The Annual Monitor

I did not do a fantastic job of blogging about my DH work yesterday — though I did do some tweeting — but I wanted to add this  bit about the Stainforth project and the kind of questions it is raising for our development team.

One of our fabulous researchers, Erin Kingsley, came across a strange entry on page 11, line 19, and emailed me about it. We began what, for us, is a very common daily email conversation about how to account for certain data scenarios in a database that is still, really, in a test phase.

Page 11, Line 19 of Stainforth's Library Catalog Ms
Page 11, Line 19 of Stainforth’s Library Catalog Ms







We have been struggling to structure our database to accept complex authorship/editorial scenarios and the Annual Monitor tests us again. Stainforth’s Catalog is a project of logging authorship, for the most part, so it is rare that he has an entry that does not specifically point to an author, even within a collection. Here, he just gives us a collection and 3 editions: 1815, 1860, and 1866. Our researcher considered the option of adding “No Author” for this entry, but that does not help our searchability — and the “no author” will be clear in the TEI encoded/transcribed version.

I did a little spelunking online and discovered that The Annual Monitor had a 100th-year anniversary issue in 1913 that told the story of this publication in its preface. I quote the preface here nearly in full because it holds incredible detail, including the story of this pub’s inception, its successive editors, its size and shape, the history of its illustrations, changes to its content as it collected more and more notices of the deceased and  dropped the bits about taxes, for example. The preface also indicates that this pub was also a miscellany that included poetry and other creative works in addition to the lists of the dead.

Erin’s question about who to attribute The Annual Monitor to in the database inspired a little research that introduced me to this strange miscellany: a memorial, textual ruin, illustrated edited collection, conceived and first edited by a woman (Ann Alexander) in the early 19th century. Though we are still working on this entry in the database, this is precisely the kind of work we hoped the Stainforth project would do: dig up that which we ought to find new (digital) ways to remember.

Rather more than a hundred years ago, Ann
Alexander, daughter of William and Esther Tuke
and wife of William Alexander, suggested to her
\ husband, then commencing business as a book-
seller in York, a plan, to quote her own words,
“ for a pocket and memorandum book for our
own Society, which might also contain an Obit-
uary of its members, with such accounts of them
as might prove instructive and interesting.”
The result was the publication, “ under much
discouragement,” of the Annual Monitor and
Memorandum Book for 1813. Ann Alexander’s
project has, with some modifications, been carried
out for exactly a century, and this number of the
little book is thus the hundred and first of an un-
broken series. It may be observed that it is not
an official publication, but has always been the
absolute property of the successive editors.
The first number was a slim little volume in
paper covers, measuring five inches by three and
one-tenth, containing 144 pages made up of 36 pages of letterpress, including “ selections de-
signed to contribute either to the moral or to the
religious improvement of the reader,” a very
brief list of deaths, some in 1811 and some in
1812, and some information 011 the subject of
taxes. The rest of the work, which, it will be re-
membered, was primarily meant for a Pocket
Book, consisted of “ twelve pages ruled for ac-
counts and others headed with a short motto of
an instructive tendency, and divided so as for
every two pages to comprise a week. The “ selec-
tions,” which were for many years the chief feature
of the book, included articles, original or borrowed,
on such subjects as “ Slavery,” “ Peace,” “ Fam-
ily Worship,” “ Travels of James Backhouse,
Daniel Wheeler and G. W. Walker in the South-
ern Hemisphere,” “ Dress and Address,” “ On
the Use and Management of Time,” “ The Seneca
Indians,” “ The Plague of London,” “ Vegetables
which Preserve their Verdure in the Winter,”
“ Of the Blessings Granted to us in Winter, to
which we pay too little Attention,” and a great
variety of other subjects. Not the least remark-
able of such extracts was one giving an ac-
count of the adventures of two Friends who,
while on a religious visit to Scotland, narrowly
escaped death at a lonely inn, where, as in Wash-
ington Irving’s gruesome story, the flesh of
murdered travellers was offered as food. Some of the early volumes also contained a good deal
of verse on such topics as “ Silence,” “ A Thunder
Storm,” “ A Compendium of a Controversy on
Water Baptism,”—written, it is said, in allusion
to a discussion between a young woman Friend
and a Clergyman of the Church of England, who
would have married, had it not been for their
different attitudes on the question—and “Stanzas
Composed in the Night During the Pressure of
Indisposition.” These pieces were mostly brief.
The issues for 1813, 1815 and 1816, however, each
contained ten pages of extracts from Young’s
poem on “ Resignation,” and that for 1841, a
poem four and a half pages long, by Whittier,
entitled “ To the Memory of Daniel Wheeler.”
It may be observed in passing that the space
devoted, in the same volume, to an account of
Daniel Wheeler occupies nine lines, whereas
seven pages are given to a child of ten, including
extracts from a diary which he began before
he was eight years old. [. . . ] The Obituary was at first a very subordinate
part of the Annual Monitor and Memorandum
Book. In the volume for 1813, only 23 names
are mentioned, there are Memorial Notices of
from three to six lines in length about eleven
of the deceased, and there is one Notice twenty
lines long. In 1814, there are 19 names, several
of which had been mentioned the year before,
and the Notices are much longer. In 1816, only
14 names are given, in 1818, the number had
risen to 70, in 1830, it was 202, and in 1843, the
figure was 352.
For thirty years the little book retained its
original size and shape, still contained blank
leaves for accounts, and was still called The An-
nual Monitor and. Memorandum Book. In 1841,
William Alexander, who had been Editor from
the beginning, died, and in the Preface to the
volume for 1842, his executors, Samuel Tuke and
Sarah Backhouse of York, wrote that “ not being
able to make a satisfactory permanent arrange-
ment for the conducting of the Annual Monitor
in time for the present year, and being desirous
that a work in which so many members of the
Society of Friends felt considerable interest should not be given up, they had concluded to take upon
themselves the superintendence of the present
In the following year, in response to the ver-
dict of Friends on the question, changes were made.
The issue for 1843 was the first of a new series, of
which the size and shape were the same as at
present. Moreover, the blank pages for accounts
and the notes of taxes were omitted, and the sub-
sidiary title of 44 Memorandum Book ” was drop-
ped. For some years after this time occasional
articles appeared at the end of the book, but the
Obituary Notices gradually absorbed the whole
of the available space.
Samuel Tuke and Sarah Backhouse edited
the Annual Monitor until 1852. They were suc-
ceeded by Benjamin and Esther Seebohm, who
had charge of the book until 1863. The volume
for 1864 was edited by Benjamin Seebohm and
Joseph S. Sewell, and the latter was sole Editor
in the three following years. The preface to the
issue for 1868 is signed “ J. N.,” and from 1871
to 1877, the Editor writes himself in full, “ John
Newby,” a name very familiar to generation after
generation of Ackworth Scholars. The numbers
from 1878 to 1908 were edited by William Robin-
son, while residing firstly at Scarborough and
latterly at Weston-super-Mare. In the spring
of 1908, at the urgent and wholly unexpected request of William Robinson, then very seriously
ill, and lying on what proved to be his death-bed,
the present writer agreed to undertake the editor-
ship. Since that time two changes have been
made in the little book. The style of the cover
has been altered, and portraits have been added
to some of the Memoirs.
These were not, however, the first illustrations.
When, in 1833, an Index to the foregoing volumes
—which were then reprinted—was compiled,
there was added to the biographical sketch of
Benjamin Lay in the issue of 1813, a portrait of
that somewhat eccentric and most extraordinary
looking, but very remarkable man. Born in
England about the year 1660, he emigrated to
America, and having settled in Pennsylvania,
became “ the pioneer of that war which has since
been so successfully waged against the commerce
and slavery of the negroes.” Another illustra-
tion, which appeared in the Annual Monitor for
1840, represented a set of uncouth and very un-
attractive figures, meant for the deities from
whom were taken the “ Heathen Names ” of the
days of the week. This “ cut,” remarked the
editors, “ we are willing to hope may impress
upon some minds more strikingly the propriety
of our Testimony as a Society against adopting
such idolatrous designations.” n conclusion, the Editor again desires to
express his cordial thanks to the Friends who
have so kindly assisted him by furnishing the
annual returns ; and he gratefully acknowledges
his obligations to the proprietors of The Friend
and of The Friends’ Quarterly Examiner for the
leave, so readily given, to make use of materials
from the pages of those journals.
Francis A. Knight.

Good morning Day of DH

This year, my goals are to include more screenshots of my DH work in all of its forms, including books, and also correspondence. This will show how we work remotely on the Stainforth project. Remote work is not a bad thing, in fact it is a great thing. However,  it generates a lot of email and requires a prepared infrastructure to help researchers answer their own questions, such as  guideline updates. It also requires having researchers that are not shy about reporting their questions. We have lots of questions for each other.

So, screenshot 1: here is an email message, but it’s too fuzzy to read. Broken electronic thing #1:

Screen Shot 2014-04-08 at 7.01.31 AM







The email is related to an exchange I had with our general editor for the Stainforth project, Deborah Hollis. She is incredible. I wrote to her yesterday when I learned about the DH Commons journal debut that would peer review mid-stage DH projects and offer critiques for them and publish those critiques so that others could learn from them. I think peer review is a goal that the Stainforth Project should have to authenticate our resource, make sure it passes muster, and ensure that it is authoritative enough for scholars to use and cite.

Our current challenges for the Stainforth Project are not peer review. We are not there yet. Here is the short list:

  • Our researchers/transcribers both got positions elsewhere for next year and will both be leaving the project when their Spring semesters end. This was really not the plan, especially considering how great both Kyle Bickoff and Erin Kingsley are.
  • Find new researchers to take over when Erin and Kyle have to stop. They are being paid with grant funds (President’s Fund for the Humanities) that won’t extend well, or at all, to those who are no longer students.
  • I need to create an editorial schedule to check the new data being input by myself, Kyle, Erin, Debbie, and Elizabeth. Today’s the day — this has been on my list for a week.
  • Our database entry form is buggy — which is to be expected when databases are new — but we have been keeping track of data that we need to enter that we currently do not have the functionality to enter. It is frustrating to gather data and not be able to enter it. But we carry on!


Just another Day of DH 2014 site

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