Historians On Trial Management

Funding/institutional connection
Historians on Trial draws on collections from both NYU and Harvard, thus, both of these institutions can be potential donors of funding to the project. Operations will ideally be based at NYU, which would provide the project with equipment and student workers, and possibly software.
Permission to transcribe documents at Harvard must be granted. One option would be to transcribe Harvard's documents there, avoiding the prospect of transporting the material to NYU.

Scope of digitization
The scope if this project is fairly small. There is a limited amount of material being digitized, a large staff is not required, and transcription will conceivably take a year or less to complete. There are six boxes of material in total, excluding material independently supplied by Alice-Kessler Harris (which will most likely amount to less than half a box of material), much of which consists of duplicate trial transcripts and other court documents that will only be transcribed once. A thorough search of the National Archives and any other government depository holding federal court records will be undertaken to ensure that if a digital copy of the document exists and is usable by the project, no unnecessary digitization will be performed.

Copyright is factor in establishing the scope of digitization. Most court documents are theoretically open to the public, and cannot be copyrighted. It is possible that some documents belonging to Sears could be under restriction, but because the plaintiff of the case, The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, is a government agency, most of the trial documents should legally be available to United States citizens without restriction. Correspondence, newspaper articles and scholarly pieces however, will pose more copyright problems, and will require substantial investigation before material can be included in the scope of digitization. The project will have to consider purchasing the rights to use some of this material. Efforts will be made to link to copies of articles already in digital form and on the web to avoid unnecessary digitization. However, the project will avoid linking to protected databases that hold these articles. We want to encourage all people to use this site.

Even though the scope of digitization is relatively small, the longevity of the site needs to be considered. Who will update the site? Who will monitor the user comments? See staff.

Staff will consist of:

a project manager
duties: creates site (will be based on wiki model) with assistance of web-designer (who will most likley be associated with NYU), manages workflow of project, higher/manages employees, manages funding, quality control, monitors user comments, updates site, creates manual for metadata with metadata specialist/general user manual for project, checking on and obtaining copyright
requirements: management experience, knowledge of digital platforms and programs relating to museum, library or archival work, BA in a humanities field, experience with web technology, knowledge of copyright
Ideally, this person will already work at NYU, perhaps in the digital studio, or will be hired as a full time employee who is responsible for other projects as well. He/she will be responsible for upholding the longevity of the site, hence, there needs to be means for this individual to be associated with NYU for a long period of time. Alternatively, the project could higher a part-time manager for two years and part of their job responsibility would be to create a manual for future individuals to use in updating the site and monitoring comments.
full-time, salary: $40,000/year
part-time, salary: $20,000/year (2 years)

a historian of women's or labor history/metadata specialist
duties: write all narrative for site, encode all documents with detailed metadata using TEI, create textual annotations
requirements: MA in history or MLS field, knowledge of XML standards, preferably TEI, knowledge of women's and labor history
full-time, $40,000/year (1 year)
part-time, $20,000/year (2 years)

two student workers/interns
duties: transcription of all documents, quality control, will learn museum/library software
requirements: interest in history and digital archives work, ability to type quickly
part-time, $15/hour

-project manager FT
-metadata specialist/XML and TEI consultant FT
-webmaster/technology manager FT
-historian FT
-student workers PT

Professional level staff will most likely be hired through the NYU HR system, while student workers can be arranged though departmental connections, and will work part-time. Ideally, the project will utilize interested individuals already involved in digital or archival projects at NYU and Harvard. An informal advisory panel of interested people within the university community will be assembled to provide guidance.

Copyright workflow
1. select documents of be digitized
2. check copyright status
3. clear copyright status
4. check if item already exists in a usable digital format (usable= not residing in a protected database like ProQuest, freely available for public use, etc.)
All of these steps will be performed by the project manager, and will take place at the same time he/she highers employees.

Items will only be transcribed after copyright is cleared/obtained.

Digitization and metadata workflow
1. Inventory items:

  • Determine what gets digitized
  • Assign unique reference number to each item (pages of trial documents will be grouped)
  • Organize material in a specific order to enable easy reference

2. Simultaneous transcription and quality control:

  • One intern transcribed document
  • Other intern examines proofreads document for accuracy
  • Metadata specialist proofreads document for accuracy
  • This process is repeated twice, such that each document is keyed and proofread twice. Finally, both transcriptions will be compared for accuracy.

3. Metadata specialist attachs metadata to digital object in database
4. Project manager continually analyzes/checks metadata for accuracy
6. Images uploaded to site by project manager


  • Each employee will need one computer, with the exception of the student workers, who can share one. four to five computers, one for each employee, are necessary for this project. (If a web designer is not outsourced, he or she will need a computer.) A Mac will be connected to the scanner, but the remaining computers can be PCs.
  • One to two external hard drives for storage. (Images and metadata will also be stored on the server running the site).


  • MySQL be used for organizing transcriptions and metadata.
  • Omeka, or another exhibition software that will be compatible with the database software and metadata standards used in this project.


  • TEI

Design of exhibit
This site will be based on a wiki model and will have the following categories of digital material: trial documents, correspondence, newspaper articles, and scholarly articles. Materials of these categories can be searched by type of material, keyword, and by prosecution (the EEOC) or defense (Sears). There will also be a space for user comments and links to sites on related areas of interest. Colors will be neutral and the design will provide ample negative space. In general, the site will be simple and user friendly.

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