The William Blake Archive is pleased to announce the public release of two major new features: revamped search engines for Archive content and a new research application called the Virtual Lightbox.

Our new search engines (Main menu > Search) provide a powerful, streamlined interface for exploring both textual and pictorial elements of Blake’s work in the Archive.  In addition to searching transcriptions of Blake’s work, users can now search visual motifs, work titles, and editors’ notes and detailed illustration descriptions.  Users can also restrict search results by date range, order them by composition or print date, or broaden them by including synonyms and related words from the Archive’s new search term thesaurus.  These features make possible precise searches for details in Blake’s images.  For example, users can search for figures in specific postures (such as “running” or “arms raised”) in designs executed during the 1790s.  It is also possible to search for many motifs simultaneously—for example, all designs with sheep, AND trees, AND a shepherd—or to search for works containing any one of the search terms—for example, all designs with sheep, OR trees, OR a shepherd. The updated search engines also restore search functionality to the Archive’s electronic edition of The Complete Poetry and Prose of William Blake, edited by David V. Erdman.

The Virtual Lightbox is an application that allows users to collect, study, and manipulate images in the Archive. It incorporates all the features of our  existing Java applets, Inote and ImageSizer, while adding a number of new capabilities that make it an ideal workspace for research in the Archive.  For example, the Lightbox allows users to examine works in different media side by side; to crop, zoom, and juxtapose images for close study; and to access image information and illustration descriptions from within the Lightbox workspace. The Archive plans to release the source code of the Virtual Lightbox under the MIT License later this year.  For more information about the Virtual Lightbox, including a tutorial on its use, please visit its online help documentation in the Archive.

Sample Lightbox session

Both the search engines and Virtual Lightbox application have been developed by William Shaw, technical editor of the Archive. The Virtual Lightbox is an Archive-specific revision of Virtual Lightbox 2.0, originally designed and developed by Matthew Kirschenbaum with Amit Kumar.  For further information, see the Virtual Lightbox page at the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities.

As always, the William Blake Archive is a free site, imposing no access restrictions and charging no subscription fees. The site is made possible by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the University of Rochester, the continuing support of the Library of Congress, and the cooperation of the international array of libraries and museums that have generously given us permission to reproduce works from their collections in the Archive.

Morris Eaves, Robert N. Essick, and Joseph Viscomi, editors
Ashley Reed, project manager, William Shaw, technical editor
The William Blake Archive