If it’s Valentine’s Day, it must be time for another update on our most love-centric undertaking, the Browning Letters Project! Two years ago, we announced the unveiling of the first phase of the project, wherein 1,400 letters digitized from the collections of Baylor University’s Armstrong Browning Library and Wellesley College were placed online for the first time, including the “love letters” capturing Robert and Elizabeth’s courtship years (1845-1846).
Today, we’re excited to announce another major milestone: the addition of the entirety of Wellesley’s collection of correspondence, a total of 1,624 letters! This brings the total number of digitized letters to a shade over 4,500, the balance of which come from Armstrong Browning Library. All of the “phase III” Wellesley materials are full-text searchable, and the percentage of full-text capable items from ABL continues to grow, with a goal of reaching 100% searchability by May 31 of this year.
When we announced the addition of the love letters in 2012, we experienced more than 1,000,000 hits to our server in the course of a little under three days. While we’d certainly welcome a repeat performance this time, we’re equally interested in letting our readers – and users, and Browning scholars, and fans of 19th century correspondence in general – know that the next major phase of the project is complete. We’ve got our eyes on two other major collaborative partners (more to come when we can formally announce their participation!) but for now, this 4,500+ collection is already a major resource in the world of Victoriana, Browningiana and other related fields of study.
To answer a user’s inquiry about reading the entire back-and-forth exchange between Robert and Elizabeth from their courtship phase in plain text, we added a link to a work published in 1900 titled The Letters of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Barrett on the Project Gutenberg site. This will allow readers to follow their unfolding love story in a single, continuous website and makes for a nice complement to the high-quality images provided via the Browning Letters Project.
Also, here’s a great story put together by our campus media folks all about the latest news!
For more information on the Browning Letters Project, visit the collection’s homepage. To learn more about Baylor’s Armstrong Browning Library, visit their homepage. And to learn more about Wellesley College, visit their homepage.