Tuesday, September 08, 2015

New Material at the DCB

Recently added (or at least recently noted) at the Dictionaryof Canadian Biography

One: there is now a "Acadians" category, a substantial (anonymous) creation introducing and contextualizing all the Acadian-relevant biographies that were already available.

Two: the "Introductory Essays" that the DBC published in its original hardcover editions from 1966 to 1985, are now provided online as well.  The DBC, in moving to online publication, had originally decided that these essays were "outdated." It now acknowledges the arguments of professors who have insisted on the continuing value of the essays, and now they are available in online form from the website.  This is useful.  I rarely write much about the Seven Years War without going back to the Eccles and Stacey essays on, respectively, the French and British forces.

The DCB, however, continues its policy of ah, cultural sensitivity.
While attempting to produce versions that are close to the originals, the editors have nevertheless made necessary changes: correcting misprints, spelling mistakes, some sentences that were difficult to understand, and a few factual errors. They have also modified the names of certain individuals and added or removed asterisks to conform with the content of the DCB/DBC. Additionally, unless they are part of a quotation or title, offensive terms have been replaced by terms that are currently more appropriate out of respect for those men and women to whom the terms referred.
In addition, the original works are placed within an (unsigned) editorial context. The original authors whose works are reprinted and reworked, are acknowledged, but barely.

I used to think of disposing of my set of hardcover DCBs.  Now, much as I admire and rely on the online product, I think I will hang on to the originals. I can see the reasons for the ongoing rewriting of the DBC. But I also want to know what the scholars who actually wrote the essays and biographies actually said and signed.  

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