The Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition Online owes much to the exemplary documentary editing work of Gary Moulton and his editorial team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Center for Great Plains Studies. Moulton's twenty-year plus project has been recognized for its excellence by many scholarly organizations, including the American Historical Association, which awarded the J. Franklin Jameson Prize to the Journals.
The idea for the digital project was conceived originally by Stephen Hilliard, interim director of the University of Nebraska Press. Hilliard approached the UNL Libraries Etext Center (now the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities) and University of Nebraska–Lincoln Vice Chancellor for Research Prem Paul. With funding from Paul's office in 2002, a team of scholars, librarians, and Press staff developed a pilot site featuring 200 pages of the Nebraska edition of the Journals edited by Moulton. During the pilot period, the team explored numerous issues and decided upon international standards to follow in encoding elements. Among our goals were to enhance searching within the Lewis and Clark journals. The pilot helped us to determine how to craft XSLT stylesheets for online display of tables (a non-trivial task), how to create a site that operates within many browsers while yet maintaining the standards for design for which the University of Nebraska Press is noted, and a general plan for further growth of the site.
In 2003, the National Endowment for the Humanities Division of Public Programs funded a Bicentennial project to complete the Journals and to present other Lewis and Clark resources. In awarding the grant, NEH noted that this project fulfilled the missions of five of the divisions of the National Endowment. With this funding, we were able to create a stellar advisory board and to hire a text encoding specialist, Laura Weakly. As a collaborative project involving the Center for Great Plains Studies, the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities in the UNL Libraries, and the University of Nebraska Press, the project has taught us much about developing relationships among libraries, scholars, and publishers for the purpose of creating an exciting online resource.
The content of the digital site is much broader than the Journals themselves, with presentations of audio, video, text, and images. By adding new materials, the site offers valuable Native American perspectives to readers. Links to other Lewis and Clark resources are ones of interest to the educated public, Native Americans, scholars, and Lewis and Clark enthusiasts.
One of the significant enhancements made possible by creating a digital edition is the ability to locate personal, place, and Native American tribe names regardless of how they were spelled in the Journals. Spelling in the early 19th-Century was often nonstandard, and the new index enables a user to search the journals using modern spellings of names and to be able to locate all instances of the word. The index is found under "Read the Journals."
In August 2007, a customized tool for humanities scholars was added to the site—TokenX for Lewis and Clark. The customization took considerable effort on the part of Brian Pytlik Zillig, the author of TokenX, and the co-directors of the project are very grateful for his fine work. Through this tool, we anticipate that scholars will be able to explore the Journals in different ways, and that TokenX will help reveal new lines of scholarly inquiry into the Expedition. Thus, the journey is not yet ended and we proceed on.