In this essay, the authors use an archival collection housed at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Library Special Research Collections to examine how the concept of “the book” changes in light of historical archival practices and present‐day techniques of digitization and computational literary analysis. The Ballitore Collection consists of roughly 2,500 letters, journals, and notes related to the eighteenth‐ and nineteenth‐century Irish Quaker community of Ballitore, Ireland. Researchers on the Ballitore Project have applied the computational methods of network analysis and topic modeling to the collection while considering how its history of collection and curation affect our interpretation of the materials. Just as the documents in the Ballitore Collection have been created, collected, edited, disassembled, reassembled, and curated by networks of writers, readers, and librarians over time, so the Ballitore Project has been run by a diverse, collaborative, nonhierarchical research team dedicated to showing how our contemporary concepts of digitization and media transformation can elucidate the nonlinear relationship between print and manuscript in earlier periods.

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