"Digital Archives and Pacific Cultures" began with the first instruction in TEI XML at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg in Fall 2012. Twelve students and two professors (Elisa Beshero-Bondar and Sayre Greenfield) worked together in the Digital Humanities class at Pitt-Greensburg to share the task of transcription and coding--just one of several digital research assignments in a course representing roughly equal parts text-mining from library databases, coding of new digital resources, and orientation to theoretical concepts in Digital Humanities. For our sequence on TEI XML coding, we compared Anna Seward's first published version of her "Elegy on Captain Cook" of 1780 (written within a few months of England's receiving the shocking news of Cook's death), with a significantly altered longer version published in 1810 (after Seward's death). Our markup involved parallel segmentation, or coding of a single XML document that compares multiple versions of a text. Our goal then, as now, was to make important but difficult-to-find 18th-century texts on Pacific contact freely available in a good quality edition online. Only the 1810 version of Seward's poem is freely available from Google Books, while to access the more historically significant 1780 edition would require a university library's proprietary databases, in this case Gale's ECCO. A small group of three students then chose for their final group project to begin the task of coding Gerald Fitzgerald's little-known 1779 poem "The Injured Islanders," which Elisa had unearthed in a text-mining exercise.

By the time this course concluded, the two professors realized that much work could continue and more texts should be coded and examined, particularly to investigate the interconnections between literary texts and the extensive Pacific voyage accounts of the 18th century. We also realized that a course on digital archives and Pacific island cultural contact should really be interdisciplinary and involve co-teaching with a social scientist, such as an anthropologist or historian, alongside one of us English faculty who launched the class. Gregory Bondar, an adjunct instructor in Anthropology with strong backgrounds in Mechanical Engineering as well as applications of computer technology shares a deep interest in Pacific cultural history, and readily agreed to join the research team, as well as to co-teach with Elisa the next run of the class in Fall 2013. Alongside his training in archaeology and cultural anthropology, Greg's strong understanding of the history of technology makes him a wonderful resource for comprehending the highly technical accounts of new equipment in use on the voyages. As well, he is experienced with mapping applications and with the complex social organization of Polynesian cultures.

We faculty successfully proposed to continue the course at the Greensburg campus, and sought more training ourselves in digital research methods. Elisa Beshero-Bondar and Greg Bondar, together with Elisa's undergraduate research assistant, Megan Hughes, accepted David Birnbaum's invitation to take his Spring 2013 DH course in Computational Methods in Humanities. Our work this spring with the Oakland Digital Humanities class involved designing an archive for use in the next round of our course at Greensburg in Fall 2013. We worked together with Scott Morgan, an Oakland honors college student, on preparing TEI files of the Pacific voyage narratives of Captains Wallis and Cook from the 1760s and 1770s, and on the complex process of generating KML mapping files from geographic data recorded in the voyage narratives. We also continued TEI markup, with an emphasis on context encoding toward developing a comprehensive index of people, places, and cultural artifacts, and to develop digital tools for analyzing 18th-century descriptions of European-Pacific cultural interaction.

We gratefully acknowledge the generous assistance of Nicholas Thomas, Professor of Historical Anthropology at the University of Cambridge and co-director of the Artefacts of Encounter project team, who readily sent us his electronic transcriptions of Johann and Georg Forster's narratives, which he edited in the late 1990s and early 2000s. These important accounts are not available in the ECCO or Fanny Burney Collection databases, nor in web resources like Project Gutenberg or the Internet Archive, and as they offer significant cultural and scientific material that dissents from the more readily available voyage accounts, we are all the more eager to take on the challenge of adapting dated word-processing documents to prepare a lasting digital resource here using the TEI.

In Fall 2013, we coordinated our second digital humanities course at Pitt-Greensburg with this project, and our new team of students learned XML coding and data visualization while contributing new voyage files, cultural analysis, charts, and maps for the site. With each round of our DH course, we plan to investigate a new cluster of texts, and to build upon unfinished work from the previous year. Much important material on Pacific cultures and European contact will benefit from compilation and analysis in a thorough way using the analytical methods of Digital Humanities. As we build an archive, we professors will continue to work alongside our students, while also teaching XML and related coding as we have been learning it ourselves.

One of our goals for the next round of voyage analysis is to run the voyage files and poetry through MALLET topic modelling software to attempt a "distant reading" and see what topics may emerge as significant for future investigation.

We will be developing this "About" page to discuss our project goals and how far along we are. For now, please see our old index page for this site, which contains a recent record of our coding work and a sort of "under the hood" view of our process of compiling five rather enormous voyage accounts in TEI P5 to study alongside poetry.