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John Jay Papers

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John Jay Papers Relaunch, 3/2006.

On March 31, 2006, Columbia University Libraries launched a new, enhanced version of the Papers of John Jay as a digital sustainability initiative of the Libraries Digital Program.  The project to expand the database's content and functionality began in March 2003, and resulted in the addition of over 1,500 new documents consisting of some 12,000 page images.    In addition, we have added 1,300 new color scans of material in Columbia's Rare Book and Manuscript Library not previously included.

The database now has a total 13,390 of catalog records and 11,434 viewable documents consisting of some 30,000 viewable page images.   It includes holdings from over 90 libraries, museums and historical societies from the U.S. and Europe.  See additional statistics.

Among the system enhancements included in the 2003-2006 project were: migration from the original SQL database backend to an XML / Lucene-based architecture; an entirely rewritten search engine; better and faster image display; and a redesigned look and feel.


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Project Background.  The Papers of John Jay database was launched initially in December 2002 funded by a two-year grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and additional funding from the Florence Gould Foundation.

Institutions represented in the database in addition to Columbia, whose 5,000 original documents form the core of the collection, include the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and more than 90 repositories in the United States, Britain, France, Spain and around the world, whose cooperation in the project is gratefully acknowledged. A full list of participating institutions is available on the project's Web site.

"The Papers of John Jay" was created chiefly from photocopies of documents intended for possible inclusion in Richard B. Morris's proposed four-volume edition of selected unpublished Jay papers. Unfortunately only two volumes of the series appeared before Morris’s death in 1989, John Jay: The Making of a Revolutionary, Unpublished Papers 1745-1780 (New York: Harper & Row, 1975) and John Jay: The Winning of the Peace, Unpublished Papers, 1780-1784  (New York: Harper & Row, 1980).  When the project was discontinued in 1996, the photocopies were transferred to Columbia's Rare Book and Manuscript Library, where they supplement a collection of more than 38 linear feet of Jay family papers. An Advisory Board, chaired by Professor Bushman and including prominent historians and documentary editors, originally proposed the creation of an electronic database as the first step in providing widespread access to the research collection.

The John Jay database is a joint project of Columbia's Rare Book and Manuscript Library and Columbia Libraries Digital Library Program Division.



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