2. William Godwin’s Diary: An InfoDev Case Study

NOTE: This article was unfortunately truncated in the paper copy. This is the full, complete version. With apologies to the project team.

Screen shots showing working on William Godwin's Diary

The William Godwin’s Diary project has transcribed, edited, and annotated 48 years of William Godwin’s diary from 1788-1836. The diary is a resource of immense importance to researchers of history, politics, literature, and women’s studies. It maps the radical intellectual and political life of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as well as providing extensive evidence on publishing relations, conversational coteries, artistic circles and theatrical production over the same period. One can also trace the developing relationships of one of the most important families in British literature, Godwin’s own, which included his wife Mary Wollstonecraft (17591797), their daughter Mary Shelley (1797-1851) and his son-in-law Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822).

Many of the most important figures in this period of British cultural history feature in its pages, including Anna Barbauld, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charles James Fox, William Hazlitt, Thomas Holcroft, Elizabeth Inchbald, Charles and Mary Lamb, Mary Robinson, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, William Wordsworth, and many others. The resource, which includes complete images and detailed full-text transcriptions, is freely available online.

2.1. Planning the project

OUCS’s InfoDev team) provided research advice and support. It was involved in planning the funding bid for the project and helped specify the technical components of the bid and assisted in specifying technical solutions that were both appropriate and feasible. This was a collaborative inter-departmental project between Politics, OUCS and the Bodleian. The bid was successful in receiving funding from the Leverhulme Trust.

2.2. Training project staff

One of the appropriate technologies for marking up such texts are the Guidelines of the Text Encoding Initiative. TEI P5 XML is a de facto standard for the encoding of digital text which over the last couple decades the University of Oxford has become international leaders in the support and development in their role as a TEI Consortium host. Two members of InfoDev are fortunate enough to be elected members of the TEI Technical Council and so help to shape the ongoing developments of this important set of recommendations.

The InfoDev team provided a couple days training to the project both in a subset of the TEI Guidelines customised for the project's specific needs, as well as a version control system called subversion. This latter technology allowed InfoDev and all of the project staff to collaborative and simultaneously edit the files in different locations while storing all previous revisions.

2.3. Supporting the project

Throughout the life of the project the InfoDev team was on hand to provide technical advice and support. This ranged from guidance on the use of TEI P5 XML, further constraints or modification of their customisation of the TEI, and a wide range of other forms of support. It has proved invaluable to the project to include in the original bid a level of ongoing consultation for the duration of the project.

2.4. Implementing the technology

The InfoDev team implemented the website based on the needs and directions of the project. This involved the installation and customisation of the eXist native XML database that powers the site, the construction of a wide range of queries to extract data, building a zooming image browser, creation of analytical tools, and implementation of the website itself. The team also liaised with the Bodleian who host the site on behalf of the project. These tasks formed a work-package which the project was not able to undertake and out-sourcing it to InfoDev left them free to concentrate on the task of detailed editing of the diary.

2.5. Preserving the resource

The InfoDev team has helped the project use sustainable methods for the construction of the digital edition and providing preservation copies of the materials for long-term storage in the Oxford Text Archive. All the images, texts, and other materials are freely licensed with a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial license which makes them immediately available for further scholarly research across the globe.


The InfoDev team is happy to advise any research projects contemplating submitting funding applications with significant technological aspects. Where appropriate InfoDev may be able to partner with the project in the provision of technical support and resources.

Up: Contents Previous: 1. InfoDev Next: 3. OxPoints, OpenMeters, and Open Data at OUCS