The American Verse Project, an expanding, electronic and full-text archive of mostly pre-1920 American poetry, is a collaborative effort between the University of Michigan Humanities Text Initiative and the University of Michigan Press. An impressive endeavor, the project digitizes into SGML code published collections of poetry from well-known authors including Stephen Vincent Benét, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, and John Greenleaf Whittier, to lesser-known poets such as Eloise A. Bibb, Adelaide Crapsey, John B. Tabb, and Jones Very.
The project site interface fully supports both teaching and scholarly research with its simple, boolean, and proximity search options. In addition, the site design is easy enough to use in satisfying any level of academic or personal poetic needs. Users may browse not only the hyperlinked table of contents of individual volumes, but also the entire texts. Many of the project's pages also provide a link to the Hyperbibliography to American Poetry, a companion resource and extraordinary project underway to create a comprehensive bibliography of print and electronic, pre-1921 American poets' works.
Noteworthy is the site's explanation of their effort regarding the critical applications of the verse collection. "One of our goals in making these resources available is to offer a new resource and mechanism for critical writing in an electronic environment." Although the content of the site has not been officially updated since July 30, 1999, the 160+ texts that are available are both valuable and useful to the literary scholar.
The American Verse Project may be searched and items copied free of charge by individuals for personal use, teaching (copies for class distribution included), and research, with the caveat that a condition of use statement be included with the copied text. The archives may be linked to Web sites freely; however, libraries and scholars are expected to contact the University of Michigan Press before providing server access, editing texts, or creating new products.
Cynthia E. Saylor
The University of North Carolina at Pembroke