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Encoding Early Periodical Writing by Women of Color

Partially supported by a NULab Seedling Grant.

The Women Writers Project is working on an early-stage investigation of 19th-century English-language periodical writing by women of color, as part of a long-term research initiative on the representation of racial identity in early women’s writing. Under a Tier One award from Northeastern (led by co-PIs Nicole Aljoe and Julia Flanders), the WWP has convened a group of advisors to reexamine the project’s parameters for collection development and encoding practices. At the group’s first meeting, advisors noted the special importance of periodical writing as a highly visible and legible form of publication that was more accessible to authors and readers of color. This seedling project will support an initial encoding experiment focused on periodical writings by women of color, with the goal of laying the foundation for an external funding proposal that would include periodical writings as a central area of textbase expansion. 

Three initial periodical texts are the focus for this first experiment:

  • Journal of Betsey Stockton, Christian Advocate
  • “Theresa, A Haytien Tale,” Freedom’s Journal
  • “A Short account of the life of Elizabeth Colson,” New England Weekly Journal

WWP encoders have already encoded the Stockton journal and made an initial assessment of the distinctive metadata, encoding, and workflow issues relating to periodical texts. These include challenges of stitching together the separate pieces of the text from different locations and from sequential issues of the periodical, and also challenges relating to associating issue-specific metadata with individual pieces of the text. Under the seedling grant, a working group of WWP encoders will encode the other two texts, test and more fully document our encoding practices based on all three texts, and do the necessary research to identify a larger set of periodical items to include in our next external funding proposal. Four students will work in pairs to encode the texts, and each pair will proofread and correct the other pair’s encoding. Jacob Murel, our senior encoder, will provide mentorship, research additional periodical sources, and update the WWP’s documentation and practices on periodical encoding. The entire group will meet weekly as part of the WWP’s regular encoding meetings to share questions, resolve conundrums, and establish new policies. 

Principal Investigators
Julia Flanders, Faculty, English, Co-Principal Investigator; Nicole Aljoe, Faculty, English, Co-Principal Investigator; Jacob Murel, PhD Student, English, Senior Encoder

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