Archival Documents

The archival documents that we collected during several research stays in the United States are embedded as PDFs with the plugin PDF Embed. For the transcriptions, we maintained the page breaks for users to easily look up the original text passages.


A list of archives and the abbreviations used for the Omeka item pages can be found here. Databases used are also displayed in the list. Please note that this list is a work in progress. If you miss any essential information that is referred to on the Omeka item pages but is missing on the list, please send an email and we will add the information asap.

Content Management System Information

Omeka Classic 3.0.2 embedded in WordPress


theme: northfield master


Based on our research questions, we assigned the items to different exhibits such as ‘Gossip in Print’ or ‘Cushman’s Networks.’


We avoided to ascribe binary gender categories to historical agents. We are still using pronouns to avoid repetitions of names in the description text fields. The letters often give away whether a person perceived of themselves as a woman or man. These categories, however, had and have multiple dimensions in terms of behavior, societal ideals, gender performances, etc. In particular in Cushman’s circles, there were many women that did not comply with the feminine ideal of Victorian women. Cushman built her success on this deviation from the norm, as her performances as Romeo illustrate. Please refer to items marked with the “gender bending”-tag for further annotated primary material.


Geocoding data is included to enable dynamically mapping letter correpondence in a later stage of research. Additionally, we use the Geolocation plugin provided by Omeka in order to display the location where a letter was written, an article or monograph was published. In doing so, we can trace the geographical space that Charlotte Cushman acted in or was talked about. The geolocation is displayed on the item page and in a browsable map, which is one of the main menu options of the collection.

  • for longitude and latitude data, we refer to
  • format: place, state, country; longitude & latitude (according to 21st-century standards and data)
  • we distinguish between location of recipient and sender where possible (e.g. letters)

Item Search

Users are enabled to search the items for their specific interests. Users should use the “advanced search”-option. Additionally, there is a “refine search”-option enabled through the Facet Plugin.


We adhere to the Dublin Core standards and customized some additional item-type-specific information such as text type or annotation information.


The relationship plugin AvantRelationships provides the opportunity to visually display relevant relationships among items. At the end of the metadata information, users are able to click on the respective items to be directed to that specific item entry.

We have customized the relationships but refrained from defining them too narrowly. Hence, we can specify the relationship “in a relationship with” semantically in the description box of items of the type “person” to capture the historical specificities of intimacies between women in Cushman’s circles, for instance. The plugin emphasizes the networks of the historical agents, human and non-human, presented in the collection(s).

Secondary Sources

A list of secondary sources can be found on the blog’s website (WordPress). The sources are assigned to different research categories such as ‘gender/sexuality’ and ‘19th century literature’ to show the research areas that the project is interested in as well as to guide the user’s search. For the item pages, the quotes and notes taken from secondary sources operate on a last name basis sticking to MLA8 citation guidelines.


Culkin, Kate. Harriet Hosmer: A Cultural Biography. U of Massachusetts P, 2010.

the item page would show

(Culkin 349).

Primary sources are also listed on the blog’s website.

Please note that these lists are a work in progress.


In our transcriptions, we stick to the original spelling conventions: e.g. “every one” or “some thing” are not marked with [sic]. For inconsistencies in spelling, such as a missing apostrophe for the genitive case or negated auxiliaries, [sic] annotations are used in the transcription text.

For Cushman’s handwriting, u/n, beg/by, our/one, leaving/having are frequent words that are difficult to distinguish. Transcribed words guessed from the context are marked with [?]. In particular, Cushman used random dots/periods in her handwriting. We refrained from replacing them with commata or deleting them.


The tags enhance clarity and specify the relation of an item to a particular research focus that is part of the project’s goals. The tags are also part of the word cloud displayed at the bottom of the Omeka collection page.

  • press coverage: press-related content; e.g. article and published auto/biographies; also used for letters that mention press-related content
  • public image (active): author of document considers public reputation issues (implicitly or explicitly)
  • gossip: unpublished instances of gossip
  • gossip–published: instances of the term or concept of gossip that were published in the press (articles, books, etc.); contemporary definitions of gossip from the 19th or 20th century
  • rumors: “While rumours can be disseminated anonymously, gossip is always personal: an ‘intimate, usually collective narrative’ (Adkins 2002: 216) that relies on close personal ties between all involved” (Horn, Katrin. “Of Gaps and Gossip: Intimacy in the Archive.” Anglia, vol. 138, no. 3, 2020, pp. 429)
  • sexuality: mentions of physical attraction, issues explicitly related to the sexes, not necessarily tied to identity but rather focus on practice
  • same-sex attraction: physical and romantic attraction between agents identifying as women 
  • love: expressions of love, intimacies; For the range of terms applied to relationships between women based on different forms of attachment, refer to Merrill, Marcus, Vicinus, Faderman, Chapman (Nineteenth-Century Gender, Sexuality & Society Sources)
  • admirers: e.g. fan letters, favorable accounts in the press, praise in letters, …
  • financial concerns: discussions about precarity, wages, poverty, payments for art, debt, loans, estate, trustees, …
  • gender norms/bending: implicit or explicit mentions of gender norms of the 19th century 
  • social capital: relationships that constitute a social network potentially supportive of access to money, institutions, engagements/job offers, etc.
  • women’s jobs 
  • public intimacy: public accounts that discuss or display intimacy between two agents, private life writing that discusses public consequences of intimacies, porous boundaries between private and (semi-)public spheres
  • respectability: items that discuss socially acceptable behavior, mostly in terms of gender norms and privac issues
  • travel/touring: items related to performances and private traveling
  • Rome 
  • London 
  • auto/biography: items related to the biography written by Stebbins (private life writing, public and private responses); other auto/biographical accounts related to Cushman can be found in the respective exhibit
  • breach of privacy: mostly private life writing that addresses a violation of trust

Transcription Annotations

When transcribing the original document, we aim at reproducing the annotations that we encounter on the page. For instance, if the author of the letter or diary entry underlined a passage, we indicate that in the transcription. If the archivist added information such as the year that the letter was presumably written and sent, we indicate that in the annotation metadata box that we have defined and set up in Omeka (Item Type Metadata).

  • [inserted]

insertions: indicated by [inserted] following the words that are inserted; indicated if more than one word is inserted, e.g. [last five words inserted] or if a symbol marks a reference to another page, e.g. X [references insertion on 2505]

  • +++

gaps indicated by +++ if word cannot be deciphered and/or is blackened

  • [sic]

if wrong spelling is used in the original document

  • [p. 1]/[page 1]/[3399] etc.

separates document pages to enhance clarity, indicates if the archival document is marked with a number, e.g. LoC, CCP 1:3399 which means that the letter is from the Library of Congress, Charlotte Cushman Collection, Box 1, page number 3399; the page number was assigned by the respective archive; if such a number is missing, we have inserted [page 1] etc. if we separated the transcriptions page by page

  • [3399 reverse]

the reverse of a page that was assigned a number by an archive does not show a number, to enhance clarity we marked the transcription of such a page by [reverse 3399]

  • [?]

researcher who transcribed the word is unsure about the transcription

  • no line breaks indicated
  • letter head (place, date, day of the week) not transcribed as information, it can be found in metadata fields
  • signature is transcribed
  • […]

used to indicate partial transcription if only the relevant parts are trancribed


Initially, we described documents without any technical support. Starting April 2020, we have been using the expert tool Transkribus. At first, we trained our own model based on our own transcriptions of more than 180 pages. This model is repeatedly improved and modified. Transkribus uses handwritten text recognition and layout analysis. At the moment, it is still for free, which may change in the near future. It is an excellent tool that helps with line-by-line description and automatic transcriptions. Currently, the CER for our model is slightly above 9%. Thus, the training is a work in progress.

If the transcripts are provided by another institution or researcher, those instances are marked in the description box of the respective item entry.