Digital Text Archives

In its first decade (1987–1997), PHI devoted most of its attention to creating electronic databases in three areas: (1) Latin literature, (2) Ancient Greek inscriptions, (3) Founding Fathers of American democracy (Benjamin Franklin and others). At one time, more than 3000 PHI CD ROMs were licensed to scholars and institutions in over 50 countries.

Benjamin Franklin

The Papers of Benjamin Franklin is a collaborative undertaking by a team of scholars at Yale University to collect, edit, and publish the writings and papers of one of America’s most remarkable founding fathers and indeed one of the most extraordinary people this nation has ever produced.

In 1988, The Packard Humanities Institute (PHI) initiated a collaboration with The Papers of Benjamin Franklin with the goal of creating a digital version of the Franklin papers. We thought that the ability to search the complete papers would be useful to the scholarly team editing the remaining volumes. Even more exciting was the opportunity to make Franklin's complete writings freely accessible to the public.

Click here for our Benjamin Franklin website.

Latin Literature

Our website provides free access to surviving Latin literature from the beginning to about AD 200.

Click here for our Latin website.

Greek Inscriptions

In addition to literary texts (such as Homer and Plato) that have survived in manuscript copies, the ancient Greeks carved many inscriptions on stone (and occasionally other surfaces). Inscriptions range from public laws and decrees, to grave stones and even marks on pottery.

These inscriptions provide unique evidence for ancient Greece, since they are true original documents, unlike literary manuscripts which have been copied many times over the centuries and therefore often contain errors.

The scholarly discipline of epigraphy deals with reading these texts and identifying the dates and cultural contexts. Many inscriptions are in a damaged or fragmentary state, and epigraphy is a subject for highly trained specialists.

One of PHI's oldest projects is a comprehensive database of all ancient Greek inscriptions, which is extraordinarily useful to an extraordinarily small number of expert epigraphers.

In addition, our website has made Greek inscriptions much more accessible for many scholars who are not trained epigraphers.

This is one of PHI’s most important projects. It was started by David W. Packard in the 1970s, and was funded originally by the Packard Foundation before PHI existed. It represents decades of patient work by a team of trained epigraphers.

Click here for our Greek inscriptions website (if you can read ancient Greek).

Persian Literature in English

PHI has collected and transcribed many early English translations of Persian literature. Because of copyright restrictions, we have included only translations made before 1923.

The selection was guided by Professor Roy Mottahedeh at Harvard.

Click here for our Persian website.