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Project History

Welcome Message

Welcome to the George Eliot Archive, a digital repository of research resources for those studying the important Victorian author, George Eliot. The project was launched in December, 2018, on the eve of Eliot’s bicentenary, after several years of preparation and it continues to grow with the support of undergraduate and graduate research assistants and the expert guidance of specialist advisory editors, named below.

The George Eliot Archive is a culmination of more than a decade of scholarship focusing on George Eliot. It combines my interests in the fields of literature, biography, publishing, and digital humanities.

I developed the project during my tenure as a faculty member at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln (UNL), an institution that values digital humanities research and publishing and has become a national leader in the field. At UNL, I was supported and encouraged by colleagues in the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, the English department, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the Undergraduate Creative Activities and Research Experience (UCARE) program.

In 2021, I joined the faculty of  Auburn University Libraries in Alabama, where, with exceptional administrative support and a brilliant new team of undergraduate and graduate students, the George Eliot Archive and its sister projects continues to grow and improve.

Long before the launch of the George Eliot Archive, I learned the fundamentals of how to build a gold-standard single author digital archive as a graduate research assistant with the Walt Whitman Archive <WhitmanArchive.org> from 2008-2012. Though our project has evolved in different directions, the Whitman Archive project remains our model of excellence. 

We welcome you to explore our three distinct websites: the George Eliot Review Online (in partnership with the George Eliot Fellowship), the digitized version of this important peer-reviewed journal from 1970 to the present issue; the George Eliot Archive, where you will find more than 4,000 documents and image files related to George Eliot's life and works have been curated mainly from public domain sources; and the newly-launched George Eliot Scholars digital commons, where we bring together more recent open-access materials and provide a digital commons forum where current scholars may contribute their own works on the author. 

These three related, ever-expanding digital projects would not have been possible without the team of research assistants and associates named below and all those who supported in other ways. To everyone who has helped build this project over the years, I am truly grateful. I love this work and all of you.

-- Beverley Park Rilett

Project Staff

Dr. Beverley Park Rilett, Editor and inaugural director, is an Associate Research Professor at Auburn University in Alabama, the new home of the George Eliot Archive and sister projects.

Until August, 2021, she was Assistant Research Professor in English and a Faculty Fellow in the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where these projects were born and raised. “Dr Bev” specializes in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British literature and culture, biography, and digital humanities. Her edition of British Poetry of the Long Nineteenth Century: A Selection for College Students was re-issued in 2019 with a Creative Commons 4.0 license, which means the digital edition is now free. She has published several articles on aspects of George Eliot's life and works, and is completing a revisionist biography. She is honored to be a vice president of the George Eliot Fellowship and the digital editor of the Fellowship’s George Eliot Review journal.

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Eleanor Dumbill (2021 - present) recently completed her PhD at Loughborough University and works in research technology. Her research focuses on George Eliot, Frances Milton Trollope, and Frances Eleanor Trollope. In addition to assistant editing George Eliot Scholars, she maintains an archive of the Trollope family's periodical writing, The Periodical Trollopes.

Hailey Fischer (2020 - present ) is completing her Master of Arts in English at UNL, advised by Dr. Rilett. Her thesis explores George Eliot's relationships with her siblings, especially her sister and half-sister. Hailey is currently developing the born-digital geo-spacial exhibit, "George Eliot in England," for the "About GE" section of the Archive.

Jorryn "Jojo" Hensley (2021 - present) is a Junior English Major in the Honors Program at AU. Jojo will be completing and launching the project's first TweetDeck combining quotations, illustrations, and news--an extensive subproject started by previous team members. 

Mckenzi Marlow (2021 - present) is a first-year Master's student in English at Auburn who is finding and adding articles to the Commentary by Contemporaries section of the Archive and newly-discovered materials to the George Eliot Scholars website.

Maxwell Robeson (2020 - present), a senior English major at UNL, has been organizing, proofreading, and adding public-domain portraits to the biographical commentary on individuals included in Eliot's social network for the Relationship Web subproject. He also helped to edit the subproject we're currently calling "George Eliot's Library." 

Hannah Stefancik (2021 - present) is completing her Master’s in Technical and Professional Communication (MTPC) at Auburn University. She has begun to edit the Middlemarch Super Edition, which will layer multiple editors' notes onto the foundational Cabinet Edition of the novel.

Hollie Tucker (2021 - present) is completing her Master of Arts in English at Auburn University. As assistant editor, Hollie is reorganizing the Trello team task board, streamlining the website's tagging system, and reworking metadata for the Beinecke Letters project.

Jacob Walker (2021 - present) is a Junior Finance major and History minor in the Honors Program at AU. He is creating a multi-media presentation on the George Eliot Archive and sister projects for the Liquid Galaxy immersive display in RBD Library.

Former Research Assistants

Dr. Antje Anderson, 2019-21: created interactive maps of George Eliot's trips to Italy as part of MA thesis in Art History.

Sydney Baty, 2018-19: drafted short biographies summarizing Eliot's relationships; mined periodicals databases to find previously unknown contemporary articles on GE; presented research at academic conference

Susannah Boyer, 2018-19: located public domain sources of Eliot-related images and verified information for the relationship web summaries

Michaela Brown, 2020, located and added documents to the Archive's Commentary by Contemporaries section; developed content and metadata for its sister site, George Eliot Scholars

Mackenzie Burch, 2019-20: collected data and researched terms and accessibility for our new sister site, George Eliot Scholars; presented research at an academic conference, in a poster session, and an Honors Program thesis

Bryan Christman, 2020-21, assisted with the revisions of the Relationship Web summaries and researched books Eliot read for a new subproject, "George Eliot's Library" 

Shane Clegg, Summer 2019, improved website functionality; created (with Riley Jhi) the  interactive Chronology section of the George Eliot Archive; poster session presentation

Sara Duke, 2017-18, researched grant opportunities, developed the early database of contemporary reviews, presented posters and conference papers 

Megan Ekstrom, 2017-2019, database development and document preparation; researched Eliot's female friendships; presented posters and conference papers.

Grace Erixon, 2019-2020, helped build interactive maps of George Eliot's trips; contributed to the relationship web; general website maintenance.

Rachel Gordon, 2017-19, curated the 2018 George Eliot portrait gallery; developed the Writings database, presented at conferences and poster sessions

Sarah Guyer, 2020-21, transitioned the George Eliot Review files to a new metadata and file storage system, organized and transcribed unpublished manuscript correspondence, and processed George Eliot Scholars submissions

John Harkendorff, 2019-20, web developer with a focus on the GE Scholars site; improved the website's functionality,  developed the site's contribution interface, and facilitated email outreach to potential contributors.

Riley Jhi, 2017-2020, designed and developed the first iteration of the George Eliot Archive, created data visualization models for the relationship web, and, with Shane Clegg, the interactive chronology; conference and poster presentations.

Bailea Kerr, 2016-18, developed earliest project databases, processed images, researched comparable digital projects and the GEF history, presented at conference and poster sessions

Rose Kottwitz, Summer 2020, prepared metadata for the 896 "Cross Letters" and uploaded them all to the Archive; compared a sample set of the Cross letters with Gordon Haight's George Eliot Letters

Kaylen Michaelis, 2020-21, developed the Commentary by Contemporaries section and led the team as assistant editor

Thara Michaelis, 2020-21, developed the Commentary by Contemporaries section; prepared the Journals and Notebooks section for publication, and added George Eliot-related information and links to Wikipedia

Anne Nagel, 2019-20, transposed the "George Eliot Portrait Gallery" section to the Central Online Victorian Educator (COVE) site; researched and co-authored (with BPR) the editorial introduction, "The George Eliot Portrait Gallery: Perspectives on the Writer." 

Lindsay Roberts, 2020-21, proofread and added to the Relationship Web summaries; monitored contributions and prepared them for publication on the George Eliot Scholars site.

Kayleigh Ryan, 2020-21, primarily responsible for developing the gallery of images illustrating George Eliot's Works.

Devyn Sanderson, 2021: collected and processed illustrations of George Eliot's Works; scanned important documents for further research

Tanima Shrivastava, 2020-21: responsible for maintaining and improving the functionality of the three websites

Alexis Stoffers, 2020-21: redesigned our logo to add Eliot's signature; helped develop the "George Eliot in England" image gallery, designed a print edition of George Eliot in England. 

Rosamond Thalken, 2016-17: scanning, image processing, database development; conference and poster presentations

Brandon Unverferth, 2020-21: prepared a new digital edition of the George Eliot Character and Scenes dictionary for the website.

Derek Wagner, 2017-18: located and digitized many of the reviews of George Eliot's works by her contemporaries

Advisory and Contributing Editors

Since their inception, the George Eliot Archive and its sister sites, the George Eliot Review Online and the George Eliot Scholars digital commons, have relied on the expert advice and contributions of many others.

We deeply appreciate and recognize here the expertise and assistance of the following advisors (listed in alphabetical order rather than by duration or type of contribution):

Emily Bell

Anne-Marie Beller

Antonie van den Broek

John Burton

Eleanor Dumbill

Charlotte Fiehn

Constance Fulmer

Beryl Gray

Margaret Harris

Brenda MacKay

Linda Mayne

Kathleen McCormack

Bob Muscutt

Kenneth Price

John Rignall

Katherine Walter

Aurora Wheeler

Adrian Wisnicki