British and Irish Women’s Letters and Diaries

I looked at “British and Irish Women’s Letters and Diaries”, an archive which includes the immediate experiences of approximately 500 women, as revealed in over 100,000 pages of diaries and letters. It includes more then 100,000 pages written between 1600 and 1950 by women who lived in the British Isles for a significant portion of their lives. This archive, which is incredibly user-friendly, allows a researcher to quickly and easily access a number of different documents from different collections in order to work on various questions. By bringing together so many different collections and making them searchable in so many ways, this database would allow people working on a wide range of projects to quickly and easily see if their question was relevent to these women and how their reactions changed over time, or to do more in depth comparisons.

The database is arranged to be searchable in a number of different fashions. For those browsing very broadly, the database can be viewed by author, source, year, place, person event, or historical event. There is also a search function to find specific categories. Users can look by Author, Editor or Translator, Title, Source Type, Publisher, Year of Publication and Social Headings. For those less familiar with the database, clicking on the terms button by each category opens a second window which has a list of every available term, which can be checked off to be included. Results can be sorted by author, title and year. There is also the option to see the actual SQL query or the Bibliographic record for the results. A third method for using the site is to search the texts. Words or phrases can be entered to be searched for, and users have the option of restricting the search only to certain authors, years, document types or subject headings. The advanced search offers even more options, letting you pick how many marriages a woman had, how many children, her age at childbirth and many more, with 21 filters in all. A quick search for documents written in March by Catholic women between ages 30 and 40 who were married only once, “Bibliographic criteria: docmonth=3 agewriting=30-40 marriagestatus=married religion=catholic nummarriages=1” found 9 documents. For anyone with a very specific project in mind, a tool like this would save a lot of time and energy on finding the documents in the archives, and allow that to be put towards analyzing the evidence and solving problems.

The records are displayed in the following manner.
“Anne of Denmark, Queen of England, 1574-1619, Letter from Anne of Denmark, Queen of England to Arabella Stuart, March 09, 1607 in The Life and Letters of Lady Arabella Stuart; Including Numerous Original and Unpublished Documents, in two volumes, vol. 2. Cooper, Elizabeth. London, England: Hurst & Blackett, 1866, pp. 303. [Bibliographic Details] [View Full Text][3-9-1607] S5145-D026”
This record contains links to the specific letter, the full source and the breakdown of the author.

Author: Anne of Denmark, Queen of England, 1574-1619
All Author Forms: Anne of Denmark, Queen of England, 1574-1619; Anne of Denmark, Queen of England
Age at Writing: 33
Birth Date: 1574
Death Date: 3-4-1619
Place of Birth: Skanderborg, Denmark; Arhus, Denmark; Denmark; Scandinavia; Western Europe; Europe
Place of Death: Hampton Court Palace, England; England; United Kingdom; Western Europe; Europe
Nationality: English; European
Race: White
Religion: Lutheran; Christian; Catholic
Occupation: Head of state
Marital Status When Writing: Married
Age at Marriage: 15
Number of Marriages: 1
Maternal Status When Writing: Mother
Number of Children: 8
Age at First Childbirth: 20
Document Title: Letter from Anne of Denmark, Queen of England to Arabella Stuart, March 09, 1607
Date of Composition: 3-9-1607
Document Type: Letter
Where Written (Setting): Royal courts
Where Written (Geographical): Whitehall, England; England; United Kingdom; Western Europe; Europe
Where Sent (Geographical): Not indicated
Recipient: Stuart, Lady Arabella, 1575-1615; Seymour, Arabella Stuart; Seymour, Mrs. William; Arabella Stuart
Recipient’s Gender: F
Relationship to Author: Other
Subject – Topics: Royal attendants
Subject – Broad: Sociology
Source Title: The Life and Letters of Lady Arabella Stuart; Including Numerous Original and Unpublished Documents, in two volumes, vol. 2.
Editor or Translator: Cooper, Elizabeth
Place of Publication: London, England
Publisher: Hurst & Blackett
Year of Publication: 1866
Source Medium: Text
Source Type: Book
Language: English
Document ID: S5145-D026

This information would help me organize Ann in my own work, or find other writings by her very quickly. Each document has been typed in, not scanned, so the original look and feel of the document have not been preserved. For some projects, using the database to identify important records and where to find hard copies of them in physical archives would also be a valuable use. The showcase button does contain scanned images of items that may be of interest which highlight the many different resources available in the collection.

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