I found a beautiful digital collection of images and documents all about Evangeline and the Acadian people and their tragic expulsion from the east coast  in 1755.

This particular digital archive was created in 2004 to mark the 400thanniversary of the Acadian Settlement in North America.

The website is called ‘The Evangeline Collection –  Commmemorating 400 years of Acadian Settlement’, and is published on the Nova Scotian Legislative Library website.

The URL is http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/library/digitalcollection/background.stm

The digital collection is focused on images and texts about Evangeline, a character in a poem by Henry W. Longfellow, who symbolizes the pain of the Acadian people when their homes were burnt down and their people divided among the colonies by the British.

Evangeline is a young Acadian women who is separated from her beloved during the expulsion.  Her search for ends tragically when she finds him on his deathbed. The poem is well known to most Canadians, who in my day, studied it in Grade Nine as part of their history curriculum.

The digital collection on the website, provided by the Nova Scotia Legislative Archives, is only a small portion of the texts and images collected by the Nova Scotia Legislative Library Collection.

The introductory page of the website has a selection of beautiful images of Evangeline that are on a constant scroll.

Scanned digital images  show original texts, such as this bound copy of the poem,  Evangeline, written by Henry W. Longfellow in 1853:

The original printing has been scanned on the pages with illustrations.

But on some pages it is just the text.

Some original letters have been included in the collection, such as the account, by Henry Longfellow, of how he came to write the poem about Evangeline.

This is the original:

A text copy is also offered, which is easier to read!

I enjoyed looking through this digital collection but found that some links were unstable.  The area designated as an ‘Image Collection” came up as ‘invalid response from upstream source’, and the Collage of Images was also not available unless I updated my Java-Plugin, which I have not done yet.

A list of books in the collection was offered in the old fashioned way, a bibliographic list of titles, authors and call numbers. If a researcher wanted to see more of the collection she would have to travel to the physical collection, but the digital collection is a good introduction and beautifully displayed.

Digital Libraries make texts and images more accessible to the general public. Even twenty years ago the images that have been collected in this digital archive would have only been accessible to scholars seraching through microfilms and the Rare Book sections of their univeristy libraries.

This archival collection allows easy access to a fascinating part of Canadian history. Interesting documents and beautifully scanned letters and engravings are available at our finger tips.