“Making Data for Now with the Stainforth Library of Women’s Writing,” Invited Guest Lecture 4-7-15, 9-10:30am, Baker-Berry Library (Dartmouth College)

[I was invited to deliver the inaugural talk in a series hosted for Baker-Berry Library at Dartmouth College. Many thanks to Laura Braunstein for organizing the event and to those who attended. And special thanks to my collaborators at CU Libraries, Deborah Hollis and Holley Long, for their continued support and teamwork.]

Textual digitization projects of a large scale can take a long time. As you know, they take an even longer time when the text cannot be scanned and OCR’d and manuscript transcription is required. Today I want to take advantage of this middle stage of a long-term textual digitization project I manage, called the Stainforth Library of Women’s Writing, to swap expertise with you. This digital library is under construction right now, and it’s the perfect time to pause, appreciate our data and editorial carnage, share our process and the hunches I’m operating on, and ask different audiences what you think of it and how we can make it better. My plan for our time today is to introduce my project and tell you a little bit about the history of how it got off the ground. And then I’m going to give you a chance to pretend my project is yours. We’ll compare your approaches to editing and delivering our data with what we have done or hope to do.

Throughout, while we talk about options for processes and the choices I’ve made, I am hoping that we can think together about the future of textual digitization projects from a pragmatic point of view that takes small budgets, time constraints, growing numbers of untenured faculty, and the job market into account. That is: you know and I know, from experience, the amount of labor and critical thinking that go into producing digital editions of a text or a collection of texts, such as Dartmouth’s John McCoy Family papers and the Occom Circle Project. I think that it is important to imagine the upper limits of what a digital archive can do for researchers, such as provide 3D representations of digital objects. But I also want to offer an idea for how scholars like myself, without a sizable markup team, can generate a corpus of edited data and deliver it for research and teaching in a timely manner.

I will argue today that producing and releasing one’s data first, and the more marked-up data set in a linked digital archive second, is a much needed new model of data curation that may be of particular interest to untenured digital humanists, of which I am one. This two-phase release model responds to the constrained institutional ecosystem in which many digital humanists are working with limited budgets, time, and help, and while satisfying requirements for hiring, tenure, and promotion that rest on peer-reviewed essays and books. This model, which I’ll be calling the “cookie-dough” model just for this talk, helps us make more useful digital objects with the same amount of data. It also helps create tangible traditional scholarly products from our digital curation work sooner, before we finish creating an interface, which can take a very long time. So: first, a project introduction, second, we’ll talk about processes together in a workshop, and then I’ll conclude. Continue reading

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Recipient of $47,230.00 Innovative Seed Grant

Team Stainforth (The Stainforth Library of Women’s Writing) has some extremely good news: we are the recipients of a $47,230.00 innovative seed grant from the University of Colorado Boulder for the year 2015-2016. The grant will fund

  • technology and research assistance for completing library catalog data entry and remaining transcription
  • designing the web interface and linking our data to it
  • initiatives to teach with the Stainforth project data in a variety of disciplines, including special collections, literature, women’s studies, and bibliography
  • produce and publish a study of the methods and results of digital pedagogy with the Stainforth digital library

We want to thank CU’s Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research as well as the ISG award committee judges. Special thanks to Holley Long and Deborah Hollis for being such intrepid and tenacious collaborators and co-authors. Thanks also to Michelle Warren for her feedback on my project narrative drafts. We applied for this award two years ago and did not win but received great suggestions for revision. I’m glad we were able to try again and succeed.

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Video trailer: My new Spring ’15 English course “Women’s Literature and Technologies”

Presenting the video trailer: New Spring 15 English course “Women’s Literature and Technologies”*:  http://bit.ly/1Hv9c36
Women Literature and Technology on Vimeo
This video is about Women Lit and Tech
Spring 15 English Course 53.06, taught by English/Neukom postdoc Dr. Kirstyn Leuner

“Women’s Literature and Technologies” (ENGL 53.06) MWF at 2 Hour.
Dist: LIT; WCult: W. Course Group III

  • Read works (like Frankenstein) on the themes of identity, authorship, and technologies alongside breaking news coverage of current events relating to gender, digital technologies, programming, Silicon Valley, copyright, authorship, and more.
  • Explore hypertext fiction and electronic literature (works designed to be “read” on a computer)
  • Handle/study very old and rare books in Rauner Special Collections
  • Make 19th-century letterpress prints in the Book Arts Workshop
  • Encode and publish digital poetry and prose in multiple platforms
  • Play with my postdoctoral project that builds a digital model of an actual 19th-century library
  • Design/execute a final project all your own
  • Feel free to email me with questions: Kirstyn.J.Leuner@dartmouth.edu

Special thanks to Dartmouth Instructional Designer Michael Goudzwaard for editing and producing the trailer. #boom

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Spring 2015 Course: “Women’s Literature and Technologies”

See full syllabus (draft): “Women’s Literature and Technologies of Transmission from the Long 19th century to the Present

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The Stainforth Digital Library Under Construction, for the Arts & Humanities Resource Center “Gear Up” 2015 (Dartmouth 1-22-15) | The Stainforth Library of Women Writers

A recent post I published on the Stainforth project blog regarding my presentation at Dartmouth’s “Gear Up” event last week. I presented vast quantities of raw transcription — dirty data — as well as some of our processes, tools, and goals.

The Stainforth Digital Library Under Construction, for the Arts & Humanities Resource Center “Gear Up” 2015 (Dartmouth 1-22-15) | The Stainforth Library of Women Writers.

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Francis John Stainforth: A Biographical Sketch

[first published on CU-Boulder University Libraries Special Collections website and the Stainforth project blog]


Knowledge of Francis John Stainforth’s life enables a more thorough understanding of the important private library of women’s writing that he collected. A larger project is underway in which we strive to answer more questions about Stainforth’s collections, personal life, and education, for instance, what he studied at Cambridge, how his sermons and studies relate to his various collections, when he started the book collection, how and why he began that enterprise, who his principle sources were for obtaining volumes, and why he preferred poetry and plays over novels. We will augment and revise this sketch of Stainforth’s life as we learn more. If you have research to contribute or feedback please email it to both Kirstyn.j.leuner@dartmouth.edu and Spc@colorado.edu. Thank you.



Francis John Stainforth (1797-1866) was a British Anglican clergyman who also left his mark as a consummate collector of books, stamps, and shells. He owned what was perhaps the largest private library of books by women writers in the nineteenth century, and he was an early and influential philatelist who helped establish the Royal Philatelic Society London. Continue reading

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Stainforth Project Update, December 2014

Team Stainforth has had an extremely productive summer and fall, as we began to work collaboratively across two institutions: CU-Boulder and Dartmouth College, where I’m managing the project for my Neukom Institute postdoctoral fellowship. Follow our project blog for more frequent updates.

  • We added two important mentors to our team, both at Dartmouth College: Professor Ivy Schweitzer, English Dept. and Women and Gender Studies, and Professor Mary Flanagan, Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities and Professor of Film and Media Studies. I also want to thank Professor Dan Rockmore, Director of the Institute, and the Neukom staff who have made my transition to working here an absolute joy.
  • I published a biographical sketch of Stainforth on the CU-Boulder University Libraries Special Collections website as well as the project blog. This essay is the first part of a longer biographical research project devoted to Stainforth.
  • I delivered two talks at Dartmouth college on the project, the first at “The Digital Crucible: Arts & Humanities & Computation” conference, hosted by the Leslie Center and the Neukom Institute (Dartmouth College). Find a video of the Digital Crucible conference’s 19th-century panel here; my talk starts at 19:00. The second talk introduced the Stainforth Library of Women Writers project at the Fall Term Neukom Institute dinner reception.
  • Catalog data: our research and transcription team completed raw transcription for the entire acquisitions section of Stainforth’s catalog manuscript. That is 509 pages of bibliographical entries, and each page contains 24 lines. This massive effort required several months of careful editorial work by a team of transcribers including myself, Kyle Bickoff, Michael Harris, Erin Kingsley, Elizabeth Newsom, and Deven Parker. Our next step is to edit this data for a selective release scheduled for Spring 2015. This release will help us begin to visualize the titles as they appeared on Stainforth’s bookshelves.
  • We created a youtube video that demonstrates how _The Catalog of the Library of Female Authors of the Rev. J. Fr. Stainforth_ (1866) works. There are two catalogs within one binding: the library holdings and the “wish list” of books the collector wanted to acquire. Special thanks to Stainforth Project Team members (at CU-Boulder) Michael Harris, Sean Babbs, and Katelyn Cook.
  • We have also begun the process of locating Stainforth’s actual books as they have been dispersed in various libraries and institutions across the US and Britain. We locate them by searching for Stainforth bookplates listed in provenance metadata. Here is our up-to-date list, which includes 23 editions as of 12/3/14. If you would like to help us with this book hunt, simply do a general search for “Stainforth” in your home library catalog and comb the catalog results for Stainforth bookplates (in provenance or notes metadata). Please email me if you find one or think you may have found one: kirstyn.j.leuner@dartmouth.edu. Thank you!

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