Tuesday, 18 September 2007

NZTE: Beaglehole: early essays on Captain James Cook

Just in from the ever excellent and totally to be supported New Zealand Electronic Text Center.
Their latest addition to the NZETC collection is a series of essays by historian and Cook scholar John Cawte Beaglehole, the renowned Captain James Cook scholar and biographer.

As they would have once said in the hallowed halls of cold and damp Oxford, after Beaglehole, there was precious little left to say.

Actually, I'm not sure about that. Anne Salmond's recent The Trial of the Cannibal Dog is a bit of all right, and the more, shall we say, populist, Captain James Cook , by Richard Hough has survived three clean outs on my bookshelves.

But old Beaglehole - well it has to be said, he is definitely, the business. And so a big thanks to the NZETE for giving us this brilliant set of 10 essays from the early work around both the three volumes of "The Journals of Captain James Cook on his Voyages of Discovery" and the biography "The Life of Captain James Cook".

The essays, date from 1956 to 1970, cover aspects of Cook's character and the process of editing the journals:

Note: the NZETC are able to publish these texts online thanks to the kind permission of Professor Tim Beaglehole.

These essays add to a small collection of letters and academic works by J C Beaglehole already available as part of the NZETC collection.

The NZETE are always pleased to receive any comments about the texts or the collection in general.

The Captain Cook Journals
You can find the full text of Cook's Journal from his first Pacific Voyage ("James Cook's Journal of Remarkable Occurrences aboard His Majesty's Bark Endeavour, 1768-1771") online as part of the National Library of Australia's South Seas project
The State Library of New South Wales in Sydney has a brilliant digital set of the papers of Joseph Banks


Hamish said...

Look, but do not touch.

"While many of these items are made publicly-accessible, none of them are public domain — all text and images are copyright to the original authors and/or publishers (where a work remains in copyright), while the presentation (including stylesheets) are copyright to Victoria University of Wellington."


While it is no doubt exciting that this material is more broadly accessible, the stringent assertion of unusability somewhat compromises my enthusiasm for it.

Given the embrace of the NZ CC Licence lauded elsewhere, this proprietary tone may deserve more pushback.

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul,

You might also want to try Nicholas Thomas' "Discoveries: The Voyages of Captain Cook". The prose is less pacy than Salmonds' slice, but still the best overall picture of the social context of Cook's travel.

Alison said...

Hi Hamish and Paul,

I agree entirely that the more digital content we can make broadly accessible for reuse the better. One of the things on our to-do list at the NZETC is to make the vast majority of our collection available in this way, most probably under a Creative Commons attribution license. Although it is not really clear from the website at the moment we always agree to requests to reuse out of copyright texts or images that we have made available online and would happily share the raw TEI XML if someone had an interesting idea on how to reuse it - text mining, corpus analysis, revisualisation etc. However the more restrictive blanket statement you quote is necessary because some of the works in the collection do remain under copyright and it is not within our purview to give permission for their republication or reuse. Examples of such works include the entire Official History of New Zealand in the Second World War (rights administered by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage), the online archive of the literary journal Sport (copyright retained by the individual contributors) and the J C Beaglehole essays themselves (copyright held by Tim Beaglehole). To encourage copyright holders of significant New Zealand texts to allow us to make them publicly available we need to be able to assure them that their rights and control of the work will be retained (if that is what they want). Being able to point to the "Conditions of Use" statement has proved very helpful in that regard and allow us to provide public access to some texts that might otherwise have remained as limited copies in rare book collections.

So, watch this space really - once we've completed the implementation and visualisation of a more fine grained rights information layer I hope your enthusiam for the material will be unbound!

Alison (Director, NZETC)

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