Laboring-Class Poets Online is currently under construction as an Omeka project.
The foundation for Laboring-Class Poets Online is a database of about 1,700 British laboring-class poets who published between 1700-1900. Our digital resource covers poets who published in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and lived anywhere in the British Isles, with a small number of poets from other British colonies, especially North America and Australia. The research began three decades ago and has continued as a transatlantic collaboration for the last thirteen years, led by Professors John Goodridge (Nottingham-Trent University) and Bridget Keegan (Creighton University). The database currently holds information compiled from extensive bibliographical, critical, and historical sources; we are in the process of transitioning from an alphabetical listing in Word document form and one limited web platform to a more flexible, accessible, and scholarly Omeka exhibit. Our short-term goal is to create a usable and deeply informative searchable exhibit of the poets, featuring for each entry a concise biographical entry, vital dates, key publications (books, periodical publications, anthology contributions, and modern editions), and secondary and reference sources. This will eventually extend into a fuller set of resources and links, as books are digitized, made available, and already being discovered thanks to enterprises like Google Books and Gale’s Eighteenth-Century Collections Online.
A digital medium is more appropriate than the current (print) form of the database, not only because the information contained will be made more accessible, more user-friendly, and more easily searchable, but also because of the dynamic nature of the ongoing research. The new online structure enables continual updating and revising of information as work continues. Transforming the information to an Omeka exhibit from a print bibliography also makes the information more robust, as we are forced to return to each entry systematically and seek new ways to expand and strengthen. Codifying our textual information into database fields has strengthened the organization and standardization of the database and places a greater emphasis on bibliographical and reference information (such as British Library and DOI numbers) that is already somewhat represented. Finally, transition to a web-based resource has transformed the already useful, but traditionally two-dimensional, information contained in the database into a resource that is much more functional, covers more and increasingly specific information, and has further direct connections to related outside resources. There are numerous small examples of these transformations: including images, song files, and video clips that bring the poets and their works to life (allowing for a more interactive and immersive experience, as we can now include); changing [qv] notations to active links between entries; using tag clouds to visualize connections within groups and schools of poets; linking entries to online archived editions of original volumes, via Google Books, ECCO, Project Gutenberg, and other developing resources; integrating the Neatline tool to map spatial and temporal trends in laboring-class poetry.