About the Archive

The Woman’s Literary Club of Baltimore was founded in 1890 by a group of educated women who wanted to get their words into print. Over the next five decades, they met every Tuesday afternoon between October and June, hearing lectures on various topics, appreciating each other’s written contributions, enjoying refreshments and each other’s company.

This site is a digital repository of the papers and publications of the Club, consisting of thousands of pages of meeting minutes, over a thousand meeting programs, and over one thousand publications by Club members recovered by a research team of undergraduate students led by Professor Jean Lee Cole, Department of English.

The Club’s papers, which are held at the Maryland Center for History and Culture in Baltimore, Maryland, were transcribed on location as well as offsite using digital surrogates. Raw transcriptions are included on the archive and are being gradually replaced by revised and annotated transcriptions compiled by Professor Cole.

Texts included in the Virtual Library were located in academic databases and online repositories including HathiTrust Digital Library, Archive.org, and Google Books; authorship was verified by Professor Cole. When possible, digital surrogates of texts have been embedded in the site. A selection of Club member publications were transcribed, edited, and annotated by students and published in an anthology, Parole Femine: Words and Lives of the Woman’s Literary Club of Baltimore (Baltimore, MD: Apprentice House, 2019). The anthology is available on Amazon.com.

About the Site

This site was built using CollectionBuilder, a software built using open source components that emphasizes creating digital collections and exhibitions using static web technologies and minimal computing principles. Per the CollectionBuilder site, CollectionBuilder is an open source framework for creating digital collection and exhibit websites that is developed by faculty librarians at the University of Idaho Library following the Lib-Static methodology. This site uses the CollectionBuilder-GH template in conjunction with the static website generator Jekyll and GitHub Pages. Technical specifications for CollectionBuilder are publicly available and the project is supported by an Institute of Museum and Library Services grant. The goal of minimal computing and static web technologies is to, ultimately, create a site that is more stable and consumes fewer resources over time. The core principle of sustainability was a motivating factor in selecting CollectionBuilder and serves as an affirmation of one of the project’s core values.

Implementation of the site was completed jointly by Jean Lee Cole and Elizabeth James using a West Virginia Humanities Council grant in 2022-2023. The site structure largely replicates the prior iteration of the site, which used Omeka. Data was extracted from Omeka by Elizabeth using a combination of available data exports and web scraping approaches because of inherent limitations in how the version of Omeka supports data exports. Elizabeth then mapped and normalized the data to fit the schema used by CollectionBuilder and some existing prior custom metadata fields. Additional customizations to the site included user interface changes and adaptations to the search functionality to support full-text search and improve access and use of the materials.