Going to MLA 2014: The Stainforth Database Project Team

from the Catalogue of the library of female authors of the Rev. J. Fr. Stainforth.
from the Catalogue of the library of female authors of the Rev. J. Fr. Stainforth.

I just learned that our proposal has been accepted to present The Stainforth Database Project at MLA 2014 in the session entitled “DH from the Ground Up,” chaired by Amy Earhart (TAMU). We are ecstatic to have a venue in which to present this unique and exciting project that teaches us so much about the circulation, collection, archiving, sales, and genre categorization of women’s writing in primarily the 17th-19th centuries. I am also incredibly interested in studying the “landscape” or “theater” of Stainforth’s private library in which this collection lived — this is another facet of my research in addition to my interest in the travel writing and place description in this collection that I convey in the abstract. Here’s the final proposal that I submitted and, as is my practice, I will post the final presentation with images after our presentation at MLA in the winter. The Project Team is currently waiting to hear if we will receive a grant we applied for through CU. My fingers are crossed, as these funds would ensure more rapid progress on this project. I will post updates on the project here and also on my HASTAC blog.

Project Title:
The Stainforth Database Project: Rebuilding a 19th-century Library of Women’s Writing and Researching Women’s Travel Writing”

This workstation will invite users to explore the DH project in progress called The Stainforth Database Project (henceforth called “The Stainforth”) and to learn how it is used for graduate research and undergraduate teaching at CU-Boulder.

Collaborators and their roles, all affiliated with University of Colorado at Boulder:

  • Deborah Hollis, Associate Professor, Associate Faculty Director of Archives and Special Collections, CU Libraries; Managing Editor of The Stainforth
  • Kirstyn Leuner, PhD candidate in English Literature; Editor of The Stainforth. As an editor, Leuner TEI encodes texts in the archive and trains undergraduates in TEI so that they have the technical skills to help with the encoding process.
  • Holley Long, Associate Professor, Digital Initiatives Librarian, CU Libraries; Technical Editor of The Stainforth, architect of its relational database and all website interfaces

 Abstract (150 words):
CU-Boulder Libraries holds The Catalogue of the Library of Female Authors (1866) by F. J. Stainforth (1797-1866), a record of Stainforth’s library of 6,000 women-authored books published between 1546 and 1866—one of the largest 19th-century collections of women’s writing. The Catalog contains publication data for each title and shelfmarks that denote how Stainforth arranged his books. We are using this data to digitally reassemble the library and visualize how women’s writing was archived and circulated in the 19th-century—a project impossible to accomplish without machine processing.

For her dissertation, Leuner uses The Stainforth to learn how women’s travel writing was collected in the 1900s. Women’s travel writing was, she hypothesizes, often folded into other more traditional “feminine” genres, such as poetry, letters, and novels. Electronically reassembling this library enables Leuner to mine its holdings through computing and uncover instances of travel writing and place description within its diverse contents.

Additional Links to The Stainforth Database Project (in progress):

  • Find the unreleased Stainforth Database Project website here (this is a work-in-progress).
  • Find PDF images of the complete Stainforth Catalog manuscript here, courtesy of CU-Boulder Libraries.
  • Find the Stainforth Catalog manuscript transcription project in progress here.
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