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Susan joined the Atlas Lab after getting a 1st class honours degree at Oxford in Akkadian. Bob Churchhouse had started work on Information Retrieval and Don Russell had produced COCOA for users in linguistic analysis so there was already an interest in the area. Susan made full use of both the SC4020 and the PDP15 in developing software for the display of non-Western characters.
In 1973, she joined the Oxford University Computing Services where she directed the Oxford Concordance Project and managed their OCR and typesetting facilities. pioneering The OCR service managed used the Kurzweil Data Entry Machine (KDEM). She taught courses on Text Analysis and the Computer, and SNOBOL Programming for the Humanities. She was also the First Director of the Computers in Teaching Initiative Centre for Textual Studies and also directed the Office for Humanities Communication from 1989-91. She was elected to a Fellowship by Special Election of St Cross College in 1979 and an Emeritus Fellowship of the College in 1991. While at Oxford, she published books on SNOBOL Programming for the Humanities and a Guide to Computer Applications in the Humanities.
She was Chair of the Association for Literary and Linguistic Computing from 1984-97. During that time she founded the journal Literary and Linguistic Computing with Oxford University Press and also co-edited five volumes of the series Research in Humanities Computing for Oxford. She was a member of the Executive Committee of the Text Encoding Initiative starting in 1987 and twice served as chair of that committee.
In 1991, she became the director of the Rutgers and Princeton Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities. At CETH she founded and co-directed (with Dr Willard McCarty) an annual International Summer Seminar on Methods and Tools for Electronic Texts in the Humanities. She also directed a programme of research on the use of the Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) for the Humanities including an interface to OpenText's Pat search engine, a pilot project linking the Text Encoding Initiative and the Encoded Archival Description SGML Document Type Definitions, and the Electronic Theophrastus.
Later, she joined the University of Alberta to direct the Canadian Institute for Research Computing in the Arts and serve as co-investigator on the Orlando Project, an online cultural history of women's writing in the British Isles. In 2000, she published Electronic Texts in the Humanities: Principles and Practice and joined the School of Library, Archive, and Information Studies at University College London, becoming its director the following year. When she retired from that position in 2004 to become Emeritus Professor of Library and Information Studies at UCL, the digital humanities community honored her as the third recipient of its highest award, named for Fr. Roberto Busa for her contribution to the establishment of the field of Humanities Computing, and for her work on computers and text. Her Busa Award speech, Living with Google: Perspectives on Humanities Computing and Digital Libraries was published in LLC, a field-making journal she had helped to establish in 1986.
The 55-year History of Humanities Computing by her, published in 2004, is a good overview of the area. It includes 35 years in which she herself was a highly productive and transformative figure.
An early paper is Computing in the Humanities published in the ICL Technical Journal, November, 1979