Historians On Trial Tagging

Argument for tagging
This case provoked an impassioned debate within the women’s history community, much of which took place publicly in the press and in academic journals. In writing about the case, many historians and journalists conducted rigorous research of the court documents. In fact, the three collections that comprise this exhibit are the result of individuals researching the trial, and their research is characterized by the collecting of court documents and related articles and correspondence.

I think this idea, that this case inspired the amassing of documents that were literal records of the tiral itself, speaks to the greater philosophical questions that the testimonies of Rosenberg and Kessler-Harris projected about the nature of history. Is history a record or an interpretation of the past? What is the role of the historian- to simply recount history, or to use history as a means to a social end, such as employment equality? Should women’s history support the broader women’s movement, and if so, who is to say how it should go about supporting feminist goals? Is practicing the analysis of women’s history alone enough to support feminist aims, or do women historians need to do more? These collections of the "historical proof" of these arguments suggest that there is value in analyzing these documents. The individuals who complied these documents were looking for some truth in them, and I think making them searchable online can allow for new analyses of this case, and perhaps new answers to these questions.

A case involving such philosophical questions is ripe for unpacking, and promises a meaningful interrogation of the theory of history. It is appropriate for many ages and levels of education, and could be used in an introduction to historical theory, an analysis of women's history or labor history, or even legal analysis. I would suggest that the site would be most appropriate for undergraduate to graduate level use. Either way, detailed encoding will allow for a dynamic method of searching the material, encouraging innovative analysis.

Tagging specifics
All text, both transcribed documents and narrative created for the site, will be encoded with XML using TEI P5 guidelines. Encoding material with XML gives the creators of the site stylistic control over the material, and allows users to search the documents in a more effective way than allowed by simple HTML.1 XML tags stylistic elements of the textual document, such as title, speaker/author, type of document, bibliographic information, date, etc.; as well as divisions in the document like paragraph, page, and project specific divisions, which are discussed below. In tagging these elements and divisions, the creators then have the ability to manage the appearance/layout, and the searchability of the material. For example, if a user wanted to search the material by title, the documents would need to have an XML tag of <title> to identify a particular string of characters as a title.

Because many of the documents included in this exhibit are up to 100 pages long, the creators will implement a project specific "chunking" of each document. Chunking breaks text into manageable sections when a user conducts a search. For example, a user searches for the keyword "overtime," and finds that it is appears 22 times in Rosenberg's testimony. The search results will show the reader a list of "chunks" of text (the size of which will determined by the user, who will have the option to choose 10, 5, or 1 page chunks), and the number of times "overtime" appears in each chunk. Hence, the user can easily locate the needed information without searching trough the entire document.

Names, places, publications, etc. will be regularized such that when a user searches for "alice harris," he/she will be directed to results for "kessler-harris, alice."

see added value, encoding for more information on encoding specifics.

Why use TEI?
TEI is more appropriate for this text-based project than other encoding standards/practices, such as Dublin Core, which does not allow for detailed enough metadata, or EAD, which is generally used for archival finding aids. "For projects creating full-text resources, the TEI Guidelines are the predominant choice."2

Sample metadata to be included in header of written testimony of Rosalind Rosenberg

  • document type: court document, written testimony
  • title: written testimony of Dr. Rosalind Rosenberg
  • author: Rosenberg, Rosalind
  • date: date testimony was given
  • collection/repository: Research files of Jon Weiner relating to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Sears, Roebuck and Company, NYU Bobst Tamiment/Wagner Archives
  • link to finding aid
  • copyright: who holds rights
  • LC subject headings: Rosenberg, Rosalind, 1946; Kessler-Harris, Alice; United States— Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — Trials, litigation, etc.; Sears, Roebuck and Company — Trials, litigation, etc.; Sex discrimination in employment — United States; Sex discrimination against women — United States; Women — Employment — United States; Sex discrimination in employment — Law and legislation — United States; Sex discrimination against women — Law and legislation — United States; Equal pay for equal work — United States; Pay equity — United States; Legal documents
  • project specific subjects: Rosenberg, Rosalind, testimony, written testimony, Barnard College, historical interests of women, historical interests of men, professionalism, pay equality, workplace values, family life, commission sales jobs, family responsibilities, traditional socialization, and any publications, organizations, individuals, places, dates, or ideas mentioned in the transcript.
  • record/item ID:

General list of metadata categories that will be encoded in each document
- document type
- date
- publication
- other published works
- author
- other names
- organizations
- places
- LC subject headings
- project specific descriptors
- repository/collection
- copyright
- link to finding aid of collection
- other relevant links
- record/item ID

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