Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

A web service is not just a website providing specific information. It offers a technical interface with which other programs or web applications can query data. Such a technical interface (or specifically an API: “Application Programming Interface”) is exactly what correspSearch offers.

No. Only the metadata of the correspondence is necessary in order for an edition or project to participate. This should include the letter’s sender, addressee, writing location, location sent, and the relevant dates.

Yes, definitely! A large number of letter editions are available only in print, and with the help of correspSearch we want to facilitate research with these editions as well. In the case of a printed edition a digital index (CMI format) is created manually and made available online. The publication is referenced with the help of bibliographical information and the letter’s ID number.

Yes, definitely! We also want to include smaller scholarly editions or individually edited letters. The only requirement is that the letter has been published (print or online). An example of a smaller collection already participating in correspSearch is the scholarly edition "Fanny Lewald to Hermann Hettner".

No. You just need to provide an index in CMI format. This has no effect on the TEI-XML of the edition.

License For The Digital letter Index

CC-BY 4.0 is short for the Creative Commons license ‘Attribution 4.0’. Creative Commons licenses are standardized licenses for texts and other content, which allow a creator to make his or her content available for subsequent use in a clear and uncomplicated way. The License CC-BY allows one to share and adapt your licensed work (i.e. the CMI file).

The web service does not just offer a website for research, but also a technical interface. It is thus possible for other programs and web applications to automatically query and utilize the accumulated letter indexes for further research. The results of such a query could for instance be integrated into another digital edition’s project. This means that another digital edition could reference your edition or offer links to your letters. For this kind of interconnectivity it is legally necessary that the license allows for the data’s further dispersion and new compilation.

No. The CC-BY 4.0 license that you provide refers only to the digital letter index, which contains only metadata and nothing else.

Technical Questions About The Digital Letter Index

The digital letter index of your digital or print edition should be publically available on the website of your project. Decentralized data is a fundamental principle of correspSearch and in addition it allows you to quickly and simply make corrections or additions to your index. If it is not possible to make your index available online, please contact us.

Yes. The digital letter index should be kept on your project’s website and you can alter it there at any time. The web service correspSearch regularly retrieves your digital index using your URL, thus routinely incorporates any changes.

"Correspondence Metadata Interchange" Format

“correspDesc” refers to the XML elements from the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) guidelines, with which one describes the communication of a letter, postcard, etc in the header of a TEI-XML file. The ‘Correspondence Metadata Interchange’ format however determines the entire structure of a TEI-XML file, and creates a letter index of an edition or collection of letters. Elements of correspDesc are used in the CMI format, although in a restricted and reduced way. The CMI format is not a part of the official TEI guidelines, yet it is developed and recommended from the TEI Correspondence SIG.

The creator of the digital letter index is documented under teiHeader//publisher. When using other letter indexes the name should be recorded as defined by the creative commons license CC-BY 4.0.

Yes. We provide a template that also offers commentary for the TEI-XML elements that are to be included: CMI Template

Authority Files

Authority files are a way to record terms in a standardized way. They are usually determined by national libraries and include categories such as persons, places, and things. Through an authority file the individual name receives a unique identifier. Thus the authority file of the German Libraries, called the the ‘Intigrated Authority File’ (Gemeinsam Normdatei) has given Johann Wolfgang von Goethe the identification number http://d-nb.info/gnd/118540238. With this identification number it is possible to identify persons, places, etc., independently of a specific project or edition.

Names can have spelling variations or be ambiguous (such as ‘John Smith’) and are only correctly identifiable when further information is provided. Authority files offer an immediate and correct identification. Only through such a system is it possible to find persons in a consistent and reliable manner that overarches multiple edition projects.

Yes, definitely! It is normal not to find an authority file for every person. These are usually persons that are not well known and who do not make an appearance elsewhere. Despite these missing identifiers you should still make your letter index publically accessible. Researchers do not just search for letters written by a certain person, but also for those that were, for example, sent from a certain place or from a certain time period.

The web service supports in addition to the ‘Virtual International Authority File’ (VIAF) multiple other national authority control systems:

  • GND: Gemeinsame Normdatei der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek
  • BNF: Autorités der Bibliothèque nationale de France (BNF)
  • LC: Library of Congress
  • NDL: National Diet Library, Japan

We are happy to integrate support for new authority control systems (when technically possible). Please contact us if this is the case for your project.

You didn't find an answer?

You didn't find an answer to your question? You can post your question on the mailing list of the TEI Correspondence SIG. This allows other interested scholars to contribute to the discussion.

Of course, you can also contact us directly via e-mail (especially if you want too report bugs).