I’m proud to be able to say that work on the The Papers of Patrick Henry Digital Edition digital documentary edition has officially begun. Conceived of at the start of 2014, Sue Perdue and I have been busy putting together funding requests, seeking out documents, creating inventories, developing workflows, perfecting a style guide, and making plans for the digital publication of the letters, correspondence, and records of Patrick Henry, one of the great Founding Fathers of the United States. I would like to thank especially the wonderful people at Red Hill, Dr. Alan Taylor of UVA, and Henry scholar, Dr. Jon Kukla, for their support of our project so far.
Patrick Henry’s importance as the voice of the Revolution, despite the fame of his “Give Me Liberty, or Give Me Death” speech, has been largely obscured today by other Founding Fathers such as George Washington, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. All of these men have their own documentary editing projects that have been preserving, annotation, and publishing their letters for years since the mid-20th century. Henry, however, has been overlooked with the most thorough edition of his works dating back to the nineteenth century. While a useful resource, this edition by William Wirt Henry does not meet the scholarly standards of today’s documentary editing community, nor does it include the entire corpus of Henry’s writings.
We are grateful to have formed a partnership with Red Hill, Henry’s last home and resting place, that has already provided crucial support in the form of a $48,000 grant from the Jessie Ball duPont Fund. It has allowed us to develop the larger site which will house the papers project, the Patrick Henry Digital Library. This site will not only provide free access to Henry’s writings that part of the, but it will also allow users to explore his personal library, examine his personal belongings held at Red Hill, and learn more about Henry’s life from important publications such as William Wirt Henry’s three volume biography of his grandfather. Powered by a versatile and easily navigable platform known as Islandora, users will be able to do powerful faceted searches for information about Henry, his career, family, and contemporaries.
We hope to launch a digital edition of Henry’s letters by the end of 2019. For more information about the project, its staff, and advisory board, please download our official PDF brochure here.