A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather: An Expanded, Digital Edition

Andrew Jewell and Janis P. Stout, editors

Introduction to the New Edition

by Andrew Jewell

This expanded, digital edition of A Calendar of the Letters of Willa Cather seeks to build upon the significant achievement of Janis Stout's 2002 print volume by directly responding to one of its inevitable limitations: the inability to grow and accommodate newly-discovered letters written by Cather. In the flexible digital environment, we can continue to add new letter entries as more correspondence comes to light, and we can correct inaccuracies when new information is discovered. For the first publication of this new edition in June 2007, we have added entries for 239 letters, bringing to the total to 2053 entries. In the upcoming months, we will regularly add entries for the other approximately 475 letters known to exist. When currently undiscovered letters emerge in the future, we will add descriptions of those as well. In short, we will maintain the digital edition of the Calendar of Letters so that it can be relied on as a comprehensive guide to Cather's correspondence.

Following standards established by the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI), the digital edition of the Calendar of Letters has been marked up in XML to allow for sophisticated interaction with the content. All addressees, dates, repositories, names, titles, place, and works (including characters) written by Cather have been specially tagged. Such tagging allows for the automated searching and browsing features of the new edition. Additionally, the digital environment allows for a more interactive use of the Biographical Directory; each highlighted name can be clicked on to reveal a thumbnail description of the person and, in many cases, a photograph.

As new letters are added to the Calendar, we will inform people through an announcement on the main page of the Willa Cather Archive. At writing, only the Roscoe and Meta Cather Collection at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, the letters to Louise Burroughs at Drew University, and scattered letters in private hands remain to be included.

To learn more about the legal and scholarly environment that led to the creation of the Calendar, see Janis Stout's Introduction to the Original Edition.