About

The National Library of Norway has a substantial amount of private historical correspondences in its holdings, many of which are scholarly edited and published, either in printed editions or in digital form. In addition, other Norwegian cultural heritage institutions, like the Munch Museum, but also the university libraries of the Arctic University of Norway and the University of Bergen and the Gunnerus Library at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, hold significant collections of letters and are preparing digital editions of letters and correspondences of key figures of Norwegian public and academic life. Yet, all these correspondence projects lead a solitary existence – hidden either in editions of single authors or as digitized collections or individual pieces on institutional servers.

As a dialogical genre by nature, the full potential of letters and other correspondence material lies in the connection of the individuals writing and receiving letters, postcards, and telegrams – at a specific time and from and to a specific place. But because the collections of letters and individual pieces of correspondence are historically distributed wide and far in regards to geography and institution, there rarely exist links between them. Thus research on correspondence networks that existed in Norway, the Nordic Countries – and beyond, to Europe and the rest of the world – as well as research on the letter as the main means of written communication for centuries is almost impossible.

The project Norwegian Correspondences (NorKorr, from Norwegian “Norske korrespondanser”) aims to link these individual letters and similar materials not only to each other but to correspondences in entire Norway, Europe and beyond by use of the CorrespSearch infrastructure. CorrespSearch is both an infrastructure for connecting correspondences across editions and collections and a web service that aggregates specific correspondence metadata from digital and printed scholarly editions.6 These data can be easily searched via the CorrespSearch web interface or queried via their open API. By integrating Norwegian correspondences in the corpus of letters that already exists on CorrespSearch, they will become for the first time visible as part of a greater international network of letters and allow for a macroscopic view on the correspondence networks that existed throughout the centuries.

Aims

The aim of the NorKorr project is to aggregate and provide correspondence metadata from Norwegian editions of correspondences from different projects, institutions, and collections in a format that can be ingested by CorrespSearch. The final products are a large set of metadata for Norwegian correspondences under a Creative Commons license in the CMIF (Correspondence Metadata Interchange Format) standard and an open workflow for (semi-)automatically creating and delivering CMIF-compliant correspondence metadata from future editions prepared by or hosted by the National Library of Norway (and other institutions) to the CorrespSearch web service.