News article: New Email Archive Tool to Sift Literary Legacies

An article in The Wall Street Journal reports on a new free software called ePADD that has been developed to assist archivists in managing writers’ emails.

Extract from the WSJ:

Email archives pose many of the same challenges as paper ones, such as privacy concerns, copyright questions and decisions about organizing an unwieldy cache of material with a high ratio of chaff to wheat. But email also has unique problems.

“EPADD is going to “change the way that I’m able to process email collections,” said Kate Tasker, a digital archivist at the University of California, Berkeley’s Bancroft Library. “It’s going to automate a lot of the tasks. It’s going to recognize a lot of the types of information that we need to review” before making email collections available.

“Email is by its very nature very context-heavy,” said Erika Farr, former head of digital archives at Emory University’s Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, where she helped organize years of Salman Rushdie’s emails and other digital content. While a single email might not be illuminating, a complete chain or thread of related messages could be. “We don’t want to interfere too much as an archive,” Ms. Farr said. “We want the researcher to go in there and find what needs to be found. But we also have to enable them on some level. We can’t just give them an inbox file.”

Those inboxes often are bulging. In her final decade, Susan Sontag wrote more than 17,000 emails, now accessible at the University of California in Los Angeles. In 2014, the Ransom Center acquired Ian McEwan’s archive, including years of the author’s emails. The messages “just accumulate like dust,” Mr. McEwan said. “A mountain of ‘See you at eight o’clock.’ Every now and then, there must be significant ones but the sheer volume is very great.”

Keyboard by E_D_L

Keyboard by E_D_L