Book digitization: 1971-present

The Library of Congress's Leslie Johnson takes a stroll down memory lane, recounting the history of book digitization:

Text digitization in the cultural heritage sector started in earnest in 1971, when the first Project Gutenberg text — the United States Declaration of Independence — was keyed into a file on a mainframe at the University of Illinois. The Thesaurus Linguae Graecae began in 1972. The Oxford Text Archive was founded in 1976. The ARTFL Project was founded at the University of Chicago in 1982. The Perseus Digital Library started its development in 1985. The Text Encoding Initiative started in 1987. The Women Writers Project started at Brown University in 1988. The University of Michigan’s UMLibText project was started in 1989. The Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities was established jointly by Princeton University and Rutgers University in 1991. Sweden’s Project Runeberg went online in 1992. The University of Virginia EText Center was also founded in 1992.

Before You Were Born: We Were Digitizing Texts (Thanks, Joly!)


  1. Thanks, Cory! As the old-ish fogey who wrote the post … there is a lot of history in the cultural heritage technology community that needs to be revived. This is one in an irregular series on topics that I also lived through. The title came from a phrase that one of my mentors used on me: “When did you last visit this important historical site or museum?” “Before you were born…” ;-)

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