Student Spotlight: Alex Seo & TXTDS Minor Capstone

This guest post is written by Linguistics and TXTDS student Alex Seo, who recently completed the Textual Studies and Digital Humanities (TXTDS) minor Capstone project. Images courtesy of Assistant Book Arts Librarian Kat Lewis.


I am a Linguistics major with a minor in Textual Studies and Digital Humanities, and a minor in Data Science. I have been part of the UW Textual Studies program since Winter 2022, when I took the Text, Publics, and Publication course and started volunteering at UW Special Collections. Since then, I have had the opportunity to explore a wide range of related subjects such as digital publishing, book arts, and archival studies. It was a valuable experience learning how to analyze, organize, transform, and curate materials. I’m very thankful that I discovered this field – I didn’t know that it existed, let alone what it entailed, but I gained a lot from it and ended up enjoying it so much.

Examples from the 19th century publishers bindings collection


My capstone, in short, was putting together a database, but the foundation for it was built upon the volunteer work that I mentioned above. The first task that I took on was surveying and cataloging a digital repository that contained a variety of items. With the help of my supervisor, I was able to familiarize myself with the process of constructing a directory, including how to effectively organize data and to create metadata.

Based on what I had learned, I was able to start a functional database for my capstone. The Rare Books and Book Arts Collections had acquired a sizable digital archive containing scans of 19th century publishers’ bindings. However, the archive hadn’t been accessible, and it had been difficult to find items within it. The database aims to solve such problems.

I was accustomed to the framework and the descriptive writing that were to be featured in the capstone project. Yet, there was a new challenge of prioritizing user experience. I placed heavier focus on the effectiveness of targeting and retrieval, which required more consistent and strictly formatted metadata. I also wrote notes that would help with using the database, discussing the information that can be found in the database.

The database is currently stored in a physical hard drive. On the sidebar of UW Special Collections Rare Books and Book Arts Collection – 19th Century American Literature webpage, there is a section that acknowledges the database, so that people may visit and consult it. Although it currently only covers a portion of the archive, it offers a searchable guide through the stacks of publishers’ bindings that belong to UW Special Collections.


I feel very fortunate to have contributed to the digital representation of UW Special Collections. It’s exciting to think that my work could improve the accessibility of the collection, and potentially assist various projects. I would like to thank the UW Textual Studies faculty and UW library staff that have not only given me the opportunity but also provided generous guidance throughout my capstone.

Announcements Research Students

Annual UW Undergraduate Research Symposium

Submissions are now being accepted for the Annual UW Undergraduate Research Symposium, which will take place on Friday, May 19, 2023

To present your work at this event, you must submit an application by Friday, February 12, 2023. The application and information about the Symposium may be found on the Undergraduate Research Program’s Symposium Page. The Symposium is a celebration of undergraduate accomplishments in research, scholarship, and creative expression in all academic disciplines, including the performing and visual arts. More information and resources for applicants and presenters, including support for preparing abstracts, are available on the Apply for Symposium Page. Students may email URP at with questions about presenting their work.

If you have not yet begun a research experience, attending the Symposium is a great way to learn about how to get involved, identify potential projects and mentors and to support fellow students. Students are also encouraged to volunteer for the Undergraduate Research Symposium and may sign up to volunteer here.

We hope you will consider participating in this year’s celebration of undergraduate research!

Courses Students

Student Spotlight: Piper Thomas & TXTDS Minor Capstone

This guest post is written by Linguistics, French, and TXTDS student Piper Thomas, who recently completed the Textual Studies and Digital Humanities (TXTDS) minor Capstone project. This story has also been posted to the French & Italian Studies website. Photos by Assistant Book Arts Librarian Kat Lewis.

About Me

I am majoring in Linguistics, and minoring in French Language, Literature, and Culture as well as Textual Studies and Digital Humanities. I have always been interested in how people choose to present and preserve information, and seeing evidence of people in the past simply being people never fails to make me smile. When presented with the opportunity to explore the vast collection of handmade records of individual experiences housed in the Special Collections, I knew I had to take it. I adore seeing how the technology of writing has developed throughout human history, and how people during every era used the existing technology in creative ways.

Piper Thomas working at computer in Special Collections

Capstone Project

For my capstone project in Textual Studies, I began with an annotated bibliography. It served to give me some background for who William Morris was and what he did – since that was to be the focus of my project. In addition, it was very helpful to me as an undergraduate student, because it was a chance to learn how to do research. It was very nice to go through the process of research while having a guiding hand there to provide feedback, and without the pressure of having to get it right on the first try.

After doing the annotated bibliography, we decided that it would be good for me to create an online exhibit about some of the things I had noticed. Unlike the annotated bibliography, the subject of the exhibit was largely left to my discretion so long as it was at least somewhat related to William Morris. I felt that it would be cool to compare some Morris books to books by modern book artists. After doing some further exploration, I decided to compare the usage of white space in three different books, one of which was by Morris.

It was honestly a wonderful experience. I was given freedom to follow whatever route piqued my interest, with a huge amount of resources available to me, and great support available when I ran into hurdles. I learned a lot about how to navigate the library and interact with delicate books, how to find resources for research, and how to create an online paper.

Online Exhibit: Whitespace in Illustrations and Book Arts

Piper Thomas working at computer in Special Collections

Are you a Textual Studies student and have a project you’d like to share? We would love to highlight your work! Email us at

Interested in the minor? See our page for more information.


Dawg Daze with the Textual Studies Program

We are pleased to announce that the Textual Studies Program will be hosting an event with the UW Libraries Special Collections to promote the new minor in Textual Studies and Digital Humanities for Dawg Daze, new students’ week-long introduction to all things University of Washington!

Old Books, New Technologies: UW Special Collections and the new minor in Textual Studies and Digital Humanities
10-11:30 am Tuesday, September 27, 2022
Allen Library South, Basement
Maps/Special Collections Classroom (B069)

Are you interested in the history and future of books, texts, reading and information, from the scrolls of antiquity to medieval manuscripts and handprinted books to today’s e-books and massive book databases like Google Books? Are you thinking about a career in libraries, archives, publishing and editing, and in fields devoted to preserving and making accessible cultural materials? Come discover UW Libraries Special Collections and its extraordinary resources: medieval manuscripts; 15th-century books; an iron handpress, to name only a few items. And learn about the new minor in Textual Studies and Digital Humanities. Meet faculty, students and librarians who will talk about their experiences in the TS & DH minor. Courses in the minor emphasize hands-on, project-oriented work with historical materials, archival sources and artists’ books; and with techniques, skills, and tools for developing and publishing digital editions and exhibits, and for building, analyzing, and understanding text-oriented databases.

More on the Textual Studies Program: