Papers of the War Department

Director and Primary Investigator, 2017-present
Funder: American Council of Learned Societies, Digital Extension Grant

The Papers of the War Department 1784-1800, (PWD) developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media (RRCHNM) is a significant legacy digital humanities project that presents a collection of nearly 43,000 documents with extensive and searchable metadata linked to digitized images of each document. This collection unites copies of the lost files in a true virtual archive as no one physical archive, private or public, holds and maintains these records of the early American government. PWD is an important source of research for scholars and enthusiasts alike. Scholars will find evidence on many subjects in the history of “vast early America,” from the handling of Indian affairs, global affairs, pensions and procurement to the nature of the first American citizens’ relationship with their new Federal government. Military history enjoys a wide audience of enthusiasts, interested citizens, and active and retired military members who seek out this remarkable collection. Because PWD contains easy-to-find names, events, and places it is a very important resource for family researchers and genealogists. PWD also contains over 2,000 documents pertaining to federal relations with more than forty Native American tribes. The audience for PWD is wide and varied, and we anticipate that audience to grow through the efforts funded by this proposal.

The next phase of this digital documentary edition is to migrate its assets to Omeka S for a more stable infrastructure. RRCHNM will improve PWDs user experience by implementing a new web design, and will increase access the project’s visibility with an array of targeted entry points for scholars, students and teachers, history enthusiasts, and genealogists, together with a new outreach plan that invites researchers of all levels to discover and learn from this vital record of our early national history.