Launching Yellow Nineties 2.0


A Brief History of the Yellow Nineties Project, 2005–2024

As a dynamic structure, a website is always in process; the Yellow Nineties project developed in two stages over almost as many decades and is now poised to enter its third and final stage. While a digital project can never be a truly completed publishing event, the official launch of Yellow Nineties 2.0 in April 2024 signals that the focus has now shifted from intensive content creation to ensuring the site’s long-term preservation and ongoing accessibility.

 “The Yellow Book Project” was initiated in 2005 at the inaugural workshop of the Networked Infrastructure for Nineteenth-Century Electronic Scholarship (NINES), hosted by Jerome J. McGann at the University of Virginia. Five years later, The Yellow Nineties Online was launched as an open-access website with an encoded remediation of Volume One of the Yellow Book Digital Edition; the remaining twelve volumes required a further five years to complete. By this time, the bespoke website, hosted on a proprietary server, was no longer sustainable, and the research team was faced with the difficult decision of either abandoning the project to digital darkness or upgrading it on a new platform. In 2016, Phase One of The Yellow Nineties Online (2005-2015), co-edited by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra and Dennis Denisoff, was absorbed into the reconceptualized Yellow Nineties 2.0. The initial stage of the project published digital editions of the single-volume Pagan Review (1892) and the thirteen-volume Yellow Book (1894-1897), accompanied by an historical archive of promotional materials and reviews and an editorial apparatus of born-digital scholarly essays, all marked-up for searching. 

Directed by Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, Phase Two (2016-2024) of the project developed the reconfigured and expanded Yellow Nineties 2.0, which is hosted on Toronto Metropolitan University Library’s server and built in open-source WordPress software. In addition to a new interface design, Y90s 2.0 extends the original site’s magazine rack with an additional six digital editions of late-Victorian little magazines: The Dial (5 volumes, published occasionally between 1889-1897); The Evergreen (4 volumes, 1895-1896); The Green Sheaf (13 issues, 1903-1904); The Pageant (2 volumes, 1896-1897); The Savoy (8 issues, 1896); and The Venture (2 volumes, 1903-1905). Eight General Introductions provide an overview for each magazine, situating the title within its cultural moment and scholarly context. The 48 Critical Introductions examine each individual issue within a given title’s print run, contextualizing its diverse multi-media contents and diverse slate of contributors in relation to its production and reception.

Edited by Koenraad Claes, Y90s Biographies provide detailed information on the life and work of over 100 magazine contributors, many of whom are not well known to students of little magazines. To expand knowledge of these marginal magazines and their often-unknown makers, the research team built two data-driven digital tools, the Y90s Personography and the Database of Ornament. Edited by Alison Hedley, the Y90s Personography is a searchable biographical database of approximately 900 persons associated with Y90s magazines. Structured in Linked Open Data, the dataset is openly available for downloading and manipulation, both on the site itself and through the LINCS project (Linked Infrastructure for Networked Cultural Scholarship) directed by Susan Brown at the University of Guelph. Built in open-source Omeka software, the Database of Ornament uses Dublin Core Metadata to categorize and index approximately 200 textual ornaments—initial letters, head- and tail-pieces, and decorative borders— used in five of the eight Y90s magazines. This affordance allows users to collect, compare, and analyze a rich visual archive of the decorative devices that contributed to the late-Victorian little magazine’s effort toward becoming a Total Work of Art. 

The now completed Yellow Nineties 2.0 is the outcome of a team of collaborators that includes digital humanists, graphic designers, librarians, scholars, and students. In the last two years, the site has had about half a million unique visitors from around the world; its resources support not only interdisciplinary research and teaching, but also creative projects by interested citizens. 

Detail: Robert Burns, “The Casket,” The Evergreen, Vol. 1. 1895.