Gordon Parks's The Learning Tree

Editorial Statement

Materials in the Archive

The Archive hopes to eventually host digitized versions of materials artefacts relating to the novel and movie of The Learning Tree. These artefacts were created by Parks or under his auspices and comprise the following:  

In acquiring the usage of these materials, we are developing cooperative projects to digitize and organize the materials at each of the holding institutions where said materials reside. Since we are developing the project on Scalar, we are limited in the size of the media items that we directly upload to the platform. Instead we will be developing strategies with the holding institutions to embed works directly described in their holdings. This has two advantages: 

First, it maintains an archival quality record of the materials on stable servers and information infrastructure. 

It promotes interest and traffic to our partner’s holdings, in order to explore their digital collections. 


Contextual material


Our goal is not only to present materials that archivally represent Gordon Parks works,  but also to produce contextual commentary, scholarship and reflection in order to strengthen the understanding of and ability for students and scholars to reflect on these materials in their historical and cultural context. To this end we plan on engaging scholars and students to produce the following contextual materials 

Each of these items will go through several layers of editorial review before publication: 

Editorial Methodology

Our editorial methodology is an archival editorial rationale: the overriding goal is not the maintenance of theoretical purity but the creation of a durable scholarly (and pedagogical) resource that will be available free to all who have the means of access. We will engage a collaborative system of “distance editing” the follows a fixed workflow. This system and workflow consists of acquiring and color correcting digital images of artefacts, editing and transcribing texts, describing and marking up images, and compiling these files in a database accessible through an interactive multimedia portal for electronic publication. 

Every digitized artifact in the Parks Archive will go through the following six steps in preparation of archival items for publication: (1) gain access to archival quality images available through institutional holdings; (2) the creation of a durable XML document, which contains all of the technical and editorial information necessary for publication, in three steps: (a) textual transcription, always from the close inspection of individual objects, but sometimes accelerated by the existence of transcriptions from other copies of the “same” work; (b) illustration description, created from scratch; and, (c) the creation of a copyheader - either from scratch or adapted from templates--which contains extensive bibliographical information about the original artifact, an account of physical characteristics and provenance. At this point, with a complete draft version the final step will be draft publication by the project manager makes on a testing site for final proofing by one or more of the editorial board members. 

The following editorial guidelines are intended to cover the various multimedia artifacts that populate the archive. 

Edited Archival Texts

Text from contextual materials will be directly published in Scalar, and turned into semantic documents via the platform’s formatting requirements. The goal of each of these documents is to create viable public texts that can guide readers through the legacy of parks and his work.

The transcriptions of texts we offer are, in terms of textual criticism, as "diplomatic" as the medium allows. This is in line with the archival dimension of our project, our texts are conservative transpositions of the original into  conventional type fonts, retaining not only Parks’s capitalization, punctuation, and spelling, but also an approximation of his page layout. When developing edited texts appropriate for the publishing environment, we will maintain as many of the changes and annotations denoted in the original.

All textual transcriptions, illustrations descriptions and other contextual information will be encoded in XML files according to the TEI guidelines for durability. 


Fidelity in the reproduction of images is a top priority.We encourage our partnering holding institution to create archival quality digital reproductions. We recognize that digital reproductions can never be perfect, and images we produce separate from the digitization efforts of our partnering institutions may not reach the quality "archival" in the sense sometimes intended—virtual copies that might stand in for originals after a fire. But we recognize that and our intention is to supply reproductions that users can depend upon in their research.

Each image appears along with its full bibliographical metadata (production history, physical characteristics, provenance, present location). Because Scalar relies heavily on bringing material from external repositories, we plan to encourage publication of the images with robust metadata within those institutional repositories. When drawing from these institutions, we will bring at least the following metadata described below in "Contextual Information" when available, but expect the organization to provide more robust metadata.

Audio and Video Files: 

We primarily plan to include digital video files in three formats: 

Contextual Information

The Archive provides information about all the artifacts (images, audio files etc) in several complementary forms at more than one level. Although information cannot be completely separated from interpretation, our emphasis is strongly on information and hence on description. (If interpretations are added to the Archive, they will be identified as such). The following contextual information will be provided:

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