Last Updated: 2024, February 29

Scholarly Societies Project


Origins of the Scholarly Societies Project
1993, October The notion of creating a set of links to gophers of scholarly societies was discussed by the Internet Resources Committee (IRC) of the University of Waterloo Library. It was pointed out that, in addition to the usefulness of such a resource to the UW campus, it would represent a resource that the IRC could give to the Internet in exchange for the valuable resources to which the UW Library gopher made links. The IRC approved the project.

Later that month a collection of about a half-dozen resources had been assembled.

1994, February 18 By February 18 1994, after several months of performing Veronica searches, and monitoring announcements of new gophers, the number of gophers was increased to 16. At this point, the collection was considered rich enough to be announced to the public. Announcements were sent out over various listservs and newsgroups. Some readers of this announcement evidently cross-posted it to other listservs or newsgroups, so that the total audience was even wider than originally expected. As a result, Project staff were notified of several new resources.
1994, March 9 The Chronicle of Higher Education article on the Project (p.A27) appeared. At the time, there were 20 gophers.
1994, May 19 Prototype for WWW phase of the Project was developed. At the time, there were: 10 webpages and 42 gophers.
1994, Summer By the summer of 1994, a WWW version of the Scholarly Societies Project was being created. After the first few months of the summer of 1994, the ratio of gophers to webpages in the Project was about 2:1, and remained so for a couple of months. But by November 1994, the ratio began to approach 1:1; the number of new webpages was continuing at a steady rate, but the number of new gophers had slowed considerably.
1994, November 25 The WWW version was announced to the public over several listservs and newsgroups. At the time, the Project had links to:
  • 70+ webpages
  • 100+ gophers
  • 29 subject guides
  • serial publications in full-text form

Soon after, Project staff were occupied in a flurry of correspondence with readers of the announcement. As a result, a number of new and interesting resources (virtually all webpages) were added.

1994, December 17 There were 91 webpages.
1995, January 5 100 webpages & 111 gophers
1995, January (early) The Editor created a chronological listing for many, but not all, societies with webpages in the Project.
1995, February 1 115 webpages
1995, February 24 Another Chronicle of Higher Education article on the Project (p.A27) At the time, there were 123 webpages & 110 gophers.
1995, March 1 The number of gophers was frozen at 117.
1995, March 2 134 webpages & 117 gophers.
1995 -1996 The Project went through a period of rapid growth, passing from 115 websites at the end of January, 1995 to 968 websites at the end of October, 1996 (less than 2 years later).
1996, November 20 Late on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 20, 1996, a milestone in the Scholarly Societies Project was passed when the Editor added the 1000th society to the Scholarly Societies Project.
1999 (Summer) The Editor began to create a sub-project entitled the Repertorium Veterrimarum Societatum Litterariarum (Inventory of the Oldest Scholarly Societies), to contain society information likely to be of special interest to historians. This sub-project was restricted to societies founded up to and including the year 1799.
2000, Spring The Project acquired its own domain name,
2000, December 22 The Editor added the 2000th society website to the Project.
2001, Summer The Editor learned how to use the Unicode Standard to encode society names that require either the use of diacritics, or non-Latin scripts, if they are to be properly displayed. By the end of Summer, over 130 society names had been thus encoded in non-Latin scripts.
2002, September 13 The Editor added the 3000th society website to the Project.
2004, July 2 The Editor added the 4000th society to the Project.
2007, March At the age of 63, the Editor retired as a professional librarian at the University of Waterloo Library, where he had worked his entire career - from 1970 to 2007. With the kind permission of the Library he was permitted to continue to develop and maintain the Scholarly Societies Project.
2011 March The Editor had become completely overwhelmed by the amount of time and energy required to fix broken URLS for the more than 4000 societies listed in the Project. He made the difficult decision to abandon work on this undertaking, which had already taken 18 years of his life, and had cost well in excess of 10,000 hours of work. Saying goodbye to this Project was devastating - especially to his beloved historical area - the Repertorium Veterrimarum Societatum Litterariarum (Inventory of the Oldest Scholarly Societies).
2024, January 1 But, in January 2024, that goodbye changed to a fare thee well when the Editor devised an ingenious plan to revive and continue the most valuable part of the Project - the Repertorium Veterrimarum Societatum Litterariarum. The solution to preventing Edition Two of the Project from collapsing a second time was to narrow its scope, whilst increasing the historical detail included. And that is where matters stand at the moment, this 29th day of February, 2024.


Published 2024, February 29
Jim Parrott, Editor
Scholarly Societies Project
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