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.

Happy new year!

As a new year begin we would like to look back on the year we have just left behind.

In February 2020 some of the project participants met for a project workshop at the University Library of Oslo. During the workshop we made quite ambitious plans for 2020, but sadly the covid pandemic has made it difficult to do everything we intended to, and the conferences we wanted to attend had to be postponed.

However, 2020 was not a bad year for the NorKorr project after all:

In 2021 we hope to send more CMIFs to CorrespSearch and we also hope to submit at least one paper proposal. But most of all we hope that the pandemic will end so that the project participants can meet face to face again.

Stay safe!

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