"Each volume completes its epoch and is an entity in itself."
June 13, 2007 8:14 AM Subscribe
Charles Evans (1850-1935) created his American Bibliography as a labor of love. Evans, an orphan whose education ended at age fifteen, was fifty-one and unemployed when he began singlehandedly cataloging every printed document published in America between 1639 and 1820. At the time of his death thirty-four years later, he had set down 35,854 entries through 1799, twelve volumes totaling over 5,500 pages. It took two decades (1950-1968) for a team of bibliographers to transfer the pamphlets he cited onto microfilm, and three more years (2002-2005) to digitize them. The result, Evans Digital Edition, is a full-text searchable collection of 2.3 million pages of pamphlets. Some see it as a revolutionary innovation that will democratize the historical profession, but others are not so sure--the original cost $25 a volume, but Evans Digital Edition costs $20,000-$100,000 to subscribe.
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