Thursday, August 16, 2007

Anarchy in Jamaica Plain, etc.

I had some contact with John Ruch, a writer for the Jamaica Plain Gazette, awhile back. He had seen a letter from William Batchelder Greene to Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler, posted here. I gave him a general rundown on Greene's life, and what I knew about his time in Jamaica Plain. His article, "Anarchy in JP," is now available, and thanks largely to Dan Clore has been getting quite a bit of attention in anarchist circles. John did a very nice job, particularly as there are very few very complete biographical sources on Greene. (You can see my own first attempt at a capsule biography on Greene's Myspace profile.)

[NOTE: Thanks to an "angel" from the venerable anarchy-list, I'll probably get through the month without any site downtime. Thanks to everyone who has helped me keep projects rolling through an unexpected lean time.]

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Misc. notes

Traffic on all my blogs has until recently been little more than a trickle, and recent excitements over the archives of Liberty, Lucifer, the Radical Review, and the Alarm has increased that to, well, a strong trickle. But the increase has been enough to inspire me to install some better counters and spend a little more time analyzing traffic. Someone at is reading Liberty. Lucifer the Light-Bearer is apparently not such a bad name in the 21st century, judging by the continuing interest in that archive. But about that archive. . .

The editors of Lucifer were apparently consistently unable to keep track of which issue of a volume they were publishing, putting the wrong numbers on issues with surprising regularity, although they seem to have been much more accurate in assigning "whole numbers" to the issues. Perhaps they were simply exhausted each issue after calculating what the date was in the "Year of Love" reckoning which they used. At some point soon, I will be adopting a whole-number system for labeling the pdfs, if only because it has been hard for me to even tell what I have and have not scanned using the volume and issue designations. I'll try to get a more complete front-page on the site at that point, to minimize confusion.

I'm slowly but surely doing the OCR work on The Radical Review. Text will be linked to the index and posted at From the Libertarian Library. The most recent addition is "Female Kinship and Maternal Filiation," by Elie Reclus.

Finally, I expect a short interruption of service at the Libertarian Labyrinth site in a week or so, for a week or so. It's a cash-flow thing. Liberty will still be available via the torrent site, and the blogs will be uneffected.

La Presse Anarchiste

Before I had seriously begun my 2006 archiving push, John Zube mentioned the work of a French archivist, Vincent Dubuc, who had taken on a large-scale digitizing project. It was one of the encouragements to set a target and begin a regular scanning routine. Thanks to the attention that the Liberty archive has been getting (new thank-you's to Ken MacLeod and the Anarchism Community on LiveJournal for recent traffic), Vincent got in touch. His site, La Presse Anarchiste, is well worth some browsing time. Regular readers may be particularly interested in E. Armand's papers, L’Ère nouvelle and L'Unique, but there is plenty to read through. He has also apparently compiled a CD-ROM collection of L'Autonomie Individuelle (1887-1888), a french individualist anarchist paper, due for release this fall. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Tucker's "Radical Review"

I had a happy coincidence of time and ambition today, with the result that the four issues of Benjamin R. Tucker's Radical Review have joined Liberty in the archive. Once again, these are scans from microfilm, with all the defects you would expect, but I'll be working to complete the OCR work on these in the near future. I have broken the 826 pages down by article (with an occasional pdf covering two or three book reviews.) Everything is linked from the oddly arranged contents page published in the bound volume. Use that one to browse, or go straight to Wendy McElroy's much more complete index. There is a lot in these pages, including work by John Weiss, Sidney H. Morse, Lysander Spooner, Ezra H. Heywood, Henry Edger, Joshua King Ingalls, Dyer D. Lum, Stephen Pearl Andrews, Christopher P. Cranch, and other familiar names from anarchist and free religionist circles.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Liberty Site and such

I've set up a somewhat more attractive and informative front-end for The Liberty Site archive. I would encourage folks who are linking to the archive to direct readers there.

Thanks to everyone who has publicized the work. That includes Roderick Long (waxing hyperbolic on his own blog and in a more restrained mode at the Mises Institute), Kevin Carson, Presto, Thomas Van Wyck, camelCase, William Gillis, Bernd Haug, and mentions at Positive Liberty and the paxx:blog. I almost missed Brian Doherty's nod at Reason; he linked to both the Liberty and Lucifer archives, but managed not to mention where they came from. That's OK. you should still take a look at his book, which covers some interesting ground. Apologies to anyone I missed. A reminder, too, that Scott put the whole batch up at One Big Torrent.

I have to admit that, having scanned all 3610 pages, my initial feeling was a kind of despair at getting the next phases off the ground, and a general feeling of dissatisfaction with the quality of the scans, etc. Much of that has been, undoubtedly, other sort of discouragement and dissatisfaction coloring things. But the last couple of weeks have given me a chance to start using the archive myself, and to dip slowly into the OCR and transcription work again, and (now that I'm no longer suffering from microform-viewer-induced seasickness, things look a little different.

My 2006 scanning initiative put slightly over 5000 original pages of material into the archive in text form, together with a thousand or so more in pdfs. The first nine months of 2007 have seen about an equal number of pages added, with the pdf-to-text ratio roughly reversed. Not counting some texts archived in both forms, there's be roughly 11,000-12,000 original pages of material added in 19 months. That feels OK. That's a body of work that we can do something with, particularly when it is supplemented by other laborers in the field. A few links:
The next phase for The Liberty Site is a wiki, and perhaps a bit more, where those interested can contribute to the text-transcription process, discuss the contents of Liberty, work on indexing or on tracing debates into other periodicals or publications, and from which individuals can draw fodder for other projects. I'll try to gather my thoughts tomorrow on why that phase should be exciting to you, even if you're not an obsessive archivist like your truly.