In completing this database, we have had to make some editorial decisions that may seem arbitrary, often resulting from the limited information available to us. The following list will help you to interpret our data correctly.
What data have we included and why?
DoCEWW arises out of the much richer Canada’s Early Women Writers bio-bibliographical project, abbreviated as CEWW. We initially thought we would reach a manageable 1000 authors—more or less—if we limited our selection criteria. Hence we have not sought the names of women who appeared in some specialized publications with highly specific readerships or limited distribution, such as missionary reports, trade magazines, school journals, etc. This database exists because we significantly underestimated the prolific output of early Canadian women writers: even without including these more specialized publications, we discovered almost 5000 women and are prepared to add names from other publications when they come to light.
The dates CEWW (and thus DoCEWW) covers—from the beginning of Canadian women’s authorship up to and including 1950—were limited in part by the amount of research possible in a finite project. The end-date was chosen because the Canadian Writing Research Collaboratory includes another project, Canadian Women Writing and Reading from 1950, run by Dr. Patricia Demers.
DoCEWW includes information that is useful and not overwhelmingly difficult to acquire. Dates and places of birth and death, alternate names, residences, titles produced and contributed to, present a baseline that would be useful in constructing meaningful but simple profiles of individual authors and identifying the possible links between them. Publication dates, along with publishers’ names and places, offer another important route to discovering connections between these women. More complete information for over 750 of these authors can be found in CEWW, the Canada’s Early Women Writers project.
The note field associated with each author or title contains significant information that cannot be easily added to any of the data fields, such as familial relationships or an unusual publication history.
Information about books:
Titles with (n.d.) indicate that there is no date written in the text, although a copy of the book has been located.
The absence of a date indicates that the book did or does exist, but we have not located a copy.
Titles whose existence is uncertain are listed in the Notes field associated with the author.
When a book is published under two titles, or published simultaneously by more than one publisher, the Canadian version will be listed in the Books list. Further information will be found in the Notes field associated with the author.
Circa (“c” in front of a date) indicates that the date is approximate, and is not listed in the book. For titles for which we only know the decade of publication, we have used the date in the middle of the decade, plus or minus five years (189-? is indicated by c1895).
Plays are only listed as titles when they have been published as individual volumes. Unpublished plays are listed in the Notes field associated with the author.
The data in our Periodicals list has been accumulated from a number of sources, some more reliable than others. Care has been taken to verify the information cited, but less effort has been devoted to researching periodicals than authors. This means, unfortunately, that our data regarding periodicals cannot be used for statistical analysis. Rather, the list provides an idea of the scope of our authors’ inclusion in known journals.
Some journal titles do not have a place name associated with them, because either there are too many journals with the same title (Western Home Journal, for example, is the title of at least seven different magazines in Canada and the US) or the title is too generic (Poetry, for example) to identify the publication’s specific location if it was not included in the original data about the author.
Run dates ending in a hyphen (1870-) indicate either that the periodical is still in production, or that we do not know when it ended. Run dates beginning with a hyphen (-1934) indicate a known end date.
The dearth of biographical information for many of these women means that, especially with contributors to periodicals, we cannot guarantee that the authors were Canadian. Our efforts to determine nationality are ongoing.
Terms we use:
Books are any separately published item, including offprints, pamphlets, and chapbooks.
Collections are published volumes that contain works by multiple contributors. These are sometimes anthologies (created by an editor, sometimes without the authors’ knowledge) or books to which the author contributed a chapter, article, introduction, etc.
We have only included collections published before 1950, as they represent the period covered by DoCEWW.
Periodicals are journals, newspapers, and other publications that were produced at regular intervals. These range from daily newspapers to annuals.
We have identified seven genres:
Autobiography: all forms of writing about the author's own life (such as memoirs, diaries, letters, and personal travel writing).
Biography: all biographies of individuals other than the author, regardless of the degree of scholarly detail (such as popular biographies and accounts of historical personalities).
Drama: all titles prepared for presentation in a dramatic forum (such as plays, dialogues, and spoken monologues).
Fiction: all prose writing that is understood to be the invention of the author, regardless of length (such as novels, short stories, and short story collections).
Non-fiction: all writing assumed to be based on fact (such as guidebooks, cookbooks, textbooks, scientific articles, political journalism, and instruction manuals).
Poetry: all items in poetic form, regardless of length.
Uncertain: titles for which the genre is unknown or impossible to determine.
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