Digital Archives: An Introduction
Digital archives have the power to weave together objects and texts otherwise siloed by time and space. In so doing, this kind of archive, built explicitly to link data and objects, reflects and forges interpretive possibilities among digital archives. I've created this project not just to display rare print materials, but to put multiple digital objects into dialogue with one another. I hope to expose latent or under-studied connections by making strategic use of the affordances of digital platforms and tools.
Archives take many forms. Some archives are made of documents written by famous people and can be accessed in repositories open to the public. Other archives are less easy to find or access. Those located in family attics, under beds, or within the gates of historic cemeteries and gardens operate as figurative or literal archives. The meaning of the word archive has expanded in recent years with the rise and awareness of digital archives and thematic research collections as scholarly platforms for interpretive curation and knowledge production. While many scholars see a sharp distinction between physical records and digital surrogates, The East End Digital Library makes the case for using digital surrogates as raw materials for the creation of new digital records.
With this approach in mind, this site has been designed specifically to inspire and enable interactive, experiential readings of the writing remains of London's East Enders. Like any other archive, The East End Digital Library is an interpretive ecosystem where a curated collection of ideas and images interact to produce new narratives and new ways of interacting with the past.