Want to access electronic files by the likes of Christine Brooke-Rose, Kazuo Ishiguro, and the writers of Mad Men? Here’s how.
By Abby Adams and Kelly Kerbow-Hudson
The Ransom Center is pleased to share that we are providing researchers with onsite access to born digital collection materials, which are items created or produced in digital form.
Collections containing newly accessible born digital items include the papers of Kazuo Ishiguro, Billy Collins, Christine Brooke-Rose, and Iain Sinclair, among others. Some electronic files available for viewing include screenplays from scriptwriting workshops Gabriel García Márquez taught in the 1990s, drafts of essays and short works by J. M. Coetzee dating as far back as 1984, and research materials and casting files from the television show Mad Men.
The extent of the born digital content in each of these collections is described in their respective finding aids and can be requested prior to an onsite visit by contacting the Ransom Center at email@example.com.
During this initial phase of implementation, researchers can examine collection materials in their original file format using several different software applications for viewing obsolete file formats such as MacWrite, WordStar, and WordPerfect. Access will be provided to read-only copies of files on a designated laptop. While original computer disks are unable to be requested, photographs of each piece of digital media are provided.
To offer this access, the Center’s Born Digital/Forensics Lab undertook an ongoing retrospective data recovery project that included more than 3,500 computer disks of varying formats, among them:
- 5- and 5.25-inch floppy diskettes
- CDs and DVDs
- Zip disks and Super Disks
- Data cassettes
More than 90 percent of the Center’s born digital collection materials on obsolete media have been recovered and transferred to secure, redundant digital storage.
To provide access to these electronic files in the Reading and Viewing Room, we worked closely with colleagues to develop a Materials Use Policy for Electronic Files in Ransom Center Collections and include information in the Ransom Center’s larger Materials Use Policy.
We’re thrilled to be able to offer this new service and level of access. We look forward to welcoming and supporting researchers to delve further into projects than previously possible!
Come visit our galleries to see Literary Archives in the Digital Age, part of Stories to Tell: Selections from the Harry Ransom Center, through August 12, 2018. On display are born-digital materials from the archives of four authors: Christine Brooke-Rose, J. M. Coetzee, Gabriel García Márquez, and Denis Johnson.
Digital archaeology at the Ransom Center