About the Project

Creating Digital Images:

The documents in this collection were photographed at the Saint John Free Public Library in Saint John, New Brunswick. UNB Libraries Electronic Text Center and UNB Audio/Visual Department staff traveled to Saint John for a two day shoot. ET160 color film was used and a Lieca copy stand. The film was processed at the Audio/Visual Department before being scanned to PhotoCD at Appleby Colorlab in Fredericton, New Brunswick.

The PhotoCD versions of the images were then used as the basis for the editing of the digital collection, using Adobe Photoshop 4.0. The first step was to convert the larger PICT file to JPEG file format and to edit from the JPEG version. Images were saved at a standard quality of 8 in JPEG format. A decision was made to have finished images with a resolution of 288dpi and a size of 1000 pixels in width (except when readability allowed them to be less than 1000). With a black border this size would provide readability, clarity and an effective representation of the document condition.

The integrity of the document was preserved in all cases with adjustments being made only to the brightness and contrast to provide a clearer image. Editing was not done to enhance or reconstruct the documents in any way. The images on the site provide a digital representation in JPEG format of the archived documents.

The finished jpegs images were then used to create the smaller versions known as thumbnails. The thumbnails are 72dpi and range in size from 72 x 108, 108 x 72 or 108 x 108 pixels to maintain the image dimensions and orientation to be closely representative of the actual document. The thumbnail images provide a link from the catalogue page to the full size page in the document.

Graphic Images:

In creating the overall design of the site we tried to focus on the collection of documents being represented and thereby using images from within the documents. The seal found on the main page is the "Great Seal of New Brunswick" from document A69. Larger images of both the front and back of the seal can be viewed in the document itself. Adjustments in both brightness and contrast were made to the seal image and a drop shadow added, once again using Adobe Photoshop 4.0, to create the image which appears on the main page. The background in the index and catalogue sections is a sample of the vellum upon which many of the documents in this collection were written. Vellum can be found in a range of colors from very light off-white to light brown. The vellum was once again used in the transcription page to provide a left border and as the base for the site specific navigation buttons. The navigation arrows in the catalogue section were found on a map of the time period.


Transcription involves reading the original manuscript and typing it into an electronic format. The most important issue in transcription was to make certain that manuscripts were typed exactly as they appeared in the originals, including any abbreviations and misspellings. Line breaks were maintained as this makes it easier to move back and forth between the graphic image and text file (transcription) for any particular page a user sees on the WWW. All transcription was done in Saint John at the Saint John Free Public Library.

Once the documents were typed into a wordprocessor (WordPerfect7) they were ready to be encoded and for this we used what is known as SGML or Standard Generalized Markup Language.

Document Markup:

Voices, Vessels and Vellum text files (documents) were marked up according to the TEI-lite DTD, an application of SGML for various types of texts including humanities and historical. The core tag set was used together with the prose base tagset, tags for transcription and tables. In each document person and place names were encoded using the <name> element with the "type" attribute:

<name type="person">Samuel Johnston</name> <name type="place">Saint John</name>

Additions and deletions were tagged with the <add><del> tags, respectively:

Please write to <add> tell </add> me of your plans. <del> Major </del> Colonel Abraham would like you to visit.

Archaic and misspellings were tagged with the <orig> tag with the regularized spelling within <reg> :

<orig reg="Friday">Fryday</orig> <orig reg="table">tabel</orig>


The systems end of the project involved running the files through scripts written in PERL. These scripts, or "filters" specified the treatment of individual tags - how they were to be formatted for the WWW published document and how tags would be translated to HTML. Scripts were also written to create our HTML web pages "on the fly". Each of the catalogue pages with thumbnails and document summaries were created with perl scripts that extracted summary information from each of the text files. HTML pages had to be written only for those documents that were not yet transcribed.

To Learn More:

For a more in depth description of text encoding and electronic publishing you can access various sites and papers from the University of New Brunswick Libraries Electronic Text Centre's "Sites and Resources" link.

Project Staff:

Darryl Whetter, website design and digital imaging.
Esther Brewer, website design and digital imaging.
Greta Rogers, transcription and text encoding.
Steve Sloan (UNB Libraries), systems.
Barb Malcolm (Saint John Regional Library), transcription.
Diane Buhay (Saint John Free Public Library), transcription.
Lisa Charlong (UNB Libraries Electronic Text Centre), text encoding and supervision.
Alan Burk (UNB Libraries Electronic Text Centre), supervision.