Creating an Online Environment for Displaying Historic Pennsylvania German Texts

Michael McGuire (Indiana University)

This digital scholarship project aims to provide digital access to historical texts and other documents written in Pennsylvania German. Texts will be presented in parallel with different orthographic versions of the original in addition to English translations and notes. The layout of the project will be similar to the Flamenca Digital Scholarship Project but will use a different web interface. Texts will be encoded using TEI P5 guidelines and displayed in parallel using a customized version of Versioning Machine as an underlying interface. Versioning Machine is an open source software that allows different columns such as two versions of the same text to be displayed in parallel.

While viewed as important from a perspective of linguistics, literary studies, digital humanities, literature, poetry, historical texts and other documents written in Pennsylvania German are often difficult to access. Many, if not most of them are not digitally available on the internet and there are often few hard copies available in libraries or archives. For my dissertation project, I am building a linguistic corpus of Pennsylvania German and have already scanned and digitizing several texts. This project will provide a more interactive and user-friendly interface for teaching and research. Among many others, these include columns and articles from newspapers such as The Middleburg Post, the Lebanon Daily, The Pennsylvania Dutchman, Allentown Call or works from writers such Henry Harbaugh, Abraham R Horne, Harvey Miller, T.H. Harter (Boonastiel) and others. In addition to helping with linguistic analysis, texts displayed with this project could be useful for literary analysis, historical study, digital humanities as well as other forms of digital scholarship.

Michael McGuire is a grad student in linguistics at Indiana University and is currently designing a corpus of Pennsylvania German as a dissertation project. He also worked at Bucknell University in Digital Scholarship & Pedagogy as a student assistant developing and editing web tools and other software for digital scholarship projects. Lately, his research has focused on computational linguistics and natural language processing but he remains very interested in other areas of linguistics and digital scholarship. Along with Olga Scrivner and others, Michael has also worked on and continues to help maintain the Flamenca Digital Scholarship Project. For more information, visit Michael’s website:


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