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Documentation for the Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project

Terry Heller, Coe College
Founder and original organizer of the archive.


In process
This document is developing as I work through the archive and take note of items that seem to need explanation.  The most recent revision was in April 2017.

Introduction

This document contains notes on the Jewett archive as a whole and on some individual parts of it.  The main purpose of this document is to provide information about the choices I have made in developing the archive.  I hope this will be useful to those who take responsibility for the archive in the future.
    While explanations for most of the archive are here, some sections have their own documentation files, with links on their content pages.
    As the previous sentence indicates, I have failed to be perfectly consistent over the approximately 20 years that I have been the sole developer of the archive.  Though I am fully responsible for its current shape and content, many others have helped in myriad ways.  I have attempted to maintain a list of these helpers in an acknowledgments section here:

http://www.public.coe.edu/~theller/soj/sj-index.htm

but there are many, especially librarians, that I have not yet added.  Over my years, I have sometimes deliberately and sometimes inadvertently made changes in formats.  Before I turn over the site to others, I hope to make the whole archive more consistent in appearance and organization, but I despair of completing this work, in part because it is less interesting and seems less urgent than adding new materials.  Digitization and the consequent easy availability of many manuscript collections has opened up so much new material, and I am eagerly devoting as much as possible of my retirement years to building the section of Jewett's correspondence.
    Furthermore, I am aware that the native HTML coding that I have used throughout does not meet the standards developed by digital humanities associations for the reproduction of texts.  Re-editing to meet those standards is beyond my ability and -- important as I know it to be -- far outside my areas of interest.  I live in the hope that future archive managers will have the resources to insure the upgrading and preservation of the materials I have so painstakingly developed.

Technical Documentation

I began the Sarah Orne Jewett Text Project in 1998, using native HTML, and I have continued this practice down to 2017.  I have used a number of HTML editors over that time, giving preference to those that create the simplest and cleanest code.  In 2017, the editor is Mozilla Composer.   During that period, the site's home has been the servers of Coe College, Cedar Rapids, IA.  Coe has generously provided all the necessary server space, as well as much technical assistance and hardware and software updates for my equipment.

In addition to the systematic backups of Coe's system, I have maintained two full copies of the archive on external drives, plus a regularly updated working copy on a lap top.


Development History

My plan from the beginning was to design an archive that would meet the following criteria.

- Easily accessible to users.
- Easily downloaded texts.
- Readable on screen.
- Annotated for all readers throughout the world.
- Technically easy to develop.
- Minimal technical maintenance necessary.
- Simple and transparent organization.

Over the years, as a result of experience in part, but mainly of technology and software changes, I have modified how I have approached some of these criteria, and not all parts of the archive reflect my changed approaches, as many sections have not been revisited systematically in years.

I have stayed with the goals of easy access and downloading, despite the eventual appearance in PDF format of many of the texts I had already digitized as text.  There are few PDFs in this archive; almost every primary text can be downloaded or copied and pasted for easy quotation by scholars and students.

I no longer worry about on-screen readability because readers can so easily modify the appearance on their screens to suit their needs.  Texts produced long ago contain code to enlarge fonts, for example, but recent texts do not.

I have probably been least consistent with annotation choices.  Some texts are very heavily annotated, while others are more lightly treated, and there are a few cases where there is little or no annotation.  How much attention I have given texts has been determined largely by chance, such as whether I was using those texts in pieces I was writing for print publication.  In general, however, I have tended to annotate more heavily those texts that do not receive much attention from the scholarly community, and to give less attention to texts, such as The Country of the Pointed Firs, which has several scholarly editions in print. 
    When I work on annotation, I am fairly consistent in trying to catch and explain those items likely to puzzle younger and non-American readers.
    The development of Wikipedia also has changed my approach to modification.  While I am well aware that Wikipedia is not perfectly reliable, it does provide a good starting point for explaining many of the items I would annotate.  As a result, more and more, I offer minimal explanation and a Wikipedia link, when there is a Wikipedia entry on the item.
    The use of Wikipedia points to another change I have made over the years.  In the early years of developing the site, almost any Internet link could disappear at any time.  Therefore, in my early texts, I avoided using external links, keeping all references internal to the site.  This was part of making my maintenance work minimal. But as the Internet became more reliable and some websites, like Wikipedia and Google Books, as well as many academic sites, became more or less permanent, I became more willing to provide links to external sites that, in my judgment, were likely to remain stable.

    Though I have changed my approach to annotation and the use of external links, I still have clung to keeping technical work minimal.  The few times I have developed fairly complex presentations, using frames, for example, I have sometimes regretted how time-consuming developing and maintaining that portion became.  In the case of my edition of the Annie Fields collection of Jewett letters, I eventually abandoned a more complex presentation for a simpler one.  Perhaps the most complex presentation is of Jewett's novel, The Tory Lover, which I have not yet been persuaded to change.  There is so much valuable information there, and the complexity makes it easily viewable and accessible.

    I have used two basic annotation styles.  For the fiction, poems and essays, I have tried to serve general readers by providing anchors and links within the text, to make it easy for readers to move between the notes at the ends of documents and the texts.  In the letters and in a few other texts, I have used asterisks within the texts to signal items for which their are notes at the end of the document.

    I decided at the beginning the my directory structure would be simple as well, so that I could easily find my way around within the archive. I chose a system of initials and short titles that would put all directories in "plain language" and would keep all titles at 8 or fewer characters, and further, would produce short file names.  As a result, I can identify nearly any item by looking at its name.  Because this works so well for me, I've assumed that others would see this the same way.  But I am assured this may not be the case.  Therefore, the next section is an overview of the directory structure of the archive.

Structure of the Archive -- Indexes and the Directory

The Jewett Archive has general indexes and section indexes.  General indexes provide access to the entire archive; section indexes typically are tables of contents for individual books or of sections of collections, such as in the chronological correspondence collection, which is divided into years.

General Indexes

The main index for the entire archive is:  http://www.public.coe.edu/~theller/soj/contents.htm.

This page provides on one screen links to each main section of the archive as well as to other main indexes.  It also provides a simple search routine -- instructions and a link for using Google Advanced Search to search only within this archive.

The main section links mainly are kinds of texts by Jewett.

    Stories -- points to a list of links to Jewett's short story collections.
    Novels -- points to a list of links to Jewett's novels.
    Poems -- points to a list of links to Jewett's individual poems and collections of her poems.
    Essays -- points to a list of links to Jewett's individual essays.
    Young Readers -- points to a list of links to Jewett's writing for children.
    Letters and Diaries -- points to a list of links to lists of published and unpublished diaries and letters.
    Other Texts -- points to a list of links to Jewett items that don't fall into the previous categories.
    Manuscripts -- links to texts that exist only in manuscript, not otherwise published, as well as to manuscripts of published texts.

    I have tried to avoid overlaps.  Each Jewett text appears in only one of these categories, unless I have made errors.

The remaining links are to other sub-indexes.

    There are four main sub-indexes

    1.  Alphabetical List of Texts -- a list of links to individual works of Jewett, plus at the end, to some other items related to Jewett.

    2.  Bibliography -- a chronological list of all of Jewett's publications.  This list includes links to copies of these texts within the archive and to PDFs outside the archive.

    3.  Literary Scholarship -- a regularly updated chronological list of all known academic writing about Jewett.  Links to texts of these items are provided when they are available.  This section is set up in frames, providing links to brief summaries of the items that appear in the right frame.  The summaries usually are direct quotations from essays -- either thesis statements or conclusions.  For longer texts, the summaries often come from reviews.
    A note on this.  I have learned in conversation that non-academic users find this section confusing.  They do not easily understand what the summaries are and how they may be used.  I am not sure what to do about this, except at this point to take note.  Clearly, I've thought of this index as mainly for academic readers.  Should it be rethought?

    4.  Biography -- a link to a list of biographical texts by and about Jewett. All of these texts are included in the archive, and links to them appear in this index.   

    There are three other sub-indexes, and my commitment to these has become less strong over time.

Annie Fields -- This link points to another index to a small archive of the works of Annie Adams Fields.  I have done rather little work with this archive, aside from making texts available, but it has proven useful to users.  It has been especially helpful to me in identifying epigraphs in Jewett, as she fairly often quotes from Fields.

Related Texts -- This link points to a list of texts that I have collected and added while working on publications and on background materials for some of Jewett's texts.  It is a grab-bag and not systematic.  I'm inclined to continue this section, odd as it is, because I find this material quite interesting, and I think it worth keeping it generally available.

Portraits -- This points to a list of links to images of Jewett, her family, friends and associates.  Before the advent of Wikipedia, this seemed an important resource, especially to younger readers.  Now images of most of these people are easily accessible on the Internet, usually at Wikipedia I have not been maintaining this section for several years, and I am thinking of eliminating it, except perhaps for a Jewett photo gallery.


Directory Structure

I have organized what seems to me a simple directory structure for storing the files of the archive.

The main directory folder is: http://www.public.coe.edu/~theller/soj/

    It contains these sub-folders

1-graphics, which contains the graphics files for this main folder.

    Folders for each of Jewett's books:
A Country Doctor - acd/       
A Marsh Island - ami/    
A White Heron - awh/    
Betty Leicester -    bls/       
Country By-Ways - cbw/      
The Country of the Pointed Firs - cpf/   
Deephaven - dph/     
The King of Folly Island - kfi/ 
Letters & Diaries - let/   (unusual in containing published collections as well as manuscript material)
The Life of Nancy - lon/   
The Mate of the Daylight  - mod/   
The Story of the Normans - indexed under Other Texts - nor/
A Native of Winby - now/     
Old Friends and New - ofn/   
Play Days - pld/  
Poems - poe/        (unusual in containing individual poems from magazines as well as a collection, Verses.)
Strangers and Wayfarers - saw/   
Tales of New England - tne/    
The  Queen's Twin - tqt/   
The Tory Lover (two folders, one for the novel and one for the Atlantic Monthly publication)
    tta/        Atlantic
    ttl/       
Uncollected prose written for adults - una/     
Uncollected prose written for children unc/   

There is one anomalous folder: translations.
    I have not come to the ideal solution for my decision to include translations in the bibliography.  On one hand, it seems useful to list translations of Jewett's work.  But, on the other, European graduate students in recent years have begun producing translations and asking me to link to them.  While it seems useful to inform readers that these translations exist, the links have proven problematic.  As a result, I have been asking for copies, storing them in the archive, and linking to the local copies.  This folder is the storage place for these.  Links to these texts appear only in the Bibliography file: biblio.html.

Files of the home page in the main directory
 
This file: sojtp-documentation.html

Main contents page file - contents.htm
Alphabetical index file - m-index.htm  
Chronological bibliography file - biblio.html  
Page of links to story collections - story.html
Page of links to novels - novels.html
Page of links to writing for young readers - young.htm.

I note that as a regular user, I hardly ever use the home page, and in several ways it has become outdated.  I am thinking about revising it.

Home page file - sj-index.htm
    with supporting frames files
    menu.htm   
    menu2.htm   

    and with files the home page points to
 
    info1.htm   
    info2.htm  


Miscellaneous Issues

Multiple texts
For a number of Jewett's texts, I have collected multiple texts, and for most of these I have made comparisons to show changes she made from one to the next.  Early in the development of the project, I recorded these changes in tables.  Later, I shifted to presenting the earlier text using colored fonts to show changes within the presentation.  Using colored text is technically easier and less time-consuming, but both methods took more time than I really wanted to give.  I've not been able to decide which I prefer.  Perhaps there is a simpler method available, such as software that does it automatically?  In all the time I put into this, I found only a few alterations that were substantial or that seemed to me seriously interesting.  But anyone who compares texts knows that it is difficult to predict what will prove interesting in the long run,

Uncollected Works
As I eventually discovered a larger number of uncollected works than I expected, I chose -- perhaps unwisely -- to store uncollected stories and essays for adults in one folder and uncollected stories and essays for children in another.  If I were starting over, I believe it might be better to have four folders, separating stories from essays for each reading level.




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