Humanities Textual Databases Online: The Cases of TACT and FoxPro in the Digital Library

Stacy Waters
Center for Advanced Research Technology in the Arts and Humanities
University of Washington
Box 353680
Seattle, Washington 98195

Much of the work that humanities scholars do is, implicitly or explicitly, the preparation of textual material as a database. On the one hand, almost any descriptively tagged text (or text prepared with editing software that allows the export of tagged files) is, implicitly, a flat, textual database. On the other hand, the use of proprietary database software to organize textual materials makes this connection explicit. The advantage of texts in databases is that they may be queried and searched to reveal information about the text which may be difficult to obtain in a more traditional manner.

Increasingly, the resources prepared by scholars in one or another database format for their own restricted use are finding their way onto the Internet, where they may be accessed by the larger scholarly community. Many people in the possession of such resources, however, are perplexed about how to go about linking them to the WEB.

I propose to organize a poster session that will display two examples of textual databases, one flat and the other relational, that have been created at the Center for Advanced Research Technology in the Arts and Humanities (CARTAH) at the University of Washington to be accessible over the Internet. The poster session will illustrate the processes whereby existing databases may be made available online. The methods described are generally applicable and can be utilized by lots of scholars.