Not to be outdone by the splashy archival projects of the New Yorker and Time, Harper’s magazine has relaunched its Web site by putting articles from its 157-year-archive online.

The archive, available free to the magazine’s subscribers, includes a quarter-million scanned pages available as PDFs from the magazine, starting with Harper’s June 1950 issue. It was launched April 1 with the help of the Cornell University Library, which allowed the magazine use of scans of the first 49 years of Harper’s. Associate editor Paul Ford spearheaded the project.

The magazine eventually plans to allow bloggers access to link to archived material, but launched with its subscribers in mind.

Like the New Yorker‘s archival DVD project, Harper’s could face criticism from its contributors — from Charlotte Brontë to Tom Wolfe — whose work has been digitized.

“In an ideal world we would have contacted all 40,000 writers living and dead,” Harper’s VP, public relations Giulia Melucci wrote in an e-mail. “In any case, we are not profiting from the individual works or any of it for that matter. This is a service to our subscribers; we are offering it to them for free. In our experience writers are delighted to have their work available on the Web.”

  • The New Harpers.org