About The Etext Center

The Electronic Text Center (1992-2007), known to many as “Etext,” served the University community’s teaching and research needs in the areas of humanities text encoding for over fifteen years. Many of the resources once available on Etext are now available via VIRGO, the primary access point for all U.Va. Library digital texts and images.

In the course of migrating thousands of texts from Etext to VIRGO, it was determined that certain resources were not eligible for inclusion. Many of the texts that were not migrated can be found among other university online text collections, Google Books, and Project Gutenberg. We regret any inconvenience this may cause you and we wish you the best with your research.


Founded in 1992, the Electronic Text Center at the University of Virginia Library fostered innovation through technology and set an early precedent for the creation and use of digital materials by scholars in the humanities. Throughout its fifteen-year existence, the Electronic Text Center (known locally as “Etext”) pursued a simple, forward-looking goal: to build and maintain an Internet- accessible collection of documents central to teaching and research in the humanities, and to nurture a user community adept at the creation and scholarly use of these materials.

Originally conceptualized by Deputy University Librarian Kendon Stubbs and led by David Seaman, the Etext Center rapidly became not only one of the first and best-loved digital repositories of our shared cultural record, but also the home of impressive new scholarly output. Faculty projects, such as Prof. Stephen Railton’s “Mark Twain in his Times” and Prof. Ben Ray’s “Salem Witch Trials Documentary Archive and Transcription Project,” shaped new practices in digital research and pedagogy. Digitized content of important scholarly journals such as “Studies in Bibliography” reached new audiences. The scores of staff members and graduate students employed by the Etext Center also gained valuable technical and analytical skills during their tenure, and many are now important scholars at the vanguard of digital humanities.

None of the achievements of the Etext Center would have been possible without substantial financial support from both individual donors and funding agencies. While it would be impossible to list all of Etext’s benefactors, a few highlights are worth noting.

In 1999, The Etext Center was awarded a a $200,000 challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), sowing the seeds for a $1 million endowment. This endowment funds innovative work in information technology and humanities computing at the University of Virginia Library to this day.

The original NEH challenge grant was matched four-to-one with the generous support of many private donors. Of particular note is a 2001 contribution made by Jeffrey C. Walker, a University of Virginia graduate and former chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation. His gift of $500,000 to the Library, part of a $1.5 million gift dedicated to enhancing information technology at both Monticello and the Etext Center, enabled the digitization of important early American texts, including papers of Thomas Jefferson, as well as the addition of personnel and hardware necessary for state-of-the-art practices.

The challenge grant was met in full only a few months later — and two years ahead of schedule — when University of Virginia alumni Matthew and Nancy Walker of McLean, Va., pledged $200,000 to the support of the Etext Center. The rapid completion of this major fundraising campaign attests to the respect and success the U.Va. Electronic Text Center had garnered as an online cultural resource.

For the University of Virginia Library, support for the creation, dissemination, analysis, and preservation of digitized and born- digital works remains a primary goal. We are proud to continue the mission of the U.Va. Electronic Text Center in fresh and sustainable ways.