LSE's Webbs on the Web project

By Julianne Nyhan, on 14 February 2012

Beatrice Webb, co-founder of both the London School of Economics and Political Science and the Fabian movement, left a fascinating 70-year account of social upheaval and history in the diaries which have now been made freely available online to launch LSE’s digital library. UCLDH collaborated with this project since its early stages: Julianne Nyhan served on the project’s Advisory board and students on the DH MA/MSc programme carried out user testing of the site before it went live.

Two versions of the diaries went live last week: the actual manuscript as well as 8,000 pages of a transcribed version that is cross-referenced with the date fields indexed from
the manuscript version. Both versions can now be viewed side-by- side for comparison. The project, “Webbs on the Web”, was made possible with funding from the Webb Memorial Trust.
Sue Donnelly, head of archives at LSE, said:

Her diaries are remarkably rich. The style is very personal and often introspective but
she can be analytical and gossipy as well at times.

The diaries were chosen as the launch collection for the new LSE Digital Library. LSE is one of the first academic libraries to provide a
digital library, a service which is becoming more and more necessary due to the requirement to collect, preserve and provide access to digital material.
This is compounded by the popularity of social media today and its importance as a historical record, particularly to an institution like LSE.
Ed Fay, manager of the digital library, said:

It is a way of storing potentially anything in digital format. It allows us to archive books, photographs and maps but also blogs, podcasts, social media and
other forms of communication which are increasingly important in academic life. We don’t know exactly what the future will bring but we
needed to build our capacity to respond.

For more details on the digital library contact Ed Fay e.fay@lse.ac.uk
For more information on the content of the Webb diaries or other LSE archive collections contact Sue Donnelly s.donnelly@lse.ac.uk
To view the Webb diaries, visit LSE Digital Library at http://digital.library.lse.ac.uk