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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 18, 2006

Whitman Archive Receives Award From Society Of American Archivists

When Ed Folsom, the Carver Professor of English in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, began the Walt Whitman Archive in 1995, he thought it would take about a year to meet his goal of transferring the eminent poet's work into hypertext. More than a decade later, the Whitman Archive is an ongoing, ever-growing project that has become one of the world's most respected electronic literary tools.

Recognizing its magnitude, the Society of American Archivists presented the Whitman Archive with its C.F.W. Coker Award at its annual meeting in August. The Coker Award recognizes finding aids, finding aid systems, projects that involve innovative development in archival description, or descriptive tools that enable archivists to produce more effective finding aids.

The Walt Whitman Archive, which Folsom co-directs with Ken Price of the University of Nebraska, is dedicated to the creation of a vast electronic scholarly resource that will eventually include in one online site the full range of work by and about the renowned poet of democracy. According to the Society of American Archivists, "this scholar-archivist-librarian collaboration ... taps the potential of EAD [Encoded Archival Description, a SGML application for archival finding aids] and demonstrates the richness born in collaboration."

The Whitman Archive is sited at the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, where Folsom is an Obermann Scholar. Last fall, Folsom directed the annual Obermann Humanities Symposium, titled "Whitman Making Books/Books Making Whitman," which attracted leading Whitman and book arts scholars. It will be the subject of an upcoming edition of The Walt Whitman Quarterly.

The mission of the Obermann Center is to provide an environment and resources conducive to reflection and writing and to the exchange of ideas. Scholars from a broad range of disciplines and institutions interact with one another and with the public to create and disseminate new knowledge and to establish a diverse and vibrant intellectual community.

For more information about the Whitman Archive:

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACTS: Media: Mary Geraghty Kenyon, 319-384-0011,; Program: Ed Folsom,; Writer: Jennifer New