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The Sutherland Collection

The Sutherland Project to digitize the Sutherland Collection

One of the great examples of extra-illustration, the Sutherland Collection contains material of tremendous historical, literary, iconographical, and political significance, making it a major resource for many academic disciplines, as well as for those seeking illustrations of a variety of subjects. Extensive and focussed, it contains many major items - for example Wyngaerde's views of European towns - and rare impressions, proof states, and unique prints.

The collection is of interest across a range of historical disciplines:

In addition to these purely academic audiences, the collection is a potential resource for:

However, only the Clarendon, Burnet and their associated volumes of oversize prints are at all well-known, and those largely by historians, not students of the other disciplines to which they are relevant. The other extra-illustrated works, the documentary material surrounding the collection, the other bound volumes of prints, and the rare and antiquarian books are neither well-known nor properly investigated.

Although the extra-illustrations in Clarendon and Burnet were catalogued by Charlotte Sutherland, the existing catalogue is far from adequate. Circulated idiosyncratically in a small edition, it is not widely available. Whilst it provides a checklist of the collection's subject-matter, the information given is cursory and, reflecting the state of research almost 200 years ago, not always accurate. Only the annotations in the Bodleian's and Ashmolean's copies indicate where in the volumes the illustrations have been placed. The extra-illustrations in the other Grangerized works are undocumented save for Charlotte Sutherland's manuscript General Index (Sutherland 135).

As with all collections of unique material, access for researchers is problematic, as the material is only available in situ. This is exacerbated by the inadequacy of the published catalogues, rendering a visit to Oxford almost inevitable if a particular item is to be located successfully. However, the collection in its bound volumes is unwieldy and easily damaged, and excessive handling will only exacerbate any existing problems. Consequently, the provision and dissemination of some form of surrogate is a priority.

In addition, although the practice of extra-illustration is a potentially fascinating subject with implications for many areas of research, it remains little-known and seldom studied today. Presenting a set of extra-illustrated books online will help bring the subject to a broad audience, and thereby stimulate further research in this hitherto-neglected area.

The Sutherland Project therefore aims to re-catalogue the Sutherland Collection, photograph it, and present it as an online resource. Digitization will:

The project aims to produce:

A digital resource comprising:

  1. High-resolution digital images of each 'populated' (i.e. text or illustrated) page in the extra-illustrated volumes
  2. A digital version of the texts of the extra-illustrated versions
  3. A catalogue database of all the illustrations
  4. Metadata for each image, the texts, and the catalogue database
  5. Project documentation

A website comprising the output detailed above (with the image files' resolutions reduced for web-delivery), plus:

  1. Cropped images of each extra-illustration
  2. A delivery system allowing users to search and browse the collection, in three different ways:
    1. Images of the populated pages, arranged by opening, imitating the appearance of the bound volume (see mockup webpages of openings in the extra-illustrated volumes)
    2. A digital text with accompanying single illustrations (i.e. each print cropped from its supporting page; see a mockup webpage of a page of the digital text )
    3. Individual images with accompanying catalogue information (see a mockup webpage of a catalogue entry)

Users will be able to search the catalogue for specific illustrations, or the text for specific names and events, and see their search results in any of these layouts; they will also be able to browse through the collection in various sequences. Prior to launching the finished project website, the website will present background information and regular updates on the project. All the images, texts, catalogues and metadata will be deposited with the Arts and Humanities Data Service.

Data formats will be based on open standards: TIFF with IPTC and EXIF information, XML and SQL. Data standards will be open and established: TEI, the Getty's Categories for the Description of Works of Art or the MDA's Spectrum, VRA3, and Dublin Core.

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