A team of professors is working to use literature to illustrate environmental change in the Great Lakes. Individuals from the Universities of Michigan and Illinois have received $75,000 to build a digital tool to search Midwestern library materials for historical descriptions of the region. University of Illinois Professor Robert Morrissey says he hopes the project will provide a fuller image of the Great Lakes throughout history than scientific data alone can give.
“Anybody who’s done research in some of these old documents knows that there are some really rich descriptions by some of these travelers. Some of their accounts are really fascinating and provide a great window into environmental issues, and historians haven’t quite used them to their fullest potential I don’t think yet.”
Morrissey says the digital tool will become available for public use once the project is finished. He says the aggregation tool is set to be completed by Fall, and then he’ll begin looking through historical materials.
The project is supported by the Humanities Without Walls consortium, based at the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Humanities Without Walls consortium is funded by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.