Digital archives have the power to weave together objects and texts otherwise siloed by time and space. In so doing, they reflect and forge new interpretive possibilities. I’ve created this project not just to display rare print materials, but to put digital objects into dialogue with one another and to create interpretive opportunities for users and creators of material on this site.

Archives take many forms. Some archives are made of documents written by famous people and can be accessed in repositories open to the public. Other archives are less easy to find or access. Those located in family attics, under beds, or within the gates of historic cemeteries and gardens operate as figurative or literal archives. The meaning of the word archive has expanded in recent years with the rise and awareness of digital archives and thematic research collections as scholarly platforms for interpretive curation and knowledge production. While many scholars see a sharp distinction between physical records and digital surrogates, The East End Digital Library makes the case for using digital surrogates as raw materials for the creation of new digital records. At the same time, I’ve blended separable archives (The Lyon Archive and the Polack Archive) to suggest that boundaries are both essential features of the way archives narrate stories and of their power to trasgress systems of containment.

With this approach in mind, this site has been designed specifically to inspire and enable interactive, experiential readings of the writing remains of London’s East Enders. Like any other archive, The East End Digital Library is an interpretive ecosystem where a curated collection of ideas and images that prompt new narratives and new ways of interacting with the past.

Click here to return to The East End Digital Library

Click here to visit The Polack Archive

Click here to return to The Lyon Archive homepage