Roshan Initiative in Persian Digital Humanities at the University of Maryland
Fig. 1. Courtesy of Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.

The Roshan Institute for Persian Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park has embarked on an ambitious Persian digital humanities initiative, called the Roshan Initiative in Persian Digital Humanities at the University of Maryland (PersDig@UMD). The initiative is a collaborative effort involving the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), UMD’s library services, and Maryland Language Science Center (MLSC). They currently are developing six projects: DocuNow Persian Archive, Persian Digital Manuscript Archive, Persian E-Book Database, Roshan Institute Open-Access E-Books, the Persian Digital Library, and the Lalehzar Street Digital Archive.

DocuNow Persian Archive:

The DocuNow Persian Archive is an “archive of the now” that aims to collect and curate data related to important social, cultural, and political events involving Iran. Working with team members from MITH, MLSC, and the UMD libraries, the DocuNow project will safeguard the (digital) historical sources of the future through harvesting and archiving relevant web and social media sources in real time.

Persian Digital Library:

The Persian Digital Library (PDL) will be collaborative venture of the Roshan Institute for Persian Studies and the Perseus Digital Library. It will be a a revolutionary new educational and research resource that will provide digital access to the most important works of Persian poetry and prose from the past millennium to both scholars and interested laypeople. The digitization and proper encoding of this enormous corpus of premodern and modern Persian texts will allow for unprecedented types data mining, stylometric, and other forms of computational textual analysis to be conducted on Persian literature. All texts will be encoded according to the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI XML) standard and will be CTS/CITE compatible. The creator of the Persian poetry database Ganjoor has kindly allowed us to use their massive collection of Persian texts as the basis for the PDL, enabling us to get to work immediately second-order textual enhancements and software/tool development.

Persian Digital Manuscript Archive: Manuscript Digitalization, Education, & Optimization:

Roshan Institute for Persian Studies will digitalize high priority Persian lithographs and manuscripts in order to make them available to the broader online community and digitally preserve materials that may be at a risk of loss. This project will also include the development of important new software and data management tools to facilitate the collection, search, discovery, and curation of Perso-Arabic script lithograph and manuscript materials.

Persian E-Book Database:

The Persian E-Book Database will be the first online database of professional quality Persian language e-books. It addresses the pressing need in the United States for ready access to high quality Persian-language academic resources and it will collect these works into the largest (full-text) searchable Persian-language academic database in the world.

Roshan Institute Open Access E-Books:

The Roshan Institute Open Access E-books initiative will produce Open-Access Persian e-books. This project will both address the current crisis in Persian academic publishing and provide a high-quality, peer-reviewed publishing option for Persian-language monographs.

Lalehzar Street Digital Archive:

The Lalehzar Street Digital Archive is a multimedia archive focused on the performance sphere of Tehran’s Lalehzar district in the twentieth century. Lalehzar Street—which was frequently compared to New York’s Broadway and Paris’s Champs-Élysées and Quartier Latin district—was the epitome of Tehran’s cosmopolitan entertainment industry, featuring several active amphitheatres, printing houses and cinemas, as well as hotels, restaurants and cafés. The Lalehzar Street Archive digital archive collects and curates the full range of data pertaining to this exciting scene of Iranian cultural production, including visual sources (e.g. photographs of performance, venues, and performers); footage from performances and excerpts from cinematic productions involving Lalehzar and its performers; textual sources, such as advertisements and brochures, theatrical scripts, reviews published in periodicals; interviews; and information on its venues and the people involved with the Lalehzar performance sphere.