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Durham University

Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies (IMEMS)

Event Archive

The Digital Publication of Eighteenth-Century English Correspondences

8th July 2020, 15:00 to 17:00

This workshop is part of a series of online events arranged in lieu of the full Durham Early Modern Conference, which will return 6-8 July 2021

Session abstract:

The first part of this panel will outline some of the opportunities and challenges in producing an edition of correspondence in a digital format rather than print. How can a digital edition most effectively locate itself alongside existing projects and databases? When physical space is not an issue, how do you make decisions about what to include and what to reject? How do you make the reading experience easiest for your readers, without compromising the faithfulness of the text? and at what point, when editing and development is potentially infinite, can you call an edition 'finished'? The second part will consist of a demonstration of some of the answers to these questions in the case of the EMCO project, by following a single letter through from finding it in an archive or library, through automatic transcription and annotation, re-writing into computer-readable XML language, merging with the EMCO database, and final publication. The third part of the panel will explain the use by both EMCO and the Hannah More Trust of the Charitable Incorporated Organisation as a vehicle for facilitating fund-raising and collaboration between people and institutions.


Joanna Barker, Durham University

Jack Orchard, Swansea University

Kerri Andrews, Liverpool Edgehill University

About the projects:

The Elizabeth Montagu Correspondence Network is in the process of preparing a complete edition of the c.9,000 surviving letters to and from Elizabeth Montagu, to be published on a fully-searchable free-access online platform showing both images and transcriptions as well as scholarly annotations and links. The majority of the letters are held by the Huntington Library in California, with others in archives in the UK and the US. The cataloguing, coding and platform design is carried out by partners at Swansea University and Oxford Brookes, with section editors based at these and other institutions around the world.

The Hannah More Trust has been established to publish a similar digital edition of the complete correspondence of Hannah More, and is also a collaboration between editors based in a number of countries and institutions. The Letters of Hannah More: A Digital Edition, is a project to publish the 1,800 surviving letters of writer and evangelist Hannah More. Involving scholars from around the UK, the project is working to gather letters scattered across more than 100 institutions around the globe to produce the first-ever complete edition of More's letters. A test website, showcasing around 100 of these letters, is available here: