MINING THE WORKS OF IRISH WOMEN WRITERS, PART II

Kathleen Williams

  • See Mining the works of Irish Women Writers Part 1 here.

In 2005, granted a two-month research leave from the Boston College Libraries, I worked on a project that sought to raise visibility of Irish women writers.  The project included creating an online research guide that features bibliographies, anthologies, biographies, online resources and more, identifying the many women writers who worked in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. 

The work as I saw it involved two steps, which I will outline here.

Part One, First Step:

  • Identify the women writers: Look for women who wrote between 1800 and circa 1945. 
  •  Find and use bibliographies, anthologies, biographies, online lists, and websites.

Results:

  • a list of bibliographies, biographies, anthologies, critical editions, websites, and other online resources
  • a list of women and their dates

Part One, Next Step:

Use the information to create a multi-page Research Guide listing resources to enhance research.

The guide as it looks today

Research Leave, Step Two:

An advancement in the online library system in use at the time of this leave proved to be a way to enhance the visibility of Irish women authors.  

In the machine-readable bibliographic records for books and other resources there is a ‘note field.’ Adding a note such as, in this case, ‘local collection’ enables a researcher to do a search using the name of that note. All bibliographic records that contain that note will appear in the search results. This part of the work entailed collaboration with library cataloging staff members: 

  • I provided a list of names of women writers culled from bibliographies.
  • I provided dates for each woman as was possible.

The cataloging staff created the note, identified all the relevant records, and added the Irish Women Writers note to each record.

Screen shot of advanced search of the Boston College Libraries online catalog using the local collection name, Irish Women Writers
Screen shot showing the results of the local collection search shown above

Over seven hundred listings are retrieved with this search. The results list reflects works of the Irish women writers, so there is some duplication. Nevertheless, the list offers researchers a good starting point for finding Irish women authors to read and, along with the resources listed in the Irish Women Writers research guide, to begin in-depth exploration of one or more of these authors.

Kathleen Williams
Boston College Libraries (retired)


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