Revealing La Révolution (the project formerly known as “The UMD French Pamphlet Project”) is officially up and running. We have finalized our project team, identified and hired three promising French graduate students to assist our rather lonely library school student. They are analyzing pamphlets like it is their job (well, I guess it technically IS their job).
Those of us on the project team are very happy to see things progressing, especially after devoting what seems like a very large percentage of our waking lives to French pamphlets over the past few weeks. The first pamphlet the students picked up during training, from the month of pluviôse, year IV (1796), argued that “Le fléau de la royauté pesait encore sur la France” (The scourge of royalty still weighed on France). Seeing their eyes light up at this and other treasures reminded us that the effort to analyze and digitize these items will definitely pay off for researchers in the end.
We have also been rewarded for our efforts by our success in overcoming some procedural challenges. One that led to a moment of pause: OCLC Connexion is probably the best tool for finding any existing records for these pamphlets, but is WAY too confusing for the French students to get up to speed quickly. Solution? Let them use WorldCat local, watching out for its non-cataloger tendencies (who displays authors as first name last name, anyway?). One of our students suggested writing abstracts instead of using subject headings, something that hadn’t even occurred to us. Solution? Have some of the students use traditional subject headings, and one write up short abstracts. It is a pilot project, after all.