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.

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

Harvesting metadata from the correspondence of Edvard Munch

At NorKorr we are currently building a script to harvest and consolidate metadata from the correspondence of Edvard Munch.

Edvard Munch’s correspondence comprises approximately 12 000 letters to and from Edvard Munch, where 10 000 are in the Munch Museum (around 6 000 incoming letters addressed to Munch and 4 000 letters and letter drafts by Munch) and 2 000 in other institutions or on private hands. We still discover new letters at auctions or on private hands, so the number of letters is still growing.

No-MM_N0830-00-01r.jpg
MM.N.00830, Munchmuseet. Letter to Karen Bjølstad dated 8.5.1899.

The museum has set up the website emunch.no where we aim to publish not only the correspondence, but all of Munch’s writings which include diaries, notes on art, literary sketches and fragments, prose poems, various lists and so on. We have published 80 % of Munch’s own texts and 60 % of the letters he received.

Unfortunately, today we are in a situation where we have conflicting sources for the metadata. The website is built on XML and XSLT technologies, and all register files containing metadata were originally created through export-to-XML from the project’s databases. When the museum’s databases were consolidated into a single database and migrated to a new software, we lost the export-to-XML functionality. Since then, there have been two sets of metadata for Munch’s writings, where both have been updated. The intention was, of course, that the two sets were to be identical, but as often happens we have forgotten to update one or the other. Today, the two sets have many differences, and it is not given which source has the correct data. A third source is a spreadsheet we use in our ongoing work of updating and revising the dating of Munch’s letters and letter drafts. We work in a spreadsheet because it is more time-efficient than using our database and because the database cannot easily handle the order of the dated letters.

The data from the spreadsheet will eventually be incorporated into the database, and the differences between the XML register files and the database will also be consolidated. We are also working on a solution where we once again can publish directly from the database to the website. For the current process of creating a CMIF XML file we need a script which does the consolidation for us. The script is being developed by research assistant Loke Sjølie and can be found at GitHub (https://github.com/Loke-git/MXML).

As a result of the script development process, we have discovered duplicated letter entries, and errors and invalid date formats. We revise and correct our metadata, but we also need to look at how we deal with non-existing dates, e.g. November 31st or February 29th in non-leap years.

No-MM_K0242-01.jpg
MM.K.00242, Munchmuseet. Letter from Gunnar Heiberg dated 29.02.1895.

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