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Presentation
The Vault at Pfaff's: An Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York.
Poster session presented at the Joint Conference of the Society for Textual Scholarship and the Association for Documentary Editing, Lincoln, NE. (2015)
  • Edward Whitley, Lehigh University
  • Robert Weidman, Lehigh University
Abstract
The Vault at Pfaff's is an online collection of primary and secondary source documents about the community of bohemian artists, writers, journalists, actors, and critics who joined with Walt Whitman at Charles Pfaff's beer cellar in midtown Manhattan during the years 1855-65. While the Pfaff's bohemians have always held a small place in American literary history thanks to their association with Whitman, there are many unanswered questions about the impact that they had--either as individuals or as a group--on the literary, artistic, and theatrical culture of the antebellum United States. The mission of The Vault at Pfaff's is twofold: (1) to gather and organize documents about the Pfaff's bohemians--we currently have some 8,000 records in our database--in order to facilitate scholarly inquiry into this moment of American literary history; and (2) to create interactive maps, timelines, and biographical sketches that will introduce undergraduates and non-scholarly readers to the broader issues surrounding the first appearance of cultural bohemianism in the United States. While our first mission is to facilitate research by scholars and graduate students, our second mission is to create something akin to a public humanities gallery exhibit. The majority of the work that we have completed on The Vault at Pfaff's since 2004 has focused on our first mission; as we began the next phase of work on this project in 2014 our attention has turned more toward the second. As such, we are working to construct sections of the site in ways that will make them similar to gallery exhibits one might associate with public humanities projects in that their goals are not to provide an exhaustive repository of texts, but rather to introduce scholars, students, and interested readers to somewhat broader topics. We have conceived of these sections of the site as having more of a storytelling function than a research function.
Publication Date
2015
Citation Information
Edward Whitley and Robert Weidman. "The Vault at Pfaff's: An Archive of Art and Literature by the Bohemians of Antebellum New York." Poster session presented at the Joint Conference of the Society for Textual Scholarship and the Association for Documentary Editing, Lincoln, NE. (2015)
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/rob_weidman/3/