Nineteenth century women's private correspondence as a problem in historical editing : a case study from the letters of Sophie B Herrick, 1870-1877

Ockwell, Joanne (2004) Nineteenth century women's private correspondence as a problem in historical editing : a case study from the letters of Sophie B Herrick, 1870-1877. Masters thesis, University of Gloucestershire.

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The thesis provides an overview of the problems involved in editing nineteenth century private women's documents. By using a case study of a collection of private women's letters, each element of the editing process is examined. The letters are taken from a collection written by Sophie B. Herrick, who was herself a literary editor, at a turning point in her life and career, from 1870 to 1877. The thesis firstly investigates a cross section of problems and dilemmas faced by editors of nineteenth century private women's documents in the following categories of analysis: search, selection, organisation and calendaring, dating, transcription and visual presentation, arrangement, annotation, proofreading and verification. Secondly, the thesis provides a set of guidelines which can be used as a working methodology for all editing projects involving nineteenth century private women's documents. Thirdly, the thesis provides examples of the editing problems and solutions investigated. Whilst not the main objective of the thesis, the examples also total a scholarly edition of eleven transcriptions of the Herrick letters, that contribute a valuable primary source to nineteenth century women's intellectual history, an area acutely under-resourced. The thesis contributes to the growing area of public history, and more specifically, the historical editing field. Most currently available guidelines for historical editing focus on experience derived from work on large projects revolving around public documents. This thesis specifically addresses projects based on private documents written by women. Preface Written between 1870 and 1877 the letters of Sophie Bledsoe Herrick to Allen Christian Redwood are a unique collection of private documents written by a nineteenth-century woman at a turning point in her life and career. The letters offer an alternative perspective on elements of social history due to the author's unusual social status as a divorcee and her career as a scientific writer. They are privately owned, and remained unedited until 1996, when Dr Rebecca Starr embarked upon the process of editing them for publication. The problems encountered during the editing of the collection inspired this thesis. It was found that few guidelines for the editing of historical documents existed. Those that did mainly concentrated on public records rather than the 'private' letters of the Herrick collection. Therefore, solutions to the problems and dilemmas encountered were sometimes based on 'best­judgement' and 'what seemed best' rather than advice from the historical editing field. It became obvious that there was a need for an analysis of the problems encountered and guidelines for editing nineteenth-century women's private documents. Hence, this Masters thesis began to take shape. Both primary and secondary sources have been used in the preparation of this study. The Herrick letters are the primary source, upon which the study is based. Secondary sources in the forms of books and journal articles have been used to gather an understanding of some of the methodologies used in the editing of other types of documents. They were also used to establish the context within which the Herrick collection is judged as part of the wider historical editing field. It must be noted that this thesis was completed prior to the completion of the editing of the Herrick collection. Therefore, the solutions suggested in the guidelines section have, so far, only been implemented on the selection of letters chosen for this thesis. They will, in due course, be used during the editing of the entire collection.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
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Additional Information: A print copy of this thesis is available for reference use only.
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Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR401 Modern > PR451 19th century
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > School of Creatives
Depositing User: Susan Turner
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2022 16:51
Last Modified: 31 Aug 2023 08:57

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