The William Blake Archive

A Cataloging Standard of Excellence

In need of a design makeover after nearly 15 years, The William Blake Archive is nevertheless a beautiful example of digital preservation for the academic community.

The Pastorals of Virgil, copy 1, object 12 (Bentley 504.26) "Caius Julius Cæsar"
The interface is ‘strictly academic,’ or should I say, designed strictly for the serious academic researcher. Sadly, students on-the-go in the 21st century will be far less likely to take the time required to discover its many delightful images, and connect with its superb text descriptions. The help file is helpful, but daunting to say the least.

Updated regularly — as recently as January 2011 — the Editors are serious about adding content as often as possible (six to eight times a year). Key features include: Image Enlargement; incredibly well documented Copy Information for each object; Illustration Descriptions; Textual Transcripts; and Editors’ Notes, where warranted.

All features require popup windows, and the Inote Annotation Viewer requires Java, so the Archive can be somewhat tricky to navigate for all but the most determined. Any true scholar, or passionate fan of Blake and his work will undoubtedly gain new insight to the man, his life and work, and valuable resources for further study. Pack a lunch and visit The Archive! My favorite exhibit so far is this collection of plates from John Gabriel Stedman, Narrative, of a Five Years’ Expedition, against the Revolted Negroes of Surinam, which features sixteen remarkable (and potentially contentious) engravings — both in black, and hand-tinted colour versions.

Speaking of William Blake

Archival Digital Preservation Services is pleased to present reproductions of two very interesting examples of Blake’s early work, when he was a very young man, apprenticed as a commercial engraver.

  1. Scene from the Beggar’s Opera
  2. Pastoral Depiction of Rural Life

For enquiries, please email