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The M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives has digitized the most complete existing collection of execution records and is making them available for digital scholarship. M. Watt Espy spent his life documenting the death penalty in the United States. He created over 24,000 index cards and over 100,000 pages of reference material to document each case. The project connects this source material to a problematic 1980s-era execution dataset. We implemented Samvera’s open source digital repository software, Hyrax, which provides online access to all of the digitized materials. Hyrax allows users to query digital collections for online viewing or download the collections as data for statistical analysis. So far, the project has increased the number of known executions from 15,000 to almost 25,000 cases. Since many of these cases include communities that have been historically under-documented, such as people who were enslaved, these additions will reshape how we understand the death penalty and its role in society. The poster highlights Hyrax’s open platform configuration, and how it supports the Espy Project and promotes digital scholarship.


Poster presented at Digital Scholarship: Opportunities and Challenged Conference at the University at Albany, Albany, NY October 11th, 2019



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