The idea for the St. Louis Freedom Suits Legal Encoding Project first began to form in 2007, when the Washington University in St. Louis Libraries began a project to revise an earlier project of scanned images and HTML files of the text of the legal records from the Dred Scott case. The idea of the revision was to convert the HTML into TEI XML to make the collection fully searchable. As we planned this conversion, we looked for possibilities for markup that could better express the legal character of the documents, but failed to find anything, especially for historical legal records. We eventually came to the conclusion the best solution would be an extension to the TEI that allowed for description of the legal features of the documents, and this became the basis of the IMLS-funded project to develop these extensions to the TEI, and encode some 400 cases from the St. Louis Circuit Court with the new document model. We are happy to announce an initial draft of the extension, which can be found here: http://artsci.wustl.edu/~ptrolard/show/tei/ccr-legal-module.xml.
Our hope is that other projects working with legal documents will continue to develop the extensions to describe legal documents, and in fact we would like to get any feedback we can on this initial draft. In the future we will have more robust tools for feedback, but in the meantime we welcome anyone to comment on the original set of extensions on this blog.