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UC Digital Press Improves Software for Latest Release

Date: Sept. 21, 2000
By: Dawn Fuller
Phone: (513) 556-1823
Archive: General News The University of Cincinnati Digital Press (UCDP) will release its latest publication in October with a new software platform developed by the UCDP. In addition to James Otto Lewis' Aboriginal Portfolio: The Complete Edition, the press is marketing a revised edition of its first publication, George Catlin: The Printed Works, to take advantage of the new "CUrator" software.

image from UCDP

Both electronic publications are contained in a two-disk CD-ROM which include images and a database with maps, texts and a bibliography. The digital press converts rare documents and images of Western American history into an electronic format to preserve these works and make them more accessible for research and instruction around the world.

"This is a platform that integrates a number of packages within a single architecture, and it has pioneering features in three key areas," explains David Kohl, dean, University Libraries and director of UCDP. "First, both Lewis and Catlin published accounts of their travels as well as biographies of their subjects. CUrator links the images and text together so you can flow back and forth between the two. For instance, if you're looking at a picture from Aboriginal Portfolio, you can link to all of the places in his journal where he refers to that picture.

"Secondly, CUrator moves beyond text-based information searching. For example, I can bring up a map and outline an area on that map where I want to see everything that happened in that area -- both journal and picture entries -- and it will call up everything. You just visually outline, point and click, and it pulls up everything you want.

"Third, the bibliography includes links from records to web sites, if you want supplementary information. It's rather remarkable stuff for the library world," says Kohl.

Background on artists and their works
In the mid 1820s, James Otto Lewis was hired by the U.S. government to paint portraits of Native Americans visiting Detroit, where Lewis lived. Lewis also recorded the developments out of the treaty councils in the Great Lakes Region between 1825 and 1827 and released his work in five editions that were published before 1854.

Alice Cornell, assistant director/editor and chief, UCDP, says the first edition, a compilation of portraits of North American Indians published between 1835 and 1838, covers one of the finest and rarest efforts of 19th century American lithography. The Aboriginal Portfolio publication showcases one of only two complete copies of the first edition that are known, containing 80 plates (lithographic pictures). The later editions were not completed, but the most extensive copies are included in the collection.

Cornell adds that James Otto Lewis' The Aboriginal Portfolio: The Complete Edition is a logical sequel to George Catlin: The Printed Works. Catlin dedicated his career to recording the disappearing Native American culture, and in both paint and print, he recorded the people, customs and traditions of tribes as he traveled the North American continent through the 1830s.

Future projects for UC Digital Press
The press is currently at work on a third production, McKenney & Hall's History of the Indian Tribes of North America: The First Issue. The Digital Press is operated by a staff of five in University Libraries:

  • David Kohl, director
  • Alice Cornell, assistant director and editor-in-chief
  • Linda Newman, technical research and development manager
  • Marie Scheponick, assistant editor/assistant business manager
  • Pamela Bach, business
  • Get more information on the UC Digital Press Web site.

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