Digital Mitford Coding School, May 27 – 31, 2015: 3rd Annual Workshop Series

[Posted on behalf of Elisa Beshero-Bondar by Paul O’Shea, social media coordinator.]

Dear TEI List,

Please share with any you think might be interested in joining us! This is a great opportunity for people to learn TEI and related coding through hands-on training with materials in an ongoing project.


We are calling for participants and prospective new editors to join us from Wed. May 27 through Sunday May 31, 2015  for the Third Annual Workshop Series (or Coding School) of the Digital Mitford: the Mary Russell Mitford Archive, at Please join us if you want to learn text encoding methods in Digital Humanities through hands-on participation in a large-scale digital archive project now well underway. We are happy to teach what we know and are learning, and to orient you to coding with hands-on experience on our active project as part of our end-of-May three-day workshop series.
Our workshops are held at the lovely Pitt-Greensburg campus ( during the last week of May 2015. We expect people to arrive on  Wednesday May 27 and depart on Sunday. May 31, with our workshops running during the days from Thursday morning May 28 through Saturday evening May 30. We would like to host a special preliminary session for brand-new editors and coders either on Wednesday evening May 27 or Thursday morning (depending on participants’ travel times).
Please share this message with any researcher potentially interested in learning textual scholarship and paleography, digital scholarly edition work, text encoding, and digital humanities methods, as well as people researching 19th-century literature and culture, women writers, or Mary Russell Mitford. Though we draw our active editors from researchers of 19th-century literature, we hope that all who join the Mitford project (whatever their primary research field) will find good resources for professional scholarly research and publication, and gain beneficial experience for individual projects. Joining our workshop leads to a free first-year membership in the Text Encoding Initiative, the international consortium establishing best practices for encoding of digital texts.

Each year we draw people who are interested in learning to run and manage digital archive projects and to learn TEI XML and related forms of coding. Our workshops are a Coding School, to train our new editors as well as people simply interested in learning to code in order to develop their own projects. We anticipate hosting two kinds of audiences: 1) those who wish to join the Mitford project as active editors, and 2) equally welcome, those who wish to learn our methods to apply them to their own projects. Please note that the second audience must pay a registration fee to participate, but our fee is waived for continuing Digital Mitford editors and those we approve as new editors. More on this below.
  • Discussion of Methods and Best Practices for editing digital scholarly editions, including coding to compare versions of texts (e.g. manuscript vs. print edition of a play or poem)
  • Opportunity to join an active and intensive “dig site” for important data on networks of women writers, theaters, and publishers in the nineteenth century.
  • Hands-on Learning of Text Encoding, including the following:
    • TEI XML encoding and experience with producing editions of manuscripts, especially of letters
    • Autotagging and regular expression matching to prepare texts as code
    • Hands-on experience with XPath, a language to navigate XML, particularly helpful in navigating our site index and complex texts
    • Experience in working with code schemas, to ensure consistency and accuracy for multiple editors on a project
    • The use of XSLT to extract and chart information from TEI markup, and to transform and publish TEI for view on the web.
  • Individual and Group Instruction, working with our own Explanatory Guides and Resources developed by the Principal Editor for her students and for the Mitford team. (See and scroll to Explanatory Guides.)
First, please send me an e-mail (to by Saturday April 11, 2015indicating your interest in the MItford Workshops and in what role you wish to participate.  whether as an Active Editor (or Advisor, or member of the Data Visualization Group) or as a Learner interesting in our text encoding methods but pursuing your own project agenda.
This year, in order to help support the expense of hosting the workshops, we require a registration fee for Learning participants who will not be active editors on the project. The registration fee is waived for ongoing editors and for those whom we approve in advance as new editors on the project. If you wish to join us as a New Editor, we ask you to apply for this position (about which see below). For all others who come to learn our methods, registration fees are as follows:
1) Students, Adjunct Instructors, or Independent Scholars: $60.
2) Full-Time Faculty Members and Librarians: $180.
All registration fees are to be paid by check to the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, and are due by mail by May 15, 2015 Please mail checks to: The Digital Mitford Project, c/o Elisa Beshero-Bondar, U. of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, 150 Finoli Drive, Greensburg, PA 15601-5804. (Donations to the project above and beyond this amount are, of course, quite welcome.)
Please note that these fees are quite competitive with workshop rates at other institutions, such as the DHSI. The difference between our Coding School and alternative workshops is that we provide intensive concentration  on XML-based digital archive development of 19th-century manuscripts and related material–connected with the development of a single project, with a project team engaging with challenging questions for our long-range planning. Our coding school offers concentrated experience with the workflow and decisions of a large and very active digital project, and our editors have developed a collaborative tradition of working together to share in the learning process. Thus, people may come to us expecting to learn about the inner operations of a large project in progress, in order to gain (and share) perspective on collaborative project design and development. We offer a concentrated workshop and think tank, facilitated by our collaborative tradition on the Digital Mitford project..
If you wish to become an Active Editor on the project for the long-term, and are willing to dedicate time and research to the Digital Mitford project beyond our workshop, to help develop digital editions, write editorial annotations and headnotes, research prosopography data; that is, if you are interested in having your name as a researcher be affiliated with the Digital Mitford project as we grow and develop, we ask that you write an application letter indicating your interest in working with us, and responding to the following questions:
  • What draws you to editing Mitford’s letters and literary texts?
  • Which of her texts (or what kinds of texts by Mitford) are you particularly interested in helping with? (Letters, drama, poetry, prose fiction, essays, life-writing…?)
  • The Digital Mitford project is dedicated for the next three years to working on Mitford’s letters and published texts from 1810 – 1825. Please indicate if you have a particular interest in Mitford’s work from this period in your application.

Applications may be written in the body of an e-mail message and addressed to me at by Saturday April 11, 2015The Mitford team will review the applications, and waive the registration fee by late April for those best qualified to join as active editors. Depending on the level of response to the workshop and available accommodation space, applications for Active Editor positions may be competitive.

Our project goals are, as ever,

  • to produce the first comprehensive scholarly edition of the works and letters of Mary Russell Mitford, and
  • to share knowledge of TEI XML and other related humanities computing practices with all serious scholars interested in contributing to this  project.
To read more about the project design and our editing methods, please read our “About the Project” page:

As always, we plan to host workshops at three levels:

1) to orient people new to text encoding, and our new editors, consultants (as well as all interested in learning to code and manage digital archives) to our project. If you’re new to the project, we will need for you to arrive a little earlier than ongoing editors for orientation to XML. We’ll also want a handful of ongoing editors and assistants to help with the first workshops. (Ongoing editors are also always welcome at the early sessions to refresh their coding knowledge.)

2) to bring our current editors, consultants, and advisors up to date on new developments and give us a chance to work together on revising coding guidelines (at )
and discussing editing issues as well as site design and development

3) to bring specialists in data visualization and XML data extraction together to consult and help design effective and readable network graphs, charts, and maps drawn from our prosopography data collected thus far from our coding, and to advise on reading views and site design for our texts.(We’ll find time for these specialists to work on their own, and also to share ideas with the project team).

  • We will cover the costs of residence in suites (with kitchens and good wireless internet) at the Pitt- Greensburg campus and will arrange for licenses for an extended (90-day) period to use our XML editing software <oXygen/>.
  • We cannot cover the costs of travel to Pitt-Greensburg, but we can and do coordinate rides from the Pittsburgh International Airport and the Amtrak train stations in Pittsburgh and in Greensburg.
  • We ask each participant to investigate local funding sources to help cover the costs of travel here. If all else fails, we will happily make it possible for you to attend the workshops through Skype as we have done in previous years, but it’s best if we can all be together in person!
The May 2015 workshops mark the completion of our second full year of project work on Mary Russell Mitford’s letters and literary texts. By the time we convene, we expect to have prepared a substantial “test-bed” of coded TEI XML texts representing a cross section of Mitford’s letters, drama, and prose sketches from the early 1820s, and from which we have already begun assembling an extensive collection of prosopography information, recording at this point around a thousand named entities, including names of people Mitford knew, fictional characters, locations, and publications. Our project is quite young, so the prosopography data we’ve accumulated just scratches the surface of what we’ll be developing in the next few years.  For those interested in data visualizations, we are currently developing informational graphics, including network analysis graphs and digital maps to help orient readers to our project work and Mitford’s significance to 19th-century studies, and our preliminary work is posted here: . For this May’s workshop, our growing collection of TEI files and prosopography data give us a good foundation on which to develop long-range plans for our project development. We look forward to bringing a large group of people together to learn and consult with us and to share ideas as we set our agenda for next year.
Thanks, everyone, for reading and sharing with interested parties! We look forward to seeing many new and familiar faces at beautiful Pitt-Greensburg at the end of May! Please feel free to write me with any questions in advance of our registration and application due date of Sat. April 11.
Elisa Beshero-Bondar, PhD
Principal Editor: Digital Mitford.
Associate Professor of English
University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg
Humanities Division
150 Finoli Drive
Greensburg, PA  15601  USA