Technology Update Improves Efficiency
As reported in Lincoln Legal Briefs No. 1 (June 1987), we started work with what was then almost state-of-the-art computer equipment: a Compaq 286 computer with a 40 MB hard drive, 2 PC-XT computers, three dot-matrix printers, and a tape backup system. Through public and private funding over the years, our computer system has now evolved into a local area network consisting of a server and 12 workstations which is also connected to the wide area network of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.
The advantage of this technological advancement to the project is the ability of staff to share files. Our search effort since 1990 has been based on a working list of Lincoln cases contained in a data file called "ALLCASES." This file was originally compiled from references to Lincoln cases from a variety of primary and secondary sources pertaining to Lincoln's law career. The file contains the name of the case (plaintiff and defendant), the cite where we found reference to it, the date of the case, the court it was tried in, the division, the action, the attorneys, and general notes about the case. As our researchers visited county courthouses and other repositories, the ALLCASES has added to and revised as our knowledge of Lincoln's cases has grown. It has been a real challenge at times keeping a "current" ALLCASES list on as many as four laptop computers working in different courthouses or repositories. Several times we have had to combine files and "weed out" duplicates just to make sure we haven't missed adding a case to our working case list.
Work with the several thousand Lincoln cases in Sangamon County Circuit Court has posed an especially difficult problem, with daily additions and changes to the ALLCASES file. Now that the network is set up, however, the accessioning of Sangamon County Circuit Court cases will be easier because the five staff members who are processing the records can share a common file.
Not only will the network improve efficiency in processing Sangamon County records through the working Lincoln case list, it will allow staff direct access to the project's database, the Lincoln Legal Papers Index, or LLPIX. When complete, the LLPIX database will become the index to The Complete Lincoln Legal Papers. It contains detailed information on every case handled by Lincoln (or partner during the partnership), every document in relevant cases, every person associated with a case, a brief of the case, and a subject index of every case.
The network sets up the working environment necessary for not only completing work on The Complete Lincoln Legal Papers but for beginning work on the book edition. Editorial staff working on sections of the book edition will need to share files in a "workgroup" as sections of the book are developed. The network will allow the controlled sharing of files, and a systematic method of data security.
Thanks go to Mark Hasara, EDP Coordinator of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, who designed and set up the network with assistance from Marty Benner, Assistant Director of the Lincoln Legal Papers, who will serve as network administrator.
Lincoln Legal Papers on the World Wide Web
The project first became a presence on the World Wide Web through the Model Editions Partnership in October, 1995.. Since February 1996, however, a more comprehensive view of the project is available at http://www.fgi.net/LincolnLegalPapers. Web visitors can learn about the project (its mission, sponsors, advisory and editorial boards), the nature and significance of the project, a summary of Lincoln's legal career, the emerging reappraisal of Lincoln the lawyer, a description of the publications (The Complete Lincoln Legal Papers on CD-ROM and the book edition), up-to-date volumes of the quarterly newsletter, Lincoln Legal Briefs, and a section on how the reader can help the project achieve its objectives.
An especially encouraging aspect of on-line capability is demonstrated in the book edition presentation. Not only is the editorial note explaining and annotating the case available, but document transcriptions and documents facsimiles are also available for reference to the editorial note.
Readers who are relatively new to the project can delve into project archives through the quarterly Lincoln Legal Briefs, which are available in their entirety since 1987 on the Web. Web readers are encouraged to offer comments about our on-line presence just as we welcome comments from all readers about the contents of the Briefs.