Dataset with metadata of 8.527 letters published!

A few weeks ago, we archived the first large dataset of correspondence metadata on the University of Oslo institutional repository, Dataverse.no. The dataset (“eMunch dataset”) contains metadata from 8.527 letters to and from Edvard Munch in the Correspondence Metadata Interchange Format (CMIF), an XML/TEI-based standard for correspondence metadata developed by the TEI Correspondence SIG and the team at Telota at the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Letters.

The dataset has a digital object identifier (DOI), and it is licensed under CC0/Public Domain donation. You can download the dataset directly from Dataverse.no by following the link: https://doi.org/10.18710/TAFUSV. It is accompanied by a Readme file describing how the correspondence metadata was harvested, enriched, and transformed into the CMI format.

The eMunch dataset is derived from the digital scholarly edition of Edvard Munch’s Writings, eMunch.no, edited by Hilde Bøe at The Munch Museum, Oslo. Developer Loke Sjølie at the University of Oslo Library created a Python script to parse the XML files on eMunch.no and supplementary data files (Excel spreadsheet with updated dates, CSV file with GeoNames IDs for places) and extract the following metadata: sender’s name, receiver’s name, place name, date, and letter ID in the scholarly edition. These metadata were then converted into the Correspondence Metadata Interchange Format (CMIF). The entire dataset has been integrated into the international CorrespSearch search service for scholarly editions of letters hosted by the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences. It can be accessed via the CorrespSearch website.

To finish the eMunch correspondence metadata project, we will write a data paper to be published in the Journal of Open Humanities Data, which is planned for 2024.

11.000 Letters!

Yesterday, I checked the numbers while preparing a talk about the NorKorr project. We now have metadata from 8979 letters delivered to CorrespSearch, the correspondence metadata aggregator and search engine. There are another 2.409 letters in the pipeline, which we hope to deliver by the end of the year. This amounts to more than 11.000 letters – quite the achievement!

We started slowly in 2019 when my colleague Ellen Wiger added metadata from scholarly editions of correspondences from bokselskap.no, the Norwegian Society for Literature and Language’s publication outlet. We got our next “big” delivery when Ellen added two letter collections from lokalhistoriewiki.no, the wiki run by the Norwegian Institute for Local History. These were letters from Norwegian emigrants to their families back home and correspondence between Ivar Kleiven and Kristian Prestgaard.

In 2022, things sped up a bit: I applied for a small grant from the University of Oslo’s Teksthub+DH to hire a developer part-time for three months to help harvest the correspondence metadata from the Edvard Munch digital scholarly edition, eMunch.no. My colleague and head philologist at the Munch Museum, Hilde Bøe, wrote a blog post about how this project came into being and the challenges of extracting the metadata from it. We also presented the scripts our developer, Loke Sjølie, created for the task. At the end of 2022, we delivered the metadata of 8.527 letters from eMunch.no to CorrespSearch, where they were integrated into their ever-growing collection of letters. At the time of writing this post, there are 235.942 letters added to CorrespSearch that can be explored!

Right after the Edvard Munch correspondence had been harvested and the CMIF (Correspondence Metadata Interchange Format) files had been created, the Center for Ibsen Studies and the University of Oslo joined forces. They, in turn, hired Loke to harvest the correspondence metadata from the Henrik Ibsen Wiritngs Online edition, ibsen.uio.no. Both editions, eMunch.no and ibsen.uio.no, were similar enough to re-use the scripts Loke had created. The Ibsen correspondence metadata could be harvested with a simplified version of the Munch correspondence code. Enriching these with both GeoNames and VIAF (Virtual International Authority File) was necessary to fit into the CMIF data model and make them useful for CorrespSearch. There are still some minor issues around the Ibsen dataset; however, we plan to release the data CMIF-compliant by the end of the year.

There is more data from digital scholarly editions to be harvested. Several correspondences have been published on bokselskap.no, which haven’t yet been integrated into CorrespSearch. Namely, the correspondence between Sigrid Undset and Nini Roll Anker, Kitty Kielland and the family Lie, and Ebbe Hertzberg and Poul Andræ. There are also letters by Harriet Backer and Elisabeth Koren, published only recently.

Another more extensive collection of letters we intended to include right from the beginning of the project is the correspondence of Norwegian modernist painter Nikolai Astrup. KODE Bergen, the Art Museums and Composers’ Home, has recently published the catalogue of their Astrup collection, including some 400 pieces of correspondence in facsimile and transcription, including commentary and a translation into English. The archival collection with the letters can be browsed on the Nikolai Astrup website.

The next phase of NorKorr will be to gather correspondence metadata from printed editions. I have created a bibliography of 165 editions containing letters and correspondences. I will apply for another small grant to get these hand-coded into the CMIF format using the CorrespSearch CMIF Creator.

Edvard Munch in CorrespSearch

The NorKorr-eMunch project has delivered metadata of 8.527 letters to and from Edvard Munch to the CorrespSearch service. The letter metadata can be browsed on CorrespSearch.

This collection gathers most of Munch’s correspondence held in the Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway, and contains all letters (including postcards) from the digital scholarly edition of Edvard Munch’s Writings, eMunch.no.

Loke Sjølie from the University of Oslo library developed the Python script to scrape the XML-TEI encoded letters from eMunch.no. It is available in the project’s GitHub repository.

The team will soon publish a data paper about the Munch correspondence and archive the CMIF (correspondence metadata interchange format) dataset of letter metadata on the University of Oslo’s data repository, dataverse.no.

A postcard from Ingse Vibe to Edvard Munch from 25th June 1906. The picture displays a beach scene with two people walking in the shallow water and a pier with a boat house at the end. The postcard is written and drawn on.
MM K 1198, p. 2. Munchmuseet. Letter from Ingse Vibe. Dated 25. 06. 1906.
https://emunch.no/K/full/No-MM_K1198-02.jpg
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