Poetry News

Emily Dickinson Manuscripts Now Live and Open to the Public!

By Harriet Staff


Here's what's trending across the blogshpere: The good folks at Amherst College have digitized and published all their manuscript holdings of poems, letters, and whatnot by the Belle of Amherst herself Emily Dickinson. Here's what Mike Kelly has to say about the new publishing initiative over at The Consecrated Eminence:

Last month Amherst College announced a bold new publishing initiative: The Amherst College Press. This new press will be entirely open access — it will produce academic works to the highest standards then give these works away online for free. Bryn Geffert, Librarian of the College, is leading this initiative and frequently invokes the Amherst College motto – Terras irradient “Let them give light to the world” — when he describes his vision for this venture.

In same spirit of open access and sharing our light with the world, we are delighted to announce that all of the manuscripts of Emily Dickinson held by Amherst College are now freely available for viewing by anyone with an internet connection anywhere in the world. Last summer the Digital Programs department in Frost Library worked closely with the team in Academic Technology Services to set up a new digital assets management system called Amherst College Digital Collections (ACDC for short). In addition to thousands of images that support the work of Art & Art History students and faculty, ACDC is home to a growing volume of unique materials drawn from the vast holdings of the Archives & Special Collections. The obvious candidate for the first Archives collection to mount in ACDC was Emily Dickinson.

For those eager to dive right in and start exploring the Dickinson manuscripts, just follow this link and start browsing. If you have an Amherst College login and password, you will have access to everything in ACDC; if you do not, you will still be able to search, view, and download Dickinson manuscript images, but you won’t have access to the full range of art history images.

Kelly reminds us that the three volume variorum edition produced by Ralph Franklin in 1998 is still the standard, but "a quick glance through some of Dickinson’s manuscripts makes it clear that no printed text can capture the richness of her original manuscripts." He goes on to say:

One of my favorite examples of this difference is the poem “The way hope builds his house” (AC 450; Franklin 1512). Franklin describes this manuscript as “…in pencil on a fragment of an envelope…”. Here’s the image of the original now available through ACDC:

Make the jump to see the marriage of poem and envelope, and be sure to go here to browse the archive.

Originally Published: January 7th, 2013