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The transformative promise of the digital humanities is not without problems. This paper looks at digital archive curation using a database of 19th-century London concerts as a case study. We examine some of the barriers faced in its development, related to expertise, volume and complexity, the gap between cost and benefit, and the desire for an authoritative and complete dataset that forces a particular linear process of curation. We explore the potential for more radical approaches where curation and use are interleaved, and where digitally maintained provenance allows professional judgement to be applied to incomplete, crowdsourced, or automatically processed data.