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Elizabeth Hagglund, "Review of the Brown University Women Writers Project and the Perdita Project." Interactive Early Modern Literary Studies, May 2000

Review of Women Writers Online, Library Journal, November 15, 1999.

Reproduced here with permission.

"The Women Writers Project, located at Brown University, has been working since the late 1980s to bring underrepresented women’s writing into the technological realm. Its elegant solution is now available on the web. From the earliest listed work, Margaret Roper’s A Devout Treatise Upon the Pater Noster (1526), up through A Legacy for Young Ladies by Anna Laetitia Barbauld (1826), this constantly growing (178+ entries), full-text database is a treasure trove of lesser-known texts by women. The searchable collection is culled from original texts at 26 major research collections, including the Huntington Library, Bodleian Library, a variety of British libraries, and university libraries at Cambridge, Harvard, and Brown."

"The interface can be complex for sophisticated searching, so users should expect to spend some time with the system to exploit the site to its full potential. But this amazingly rich collection is also immediately accessible using a simple search box. There are many access points into the file, including author, date, publication location, publisher, text size, text length, source library, and Wing or STC numbers. The content is plain text: no images are included (although there are notations where flourishes do appear). Page breaks are delineated, and the text is organized accordingly. A very sweet feature is the ability to choose whether to use frames or not (would that more systems gave us this option!)."

"The designers of this resource practice full disclosure, a rare feature in a time when so many other full-text commercial sites fail to describe adequately the extent of their contents. You can read about the WWP’s project history, join its listserv, and keep up via newsletters. There is also ongoing upgrade information: in one instance, an excellent help screen points out a bug in the sorting command while at the same time announcing that it will soon be repaired. The encoding methods employed, including transcription and editorial principles, are easily available via the site index. A bibliography, calls for papers, related sites, etc. are all easily located within the database."

"The Bottom Line: Women Writers Online is a specialized database; any library serving literature and history researchers will be interested in accessing the early female written voice. Highly recommended for large public and academic libraries."

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