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Los Angeles - St. Petersburg Sister City Committee

LASPSCC - Projects - The Digital Archive of Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)
[Anna Akhmatova]
Anna Akhmatova

Projects - The Digital Archive of Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)

This collaboration between the UCLA Slavic Dept., National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg-Los Angeles Sister City Committee, Center for Digital Humanities, and the California Digital Library aims to create an American digital archive for the purpose of preservation, access, and scholarly commentary. In that respect it resembles other digital library projects in the US that have access to manuscript materials as their primary aim, but this project is especially urgent, and presents an extraordinary opportunity for the new field of digital preservation, because the Akhmatova Archive is at risk. Although the manuscripts date from the period 1953 to 1966, the year of Akhmatova’s death, they were written on poor-quality acidic paper, and are rotting.

In order to save the content of these manuscripts, so important in the history of the American Poet Laureate and Nobel Prize recipient, Joseph Brodsky, two UCLA departments are working with the Principal Investigator, David MacFadyen, to create a model for the digital preservation of archival materials that also permits the creation of scholarly commentary. The digital library of Akhmatova’s manuscripts, a repository of high-resolution images, will be used initially as the basis of an initial textual edition of her commentaries on Pushkin. With a Sister City seed grant, this important preservation and access project can proceed more rapidly and benefit from work on library-related technical standards that is going forward within the California Digital Library. UCLA already “strongly endorses” both the cultural value of this American endeavor and its great importance in computer / digitizing training for future US scholars in the humanities. The Pushkin model will be used to train students and then seek extra funds. The Center for Digital Humanities has chosen this project for full and free support.

The project has three distinct but complementary aims:

Preservation: To capture images of manuscripts in the archive of Anna Akhmatova in the National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg.

Access: To create a digital library of images of the Akhmatova archive and provide worldwide scholarly access through the UCLA Digital Library and the Online Archive of the California Digital Library.

Scholarly Commentary: To build within UCLA’s Center for Digital Humanities, for the benefit of research and teaching, an Akhmatova digital collection consisting of images of manuscript with annotation and textual transcription that explores the relationship between the poet’s creative life and published work.