Crafting digital tools that meet real scholarly needs requires active dialogue between engineers, designers, and the community of researchers whose work depends on the development of those tools. We have therefore affiliated to Early Modern Letters Online two Pilot Projects focusing on the correspondence networks of two of the most compelling seventeenth-century figures from our first phase: the intelligencer Samuel Hartlib (1600-62), and the educational theorist Jan Amos Comenius (1592-1670).
Continued focus on these two overlapping correspondences will supply EMLO with questions, problems, challenges, and data whilst vetting and refining its technical solutions. They will ensure that it continues to evolve in response to clear research questions arising from specific, well-documented epistolary contexts. Moreover, since they are both unusually wide-ranging (prosopographically, geographically, and chronologically), they represent an ideal test bed for developing and assessing the digital toolsets necessary for mastering the Republic of Letters in all of its personal, spatial, and temporal messiness.