An interesting find at Boston College as a result of new digitization initiatives...
Thanks to Librarian Tom Wall’s efforts to bring the institution's archives into the digital era, an unpublished treasure has been discovered—Yeats’ very first play, “Love and Death”. Written in 1884 when Yeats was 18, the little known piece was uncovered amidst boxes of journals and correspondence purchased by the institution from the poet’s son in the early nineties.
Wall’s creation of a committee to search the archives for high impact materials to be digitized resulted in this rare find, and has led to its new access online for a global audience.
The uncovering of the play obviously boasts a major positive for new digital initiatives, both in encouraging archivists and librarians to re-evaluate what institutions contain and in enabling exciting (re)discoveries to be made accessible to researchers and readers the world over.
Yet the digitization process is not without careful attention to attempting to maintain some sense of the aura of the manuscript itself; in bringing the play to digital access, the Boston College website includes high-res photographic images of the handwritten pages to accompany the transcribed text. Burn’s Library conservator Barbara Adams Hebard says of the digitization project, “We definitely wanted to present the whole object as if you could hold it in your hands”.
Wall aims to bring 5% of Boston College’s archive collections online in the future, stating that while “Digital is not a replacement . . . it will be interesting to see what our Web hits look like in a year.”
The play can be accessed the BC website.
Click here a detailed article from The Boston Globe with response from Boston Yeats specialist Marjorie Hawes.