The Roberto Busa Award winners


Willard McCarty

"The winner of the 2013 Busa Award is a man of legendary kindness and generosity. His contributions to the growth and prominence of Digital Humanities will be familiar to us all. He is a gentleman, a scholar, a philosopher, and a long time fighter for the cause. He is, by one colleague’s accounting, the “Obi-Wan Kenobi” of Digital Humanities. I must concur that “the force” is strong with this one. Please join me in congratulating Willard McCarty on his selection for the 2013 Busa Award."


Joseph Raben

The ADHO citation reads as follows:

The Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations takes great pleasure in giving the ROBERTO BUSA AWARD for 2010 to Professor Joseph Raben for his exceptional contributions to humanities computing.

Professor Raben is a pioneer; not only an early practitioner of digital methods in the study of literature but the first to turn his attention to building the profession. In 1966 he founded the first journal in the field, Computers and the Humanities, and remained its editor until 1986. He was the founding President of the international Association for Computers and the Humanities in 1978. From the beginning he had the wisdom to see that computing in all the disciplines of the humanities was a field with its own characteristics and dynamics. By organizing a long series of conferences in all parts of the United States and in several foreign countries, he brought scholars from all over the world together to share his unifying vision of our many diverse activities.

We give this award to Professor Raben for his lifetime achievement, as a humanities scholar and founder of so much of importance to our community.



Wilhelm Ott


Citation for the presentation of the Roberto Busa Award to Wilhelm Ott in June 2007 at Urbana-Champaign, Illinois, USA

In the Foreword to the volume on Book VI of the Aeneid, there appears a sentence which seems to sum up, programmatically, both the capabilities and the potential limits of digital processing:

Electronic data processing can be put into service whenever data of any kind — notably including texts — must be processed according to rules which are unambiguously formulatable and completely formalizable.

[...] The metrical tools set an emphasis which has continued to characterize all of Herr Ott's work throughout his career: computers should serve scholarly purposes, not vice versa. In his discussion of the tables and their preparation, three virtues are seen as particularly important:

  • completeness
  • reliability
  • verifiability

[...] If we are to take responsibility, as humanists, for our use of machines, then it is necessarily now a part of humanities scholarship to understand and develop ways to make machines adapt to the requirements of our work, and (while remaining open to the exploitation of new and unforeseen opportunities) to resist the temptation to adjust our practices to suit the convenience of the machine. In this sense, Wilhelm Ott's decades of work on Tustep have been not only the work of a software developer, but more profoundly the work of a gifted humanist.

It has been the great good fortune of our field to benefit from Wilhelm Ott's work as a scholar. His work has taught a great deal over the years to those wise enough to learn from it.



Susan Hockey

The Roberto Busa award was given to Susan Hockey for her contribution to the establishment of the field of Humanities Computing, and for her work on computers and text.



John Burrows


Citation for the presentation of the Roberto Busa Award to John Burrows in June 2001 at New York, USA


The Association for Computers and the Humanities and the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing grant the Roberto Busa Award for 2001 to

John F. Burrows

for exemplary contribution to scholarship in humanities computing. His imaginative application of statistics to the literature of the 17th to the 20th centuries has inspired a generation of colleagues and students. More than anyone else he has bridged the gap between literary criticism and statistics, enriching both areas and making the latter a part of mainstream literary scholarship. In doing so he has helped to put humanities computing on solid ground.


Father Roberto Busa


Citation for the first presentation of the Roberto Busa Award to Roberto Busa SJ in July 1998 at Debrecen, Hungary

In recognition of his decades of tireless and effective organizational work, exemplified in the foundation and administration of the Centro Automazione Analisi Linguistica (CAAL), the Associazone per la Computerizzazione delle Analisi Ermeneutiche e Lessicologiche (CAEL), and the Gruppo Interdisciplinare per le Richerche della Computerizzazione dei Segni dell'Espressione (GIRCSE);

in gratitude for the inspiration provided by his example and his encouragement to so many in the field, both directly and through his extensive writings on textual computing and their potential to contribute to a New Philology;

and in honor of the monumental achievement of the Index Thomisticus, the commencement of which is generally regarded as marking the beginning of the field of computing in the humanities, and the completion of which, one of the field's finest results:

the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing and the Association for Computers and the Humanities have instituted an award for the recognition of outstanding accomplishment in the application of information technology to humanistic research, and have awarded it to

Father Roberto Busa, S.J.

in whose honour the award shall henceforth be known as the Roberto Busa Award.

Given this sixth day of July one thousand nine hundred ninety eight AD, being the twenty-fifth year of the establishment of the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing, and the twentieth of the Association for Computers and the Humanities, at the Lajos Kossuth University, in Debrecen, Hungary.