The Alfred Escher Foundation is publishing letters written by and to Alfred Escher as part of a multimedia project that encompasses a series of printed volumes as well as an online edition. Both editions are based on the same XML documents from which any form of presentation can be generated (single-source principle).
While the printed edition only includes selected letters, the e-edition aims to publish all the letters sent to and by Escher in full. With about 5,000 letters in the collection, this means the digital project is dealing with a total volume of more than 27,000 pages of documents, plus additional information and commentaries. The digital form allows the editors to link different content together in a dense, cross-referenced network. The browser-based user interface makes it easy to find the desired content and to navigate smoothly between documents. This opens up new ways of working with such an extensive stock of source material. The letters and other documents are also available as digital facsimiles, emphasizing the physical reality of the papers and offering a fully transparent complement to the transcriptions. All of the commentary, summaries, short biographies, maps, tables and listings produced for the printed edition will be taken over into the digital edition and augmented with further information.
The data model and data in the multimedia edition are based on XML and follow the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) guidelines – a widely used standard for coding historical texts and documents. The project ensures that academics and the interested public have numerous ways to access Escher's correspondence.