarly communities, and this momentous shift in focus for the Project offers a enormous potential for researchers around the world,” says project director Michel Pharand.
In addition to ongoing assistance from Queen’s, a US $95,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in the United States will support the development, over the next two years, of an online database of Disraeli’s correspondence.
“The database will broaden access to the letters tremendously,” says project research associate Ellen Hawman. “There are more than 13,000 letters in total, and only about 6,000 will have been published by the time our tenth print volume comes out in 2015. So a lot of letters, including many hundreds of unpublished ones, are just waiting to be given to the world.”
The online database will contain only the text of Disraeli’s letters, without annotations or the other side of the correspondence found in the volumes published by the University of Toronto Press since 1982, some of them only partially available online. The project’s research assistant Ginger Pharand will be working with Creative Consulting, a Kingston-based website designer, to create the database.
Volume 9 of Benjamin Disraeli Letters will be published in February 2013. Volume 10, covering the pivotal year of 1868, Disraeli’s first ministry, will be submitted next month and is scheduled to appear in 2015. Dr. Pharand is now working closely with the Queen’s Office of Advancement to secure additional funding that would help ensure publication of further print volumes.
Former Queen’s faculty members John Matthews (English) and D.M. Schurman (History) began locating and compiling Disraeli’s letters in 1972 as a sabbatical project. In 1975 they were joined by J.A.W. Gunn (Political Science) and the Disraeli Project was established. In the 1980s, M.G. Wiebe (English) headed the project, remaining director until 2009. In 2007 he was successful in obtaining a grant of US $455,000 from the Mellon Foundation, and Michel Pharand obtained a second one for US $357,000 from Mellon in 2010. Now, thanks to the third grant, the Disraeli Project is entering the digital age.