The Wilfred Owen Multimedia Digital Archive

  1. 1. Paul Groves

    Humanities Computing Unit - Oxford University

Work text
This plain text was ingested for the purpose of full-text search, not to preserve original formatting or readability. For the most complete copy, refer to the original conference program.


Whilst it is hoped that the 'Virtual Seminars' prove useful in the teaching of literature, from the project's point of view they are really just intended to be examples of how the material from the WOMDA can be used for educational purposes. The WOMDA has a number of purposes: to provide access (via the Web) to digitised primary source material (information about which is given below); to provide a means of making context-based searching and browsing of the archive possible; to provide a means of making seminar creation possible for users via the Web, utilising the material in the archive - this is referred to as the "Path Creation Scheme"; and to digitally preserve high quality images of the primary source material for future generations, taking into account the issues involved with this.

Archive Content

The archive will comprise the following material:Virtually all of Wilfred Owen's original manuscripts for his war poetry, mostly drawn from material held at the English Faculty Library at Oxford University and the British Library. Permisson to use this material in the manner stated has been given. It is also hoped to be able to use a small number of poem manuscripts held by the University of Columbia (New York) and by the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Centre at the University of Texas, Austin.

From a scholar's point of view, access to the original manuscripts is essential , since Owen died before hardly any of his work was published - therefore there is much to speculate about authorial intention.

18 issues of The Hydra, The journal of the Craiglockhart War Hospital, to which both Owen And Sassoon contributed. This is the most complete run in existence.

Twenty photographs of Wilfred Owen in uniform and various army orders, including the one publishing Owen's Military Cross.It is also hoped that permission will be granted to incorporate a selection of letters that Owen wrote during his war service -mainly to his mother, but also to his siblings, as well as to Siegfried Sassoon, Leslie Gunston and Robert Graves.From the Public Record Office at Kew, it is hoped that we will be able to incorporate appropriate parts of his battalion's diary, some of his medical record, as well as other related ephemera. From the archives of the Imperial War Museum we will be incorporating a large selection of general information from the war mostly photographs, but also some sound and a tiny bit of video.In addition some relevant current-day video and photographic material from the area around the Western Front (cemetaries, battlefields etc.) will be included.


The Hydra and the poem manuscripts held at Oxofrd's English faculty library were digitised by Dr. David Cooper of Oxford's Library Automation Service. Specialised equipment, based around a Kontron Progress 3012 digital CCD camera was used to capture the images (see _ for further information about this process. The British Library use a similar system for digitising.

The images were captured at 300dpi and 24-bit colour and saved as uncompressed TIFF files on the University's Hierarchical File Server (<>). This is superb for archival and research purposes , but impractical for use on the web, as the resulting images come out at about 35Mb! For Web delivery, the resolution was reduced to 72dpi (screen resolution) and the images saved as compressed JPEG files.


"the willingness of the scholarly community to give serious weight to electronic information depends upon scholarly trust in such information being dependably available, with its authenticity and integrity maintained" (BL R&D Report 6238)

To make the archive usable, both now and in the future, it is necessary to encode the material with at least a basic level of metadata (data that describes other data). Encoding the material is necessary for preservation purposes, contextual searching and browsing, and will also aid the development of the "Path Creation Scheme" (see above). Encoding is also essential if the material is to maintain its "authenticity and integrity".

The encoding scheme used is SGML, following the guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative (<>), specifically making use of the TEI-Lite DTD (<>). Each of the digitised artifacts is associated with TEI-Lite SGML data that provides some metadata about the artifact such as: full description, physical location of original, copyright information, date digitised (and where) as well as any other bibliographic information.

In addition to this metadata, a means of searching the archive is required. Ideally this would be achieved by referencing richly marked-up transcriptions of the manuscripts themselves. Unfortunatlely the time, money and manpower available for the project does not allow for this. Instead, the poem manuscripts will be referenced via a transcripton of Jon Stallworthy's edition of Owen's War Poetry (which is generally regarded as the most accurate), marked-up to a fairly minimal level.

The Hydra is being transcribed at Napier University, the current owners of Craiglockhart, and then marked-up to a fairly minimal level.

For Web delivery and searching, use is made of OpenText's PAT SGML-aware search engine coupled with a set of Perl CGI scripts which convert the output to browser friendly HTML (though in the future it may be possible to deliver the output directly as XML).

If this content appears in violation of your intellectual property rights, or you see errors or omissions, please reach out to Scott B. Weingart to discuss removing or amending the materials.

Conference Info

In review

"Virtual Communities"

Hosted at Debreceni Egyetem (University of Debrecen) (Lajos Kossuth University)

Debrecen, Hungary

July 5, 1998 - July 10, 1998

109 works by 129 authors indexed

Series: ACH/ALLC (10), ACH/ICCH (18), ALLC/EADH (25)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC