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Biographical and bibliographical information on the book trades
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09 August 2013

Exeter Working Papers data format

Exeter Working Papers : data format designed for a wiki website

This page suggests a plain text format with simple HTML markup which can be used to correct or add data to the historical book trade register. To start with the basic structure, which can be used to download records as source code, amend or add to them and return them as an email attachment:

1. For an individual biographical record:

<!REGIONAL-CODE_>Locality. <B>Family Name, Forename. </B>Dates of activity in that locality. <I>Book trades. </I>Other biographical details. No fixed format as detail available will vary but brief details under the following headings are suggested where easily available. Addresses, variant names and partnerships, Born: Married: Children: Died: Apprenticed: Free: Apprentices: Insurance: Bankrupt: Successors: Imprints: Sources: </P><P>

An example for a ballad seller about whom little is known:

<!E-EN-SUS_>Brighton. <B> Bennett </B>1825-1833. <I>Ballad seller. </I>Edward Street. Probably Edward Bennett, bottle dealer, 22, Edward Street in 1832 directory. Sold publications of J. Catnach of London c. 1825-33 with other provincial distributors: J. Sharman of Cambridge; R. Harris of Salisbury; J. Pierce of Southborough; Boyes of Brighton; Thomas Batchelar of London; W. Marshall of Bristol; W. Inkpen of Lewes. Imprints: 40 items in Bodleian ballads. Broadsides in Madden 10. One item in COPAC: c.1825. Not in BBTI. Sources: Cambridge UL, Madden Coll.</P><P>

This produces the following:

Brighton. Bennett 1825-1833. Ballad seller. Edward Street. Probably Edward Bennett, bottle dealer, 22, Edward Street in 1832 directory. Sold publications of J. Catnach of London c. 1825-33 with other provincial distributors: J. Sharman of Cambridge; R. Harris of Salisbury; J. Pierce of Southborough; Boyes of Brighton; Thomas Batchelar of London; W. Marshall of Bristol; W. Inkpen of Lewes. Imprints: 40 items in Bodleian ballads. Broadsides in Madden 10. One item in COPAC: c.1825. Not in BBTI. Sources: Cambridge UL, Madden Coll.

2. For a bibliographical entry, which may be the first or only evidence of the existence of a firm or individual:

<!REGIONAL-CODE_>Locality. <B>Family Name, Forename. </B>Date of publication. <I>Nature of responsibility. </I>Author, Forename or initials. Title / author statement. - Edition. - Place of publication : Publisher , Date. - Pagination and format. - Notes. - Held by: - Subjects: . </P><P>

An example for an Exeter imprint with a detailed catalogue record available:

<!E-EN-DEV_>Exeter. <B>Brice, Thomas [2]. </B>1791. <I>Printer. </I>Kenrick, Timothy. The spirit of persecutors exemplified; and the conduct to be observed towards their descendants. A sermon delivered at George's Meeting-House, Exeter, November 5th, 1791. To which are prefixed, some observations upon the causes of the late riots at Birmingham. By T.Kenrick. - Exeter ; Printed by T.Brice; and sold by J.Johnson, St. Paul's Church-Yard, London , [1791]. - xvi,30p ; 8°. - Plymouth Athenaeum catalogue: p.94. - Held by: Devon Record Office: 4404addD/97 ; Bodleian Library, Oxford: G.Pamph 1016 (10). Subjects: Exeter. Nonconformist chapels. George's Meeting. Sermons. 1791.

This produces the following:

Exeter. Brice, Thomas [2]. 1791. Printer. Kenrick, Timothy. The spirit of persecutors exemplified; and the conduct to be observed towards their descendants. A sermon delivered at George's Meeting-House, Exeter, November 5th, 1791. To which are prefixed, some observations upon the causes of the late riots at Birmingham. By T.Kenrick. - Exeter ; Printed by T.Brice; and sold by J.Johnson, St. Paul's Church-Yard, London , [1791]. - xvi,30p ; 8°. - Plymouth Athenaeum catalogue: p.94. - Held by: Devon Record Office: 4404addD/97 ; Bodleian Library, Oxford: G.Pamph 1016 (10).

The regional code is used for sorting the records within countries and counties or regions and is not displayed.

The aim of these formats is to provide a structure for data that can be used on databases and as plain text files, regardless of the software platforms. Wherever possible I work through basic text editors such as Notepad, as other software delights in introducing a wealth of unnecessary coding. As for the structure I have arrived at the blatently obvious after much trial and error and blind alleys. My inspiration is Rudyard Kipling’s poem:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who

This gives a record structure of six fields:


1. WherePlaceGrouped with codes for continent, country and for some countries, region.
2. WhoNameSurname first. Also partnerships and institutions.
3. WhenDates of activityRather than biographical dates, which are not always known.
4. WhyBook trades Non-book trades can follow, perhaps after “; also”.
5. WhatBiographical detailsUnstructured, but suggested elements below.
6. HowSources.Will require standardisation.

There are two formats to meet the requirements:

1. Plain text with simple HTML markup. This uses HTML coding that separates the data fields (columns) and presents the data on web pages in an intelligible form, suppressing any visible coding. The accuracy of coding can be ascertained as work progresses by refreshing the web page and checking the emboldening and italicisation.

2. Delimited format for conversion to database. This includes field delimiters and a brief identifier to start each field. I use | as a field delimiter for this format.


Field HTML Database
0. Region </P><P> [New line]<!HTML comment>
1. Place _ |PL:
2. Name <B> |NA:
3. Dates of activity </B> |FL:
4. Book trades <I> |TR:
5. Biographical details
Imprint record
</I> |CV:
6. Sources
Holding library
Sources:
Held by:
|SR:

As <I> is used for the field delimiter <EM> must be used if italicising the titles of imprints noted in field 5. Blocks of data can be converted from one format to another by a series of seven find and replace actions. An example of the three formats in use, taken from the listing below:

For field 5 (biographical or imprint details) no standard structure is possible as the available content is so varied, but the following order of presentation forms a possible structure:


FieldText startHTML tagsFor database
51. Addresses: |AT: </I> |AT:
52. Trading as: |AS: <B>Trading as: </B> |AS:
531. Born: |B: <B>Born: </B> |B:
532. Married: |M: <B>Married: </B> |M:
533. Children: |FA: <B>Family: </B> |FA:
534. Died: |D: <B>Died: </B> |D:
541. Apprenticed: |AP: <B>Apprenticed: </B> |AP:
542. Free: |FR: <B>Free: </B> |FR:
543. Apprentices: |AR: <B>Apprentices: </B> |AR:
55. Insurance|IN: <B>Insurance: </B> |IN:
56. Bankrupt|BA: <B>Bankrupt: </B> |BA:
57. Successors|S: <B>Successors: </B> |S:
58. Imprints|I: <B>Imprints: </B> |I:

Imprint data can be accommodated in this format if the main interest is the printer or publisher as opposed to the author. I plan to experiment with this in my bibliography of Devon printed books. More than one entry would be required for works produced in partnership:


FieldTextHTMLDatabase
0. Region [Enter] </P><P> [Enter]
1. Place of publication__|PL:
2. Printer or publisher#<B> |NA:
3. Date of publication{</B> |FL:
4. Title}<I> or <EM> |TR:
5. Other details^</I> or </EM> |CV:
6. Sources$<B>Sources: </B> |SR:

The sources field will refer to a bibliography or holding library. The title details can be structured in a similar way to the biographical details. The following has not yet been adopted by me but is based on practice in the former Westcountry Studies Library in Exeter and markup codes used in COPAC.


FieldTag
51. Author|AU:
52. Title|TI:
53. Edition|ED:
54. Publisher (Imprint)|PU:
55. Publication year|PY:
56. Format|PD:
57. Series|SE:
58. Notes|NT:
59. Subject fieldsKW
591. Region|KR:
592. Place|KP:
593. Subject|KS:
594. Name|KN:
595. Aspect|KA:
596. Date 1|K1:
597. Date 2|K2:

Copyright © Ian Maxted 2013
This page last revised 1 January 2015