2017 is Canada’s sesquicentenary. In celebration, the federal government has made available a number of grants to help make the world more aware of Canada’s history as well as Canada as the nation we have become. Thanks to the hard work of Carole Gerson (any of you who have filled in a SSHRC grant application will fully appreciate the degree of commitment here), the Canada’s Early Women Writers project received a grant to extend our work.

While the bio-bibliographical database over at CWRC continues to develop, we have added a new, simpler database project. With technical contributions from the Digital Humanities Innovations Lab at Simon Fraser Library, we are building a database of all of the authors that we have identified, regardless of how much—or how little—we know about them. This new database will include authors’ names; alternate names; birth and death dates and places; residences; books written; books, anthologies, collections, and periodicals contributed to; and a note field. The site will include a feedback mechanism, so we will be able to update the data, adding or correcting as necessary. Sometimes all we have is a pseudonym and the fact that the author contributed to the Canadian Poetry Magazine; sometimes that is enough for an interested member of the general public to identify her. And off we go…

In addition to being a repository of disparate but connected gems of data, the database will permit facetted searches. This means that you can find, for example, all of the women who published in The Week magazine and were born in Brantford, Ontario, between 1860 and 1870. Interesting fact (and, obviously, why I chose this example): that would include both Sara Jeannette Duncan and E. Pauline Johnson.

Here is the office announcement of the Canada 150 grant, on the SFU website. Further announcements will be made once the database is available to the public. We’re cleaning up the data now, so it shouldn’t be too long. I hope.

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