You can listen to the second episode of Season 2 of The WPHP Monthly Mercury, "Collected, Catalogued, Counted," on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, Google Podcasts, and other podcast apps, available via Buzzsprout.
In 2016, Dr. Kirstyn Leuner shared data from her project, The Stainforth Library of Women’s Writing, with the WPHP — in particular, the Virtual International Authority Files she and her team had attached to their person records. She is, in fact, the reason the WPHP attaches VIAF records to our person records: they allow us to untangle and create data space for both well-recovered women writers and those women whose recovery is often piece-meal, and particularly supported by their inclusion in digital projects like The Stainforth Library of Women’s Writing and the Women’s Print History Project.
In Episode 2 of the second season of The WPHP Monthly Mercury, “Collected, Catalogued, Counted,” Dr. Kirstyn Leuner joins us to chat all things Stainforth, databases, and cataloguing, including the kinds of data her team has been working with and collecting, the project decisions that have had to be made along the way, the hidden and not-so-hidden gems the Stainforth catalogue contains, and the many commonalities our projects share in their efforts to recover women writers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In Leuner’s words,
The Stainforth Library of Women's Writing is an online bibliographical resource designed to encourage researchers, students, and bibliophiles to explore thousands of lesser-known women writers and editions published between the 16th and 19th centuries. General editors of the project are Leuner, Deborah Hollis (CU-Boulder), and Kate Ozment (Cal Poly Pomona). The heart of the Stainforth project is a searchable, TEI-encoded digital edition of Francis Stainforth’s 746-page manuscript library catalog in which he lists the contents of his enormous private library. Francis Stainforth (1797-1866) was an Anglican curate of London-area parishes, and his book collection is the largest known private library of Anglophone women’s writing collected in the nineteenth century containing 7,122 editions (~8,000 volumes) and approximately 2,800 writers. While we have not yet found a documented narrative in which Stainforth explains his rationale for collecting the library, we have substantial evidence of his principles as a serious collector and cataloger of women’s writing, his respect for authors of diverse religious, cultural, and social backgrounds, and his project to make their identities known.
Many of these authors and texts are rarely studied because they are difficult to research and they fall outside of traditional expectations for women’s writing in the long 18th and 19th centuries. There is very little prose fiction in the library, the genre most often associated with women writers of these periods. Instead, Stainforth focused on collecting poetry, drama, publications in periodicals, spiritual writing, children's literature, non-fiction prose, literary annuals, and more. Stainforth's library includes women writers, collaborators/coauthors, editors, translators, composers, and book makers of various kinds, and his collection includes a large number of marginalized women authors including poor and working-class women, those writing about their disabilities, Quakers, Jews, women of color, children, survivors of assault, women who survived incarceration, and queer writers. The digitized catalog and its related projects, such as person records, the book hunt, blog, and teaching page, demonstrate not only how many women who published have gone unnoticed, but also how narrow the frame is that scholars have historically applied to the panorama of women’s writing and how much wider we can spread our curiosities and studies in the field. This project is an ongoing collaboration and a team editorial effort.
Join us for a behind-the-scenes look at The Stainforth Library of Women’s Writing and more than a few exclamations about Stainforth (collector of stamps, shells, and women’s writing), the two Alicia Lefanus (an aunt and niece), and the joys and challenges of working on digital projects about women’s book history in this month’s episode.
Dr. Kirstyn Leuner is assistant professor of English at Santa Clara University with focuses in digital humanities and women's book histories of the long eighteenth century. She is director and editor-in-chief of The Stainforth Library of Women's Writing (http://stainforth.scu.edu) and is excited about forthcoming articles in Studies in English Literature 1500-1900 and Huntington Library Quarterly, both of which relate to the Stainforth project. Tweet her @KLeuner and ask about Stainforth, library catalogs, letterpress printing, teaching, or favorite trails and climbing areas. If you find a book with a Stainforth bookplate, submit this form. Stainforth on!
Produced by: Kate Moffatt, Kandice Sharren, and Michelle Levy
Music: “Sweetest Bard”, from Ignatius Sancho’s Minuets, Cotillons & Country Dances for the Violin, Mandolin, German Flute, & Harpsichord Composed by an African (1767), from https://brycchancarey.com/sancho/music.htm. Played by Kandice Sharren.
Related WPHP Entries:
Aphra Behn (Person)
Hannah More (Person)
Elizabeth Inchbald (Person)
Susanna Centlivre (Person)
Letitia Elizabeth Landon (Person)
Sacred Dramas (First edition) (Title)
Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap-book (Title)
Charlotte Smith (Person)
Charlotte Turner Smith (Person)
Related Stainforth Entries:
Barnes, Esther. "The Disengaged Fair" (1796). https://stainforth.scu.edu/catalog/title/?id=339. Person record https://stainforth.scu.edu/catalog/person/?id=4200
Thomas Bentley's Monument of Matrones (1582) is listed in the acquisitions section under Lamps of Virginitie https://stainforth.scu.edu/catalog/title/?id=3590, and in the Wants list here https://stainforth.scu.edu/catalog-transcription/?pg=516. The strikethrough indicates that he acquired it.
Butler, Fanny Kemble. Francis The First. https://stainforth.scu.edu/catalog-transcription/?pg=65. Person record https://stainforth.scu.edu/catalog/person/?id=4181
Fisher's Drawing Room Scrap Book 1832-1849 https://stainforth.scu.edu/catalog-transcription/?pg=161
Lefanu, Alicia (niece) Rosara's Chain (1812) https://stainforth.scu.edu/catalog/title?&id=3690; Person record https://stainforth.scu.edu/catalog/person/?id=4415
Lefanu, Mrs. (aunt) Sons of Erin (1812) https://stainforth.scu.edu/catalog/title?&id=3693; Person record https://stainforth.scu.edu/catalog/person/?id=4416
More, Hannah. Sacred Dramas https://stainforth.scu.edu/catalog/title?&id=4387
Menken, Adah Isaacs. "Spirit Vision" https://stainforth.scu.edu/catalog/title?&id=4133; Person record https://stainforth.scu.edu/catalog/person/?id=5095
Moss, Celia and Marion. Early Efforts (1839). https://stainforth.scu.edu/catalog/title/?id=4476
Poyntz, Anne B. Je ne sçai quoi (1769) https://stainforth.scu.edu/catalog/title/?id=3347
Digital Sources Referenced:
Orlando: Women’s Writing in the British Isles from the Beginnings to the Present. Cambridge University Press, 2008, www.orlando.cambridge.org/.
"Francis Stainforth." Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Stainforth, accessed 21 July 2021.
Leuner, Kirstyn. “Restoring Authority for Women Writers: Name Authority Records as Digital Recovery Scholarship” in Huntington Library Quarterly 84.1 (Spring 2021): 13–26.
Leuner, Kirstyn. "Dynamic Cross Reference Links in Catalog Browsing." The Stainforth Library of Women's Writing, 23 February 2020, https://stainforth.scu.edu/dynamic-cross-reference-links-in-catalog-browsing/. Accessed 21 July 2021.
The Monument of Matrones. Compiled by Thomas Bentley. London: Henry Denham, 1582.
Moss, Celia and Marion. Early Efforts. A Volume of Poems by the Misses Moss, of the Hebrew Nation. Aged 18 and 16. London: 1839.
Catalogue of the Extraordinary Library, Unique of its Kind, Formed by the Late Rev. F. J. Stainforth. London: Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, printed by J. Davy and Sons, 1867. GoogleBooks. https://www.google.com/books/edition/Catalogues_of_Items_for_Auction_by_Messr/3T5bAAAAQAAJ/.
Walker, Cheryl. American Women Poets of the Nineteenth Century. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1992.
Suggestions for Further Reading:
Alison Hedley and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, “Prototyping Personography for The Yellow Nineties Online: Queering and Querying History in the Digital Age,” in Bodies of Information, ed. Losh and Wernimont, 157–72.
Guinn-Chipman, Susan. "Francis Stainforth Biography." The Stainforth Library of Women's Writing, https://stainforth.scu.edu/francis-stainforth-biography/. Accessed 22 July 2021.
"Physical Description of the Manuscript." The Stainforth Library of Women's Writing, https://stainforth.scu.edu/physical-description-of-the-manuscript/. Accessed 22 July 2021.