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Paul Machlis <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 19 Dec 1994 09:51:51 -0800
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Dear Mark Twain Forum members:

I am writing to inform you that sometime in the next six months, I expect
to have the Union Catalog of Clemens Letters and the Union Catalog of
Letters to Clemens accessible via the internet.  In the process of moving
from the alphabetical column-format appropriate for hard-copy browsing to
the indexed format typical for online database searching, I am reviewing
both databases for changes that will serve catalog users better, and I
invite you to make suggestions.

Internet access, which has been a goal of mine for several years, was
pushed suddenly into urgent priority when I attempted to print out the
revised catalogs for MTP this fall.  The fifty or so programs that sort
and print the catalogs (developed over about fifteen years) failed to work
because UC Berkeley has ceased to support that programming language!  The
choice between translating the programs into a supported language or
putting the same energy into internet-loading was fairly obvious.

Although I have not had time to finalize the procedures for database
conversion, the following changes are likely.  I will merge the two
databases into a combined Union Catalog of Clemens Correspondence.  Search
terms (writer/addressee) will successfully limit results to what would
formerly have been in one or the other database.  I will rid the databases
of any abbreviations in personal names, places, and notes that were
required only because of column-size limitations.  I will probably convert
dates to something closer to normal, i.e. 31 March 1889 instead of
1889.03.31.  I may also convert places, for instance CT.Hartford to
Hartford, Conn.

I expect that search results will be displayed in chronological order,
although if my programmer can provide options I know that this would be
desirable at least for what has been the Source-Addressee List.  I will
expect at least two search terms to be usable for searches but am not
sure whether more than that will be possible.

At any rate, those of you who have occasion to use the catalogs and have
missed out on corrections and additions over the past years will be glad
to have access to a frequently updated set of data.  Although the
programmer thinks that internet-access will occur fairly quickly, I am
banking on lots of technical difficulties and thus am conservatively
predicting six months.  Meanwhile, comments and suggestions are welcome.
I am briefly resubscribing to the forum so as to see any comments (for
the most part, I can't handle the volume of mail) so for a while you may
post anything to the forum.  Or reply directly to me at:

[log in to unmask]

All the best, Paul Machlis