WEMLO: Project & Resource Portal to Women’s Letters

The WEMLO Project


Folger_MS_X.d.428.122 (Folger Shakespeare Library)

WEMLO is a project created initially with British Academy/Leverhulme-funding to support researchers of early modern women letter writers. This site provides a scholarly meeting place for such researchers and offers an array of resources, including bibliographies, links to related resources, an image gallery of female letter writers, calls for papers, news, and a blog where scholars can communicate with each other about their work. The project also holds workshops that encourage scholarship in the area of early modern women’s epistolary culture.

The Resource Portal to Women’s Letters

The community hub you find here offers a resource portal to early modern women’s letters hosted in the union catalogue, EMLO (Early Modern Letters Online), which was created by the University of Oxford’s Mellon-funded ‘Cultures of Knowledge’ project.

Cyrtanthus elatus, Robert Jacob Gordon, 1777-86

Cyrtanthus elatus, Robert Jacob Gordon, 1777-86 (Rijksmuseum)

The WEMLO catalogue within EMLO was inspired by a collaboration between Professor James Daybell (Plymouth University), who has conducted significant archival research on Elizabethan women’s correspondence in collections around the world, and Dr. Kim McLean-Fiander (University of Oxford and University of Victoria), a scholar of early modern women and the first editor of EMLO.

Their curated metadata on thousands of early modern women’s letters (c. 1400-1700) forms the basis of a general WEMLO catalogue that will be hosted alongside a rapidly expanding number of individual women’s correspondence catalogues within EMLO.

Introductory pages for each WEMLO sub-catalogue, including biographical information of the early modern women and their networks, details of the scholars who have contributed the metadata and worked on the letters, the content and provenance of the letters (for example, the date ranges of correspondences, the languages used, and subject matter), images, and links to additional resources will be displayed within EMLO and linked to from this WEMLO project website. Early modern women, whether letter senders, recipients, carriers, or simply individuals mentioned in the texts themselves, will be searchable both in gender-filtered searches or across the entire EMLO union catalogue as a whole.

Each letter record includes, where available, a minimum of the following seven pieces of metadata:

  • sender
  • recipient
  • date
  • place of origin
  • destination
  • shelfmark
  • repository

The catalogue has the in-built capacity to include in addition even richer details, such as the following:

  • abstracts
  • keywords
  • images
  • transcriptions
  • postage marks
  • endorsements
  • enclosures
  • seals
  • paper size
  • paper type
  • number of pages
  • links to related resources online
  • printed edition details

Once the WEMLO portal has been created, details of it will be set out here. For the time being, you can link directly to EMLO or, search here http://emlo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/forms/advanced?people_gend=female  for all women’s correspondence currently within the EMLO union catalogue.