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Washington at the Circus: Using Drupal to facilitate accessibility and discovery through the process of editing George Washington’s Presidential Household Accounts

Presenters Name: 
Carly Dotson
Co Presenters Name: 
Primary Research Mentor: 
Jennifer Stertzer
Secondary Research Mentor: 
2:00 - 3:15
Time of Presentation: 
2019 - 2:00pm to 3:15pm
Newcomb Hall Ballroom
Presentation Type: 
Presentations Academic Category: 
Grant Program Recipient: 
USOAR Program

The purpose of the George Washington Financial Papers Project is to compile the financial documents of George Washington into an accessible digital edition. A portion of this collection of documents is the Presidential Household Financial Accounts, which detail the transactions that occurred at Washington’s household in Philadelphia during his presidency (1793-97), and which I have been editing for the digital edition. I started the editing process by transcribing the documents. After this stage, using the Drupal platform, I entered information from the transcription into Drupal fields to create metadata and structured data, which increases the accessibility of Washington’s accounts by making it easier to find information within the edition. An increase in intellectual accessibility also facilitates discovery of content within the documents. I have been researching a circus mentioned by Washington in the account, which led me to refer to other sources to learn more about this event. This type of research is the beginning stage of annotation, another step in the editing process. I have learned that the circus mentioned was owned by John Bill Ricketts, and that he is credited with starting the first circus in the United States. Newspapers of the period indicate that Ricketts’ circus was highly admired by the public, including Washington, who attended the circus with his family on multiple occasions. Editing historical documents makes additional research of these documents possible because of the increased accessibility of information in the digital editions of these documents. Therefore, we can gain more insight from these texts.