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Digitizing Disraeli

Thanks to a third grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, over a two-year period (1 October 2012 to 30 September 2014) all Disraeli letters in the Disraeli Project collection, both published (1815-1868) and unpublished (1869-1881), will be uploaded online, but without annotations, which are protected by copyright. This new electronic database will ensure that our unique archive will be preserved in an accessible format for use by scholars worldwide. Once the letters have been properly verified, formatted and bulk-imported, users will be able to automatically create a user account online and access the archive using a MediaWiki interface. The end result will be a searchable database of all Disraeli’s extant letters in the collection at Queen’s University in text format.

It is a future goal of the Project to see the collection available in a fully digital form, allowing scans to be available alongside the transcriptions, but that stage of the project must be postponed pending further funding and the time to obtain all the necessary permissions and resolve the IP issues related to such an undertaking.

Though the annotations published in the Benjamin Disraeli Letters volumes will not be available on the database, the Disraeli Project is committed to a long-term relationship with University of Toronto Press to connect users with all published BDL volumes. Thus, in addition to the direct access to the letters provided by the Disraeli Project database, links to the UTP site (on the pages of previously published letters) will introduce users to the published BDL volumes, whose annotations, often including the other side of the correspondence, are of crucial importance to all Disraeli scholars. Those wishing to see actual images of the letters are welcome to visit the Disraeli Project or to make a request for copies through the database. They will be required to sign a statement that large portions of any single unpublished letter will not be used.

Most of the letters in our collection – by far the most comprehensive body of Disraeli’s correspondence in the world, with copies of over 13,000 letters from over 300 sources – have never been made available in an electronic database. This new format will therefore create a permanent framework onto which annotations could be added (for years after 1868), should there be funding to extend the Disraeli Project beyond its projected terminus of September 2014.