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EMROC Fall Transcribathon Set for November 17

This Fall, EMROC is delighted to be partnering once again with Wellcome Collection and the Royal College of Physicians for its annual transcribathon, set for November 17. Come join us to explore early modern recipes of all kinds. Everyone is welcome — no experience necessary!

Beauty By the Books will be our theme this year. We’ll be paying special attention to the cosmetic recipes in two manuscripts, exploring what they can tell us about early modern ideas of how skin care and hair dressing overlapped with ideas of health. There will be plenty of culinary recipes along the way as well!

Manuscripts: This year, we’ll be transcribing two books without known owners: MS.4054, a Wellcome Collection manuscript dating from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and an eighteenth century collection MS.504,  from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) in London. The Folger will be providing support via the FromthePage transcription interface. More details on how to transcribe will be available at our Transcribathon Central page are here!

PDF Version

Events:

Friday, 17 November: Transcribing events all day, including: 

  • 1pm GMT/ 8am EST/ 5am PST: Live transcribing, with conversations and questions in our live Zoom Room
  • 3pm GMT/10am EST/ 7am PST: Zoom discussion facilitated by Gail Chapman from the Royal College of Physicians. The speakers will include: 
    • Professor Jill Burke, author of ‘How to be a Renaissance Woman
    • Julia Nurse, a collections research specialist at Wellcome Collection
    • Pamela Forde, archive manager at the Royal College of Physicians.  
  • 5pm-8 pm GMT/ 12-3 pm EST/ 9 am-noon PST: Conversations and questions in our live  North American Teams Room.

AVAILABLE ONLINE: Talks from Tuesday, 14 November:

A recording of the  online discussion, Recipes for Early Modern Beauty, hosted by Wellcome Collection can be accessed here.

Patricia Akhimie, Director of the Folger Institute at the Folger Shakespeare Library, will facilitate a discussion featuring three scholars:

  • Professor Jill Burke, author of ‘How to be a Renaissance Woman
  • Hayley O’Kell will talk about Iberian women’s addiction to eating fired clay, a beauty fad that captured the attention of some of the period’s most famous artists and writers.   
  • Dr Romana Sammern will discuss the connections between early modern beauty, art and artefacts – reflecting on what objects like toilet boxes and ointment jars can tell us about beauty cultures.  

Surveying Recipes at RSA

By Mackie Black

At this year’s Renaissance Society of America’s Annual Conference, recipes found their way onto a range of panels and roundtables

Starting off strong, EMROC’s own Margaret Simon (North Carolina State University) brought recipes to “The Early Modern Archive After Derrida II” roundtable with a focus on the 2021 Transcribathon manuscript, Lady Sedley’s Recipe Book from the Royal College of Physicians. Her paper focused on the gendered divide between the humanities study of archives and archives themselves, that transcription and retranscription calls into question the idea of a final version, the ambiguous identity of Lady Sedley, and how the digitization of manuscripts cannot solve mysteries like this one but can only bring them into view.

The next day saw another of EMROC’s own, Hillary M. Nunn (The University of Akron), bring late 17th Century American colonial recipes to the panel “Identity Abroad: The Public Lives of Women Away from Home.” Her paper focused on how recipes functioned to preserve Englishness in the American colonies with notice of Frances Culpeper’s recipe book and the preservation impulse characteristic of recipe books of this time and place. Her paper included a look at recipes for Dr. Stevens’s Water and its preservation properties brought over from England with Gervase Markham’s The English Huswife.

Later in the day, recipes featured in my own work presented on the “Feminist Digital Thinking II: Early Modern Methods and Practices” roundtable. I presented on The Receipt Book of Margaret Baker (Folger MS v.a.619) with its possible abortifacient recipes and how my work in finding this and similar recipes has revealed the need for reimagining the digital archive to better accommodate female voices. While not directly about recipes, Christopher Warren (Carnegie Mellon University) presented in the paired roundtable “Feminist Digital Thinking I: Early Modern Data and Archives” about his work on fragmented type. His paper used the logic of the Early Modern kitchen, particularly in the idea of mincing, to argue the conception of kitchen labor as a production of Big Data in its opposite.

Recipes also featured on the closing day in both the panel “Alchemy and Experimentation in Florence and London” and the roundtable “Early Modern Women and Their Books II.” Margaret Maurer (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) presented on Charles Butler’s The Feminine Monarchie (1609) beekeeping manual. She argued that Butler copied and revised several recipes from John Hester’s The Key of Philosophie (1596) in a way that shows an ongoing engagement with alchemical experience, observation, and experimentation. Both Danielle Clarke (University College Dublin) and Erin McCarthy (University of Galway) focused on the women who owned recipe books. Danielle Clarke’s paper thought through how non-print books put women in the literary circles of the period by looking at several manuscripts including Dorothy Parson’s Recipe Book. Erin McCarthy focused heavily on Folger MS E.a.1, questioning the term miscellany and what we do with books like this manuscript that don’t neatly fit into archival categories.

Whether it be through directly thinking with and about women or using arguably women’s logic to think through problems of the Early Modern scholar, the role of women through recipes in both the Early Modern period and in today’s libraries and archives was perhaps one of the most common threads running through many of these papers. Recipes at RSA acted as an entrance to and a framework for thinking about women in the Early Modern period and in today’s scholarship.

Other presenters may have discussed recipes on panels I was unable to attend. If this applies to your presentation or you know of others, please get in touch with EMROC so we can catch up on this work as well!

EMROC at 10: A Real Group Effort

As incredible as it feels to be marking EMROC’s tenth year, it’s even more overwhelming to consider the many people who have come together to make this project of recipe transcription happen. Originally, we had planned to name these people in the Early Modern Studies Journal’s account of EMROC’s work, but it quickly became apparent that there was not nearly enough room for that. Instead, we’ve made a very, very long web page on which we can begin to record the names of those whose contributions have gotten EMROC off the ground, and kept it going.

Without the active cooperation of libraries, this project could never have actually started. Heather Wolfe, Curator of Manuscripts at the Folger Shakespeare Library, has made so much of EMROC possible with her dedication to both teaching paleography and making manuscripts searchable. Folger folks past and present – especially Owen Williams, Mike Poston, Eric Johnson, Paul Dingman, Sarah Powell, and Emily Wahl – have stepped in time after time to make encoding smoother, before, during, and after Transcribathons. And the Folger’s docents have adopted recipe transcription as an ongoing project, much to EMROC’s benefit. More recently, we have been lucky to work with Julia Nurse, Elma Brenner, and Caroline Butten at the Wellcome Collection, as well as Pamela Forde and Gail Chapman at the Royal College of Physicians. And Kathryn Harvey at the McLaughlin Library, University of Guelph was among the first to host EMROC on the road.

EMROC has long thought of transcription as a project fit for students and multiple levels, and we have grown thanks to their work. We are particularly lucky to have had the following instructors and students involved in EMROC projects: Liza Blake and students at University of Toronto; David Goldstein and students at York University (Canada); Ian MacInnes and students at Albion College; Marissa Nicosia at Penn State Abington; Nancy Simpson-Younger and students at Pacific Lutheran University; Rob Wakeman and students at Mount Saint Mary College (especially Tori Kuhr) and The University of South Florida; Emma Marshall, Grace Murray and students at The Centre for Renaissance and Early Modern Studies at The University of York (UK). Along the way, there have been other satellite groups during our transcribathons at places like The Newberry Library, The Huntingdon Library, Stanford University, and more.

And of course the many students that have transcribed with Steering Committed members at The University of Texas Arlington, The UNC Charlotte, North Carolina State University, The University of Colorado Colorado Springs, The University of Akron, The University of Essex, and The University of Saskatchewan.

In particular, the Steering Committee would like to thank our Research Assistants and Placements Daniel Glombitza, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science; Monterey Hall, University of Colorado Colorado Springs; Julia Jaegle, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science; and Katrina Rutz, University of Colorado Colorado Springs; Catilin Walsh, University College London; Jessie Foreman, University of Essex; and Chiara Leon-Briones, University of Essex. And we would be remiss if we didn’t note the contributions of the following students (many now graduated!): Samantha Snively, Joul Smith, Brianne Weber, Erin Spinney, and Jennifer Caro-Barnes. 

Much appreciation, too, goes to our Advisory Board:

  • Rebecca Bushnell, School of Arts and Sciences Board of Overseers Professor of English, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Michelle DiMeo, Curator of Digital Collections, The Chemical Heritage Foundation.
  • Patricia Fumerton, Professor of English, University of California, Santa Barbara, founder and director of the English Ballad Broadside Archive.
  • Janelle Jenstad, Associate Professor of English, General Editor and Director of The Map of Early Modern London
  • Stephen Schmidt, Food Historian, principal researcher and writer for The Manuscript Cookbooks Survey
  • Anne Stobart, Clinical Herbal Practitioner, Honorary Fellow at the University of Exeter
  • Georgianna Ziegler, Associate Librarian and Head of Reference Emerita, Folger Shakespeare Library.

And of course, we’d like to think the three founding Steering Committee members who have since taken up different roles in EMROC: Michelle DiMeo, Rebecca Laroche, and Amy Tigner

EMROC is truly a crowd-sourced effort, with over a thousand transcribers contributing their time to transcription. None of EMROC’s work would be possible without the work of these people, and many others who have pitched in with transcription efforts. Who knows how many more might be involved in the years to come! 



Ready, Set, Transcribe!

Today will full of fantastic Transcribathon events, with talks and Zoom Rooms. And we’ll be transcribing all day, so come join us! If you want to connect via Twitter, we’ll be at #EMROCtranscribes as well as #EMROCis 10.

Click Here to Start Transcribing

Drop in check out one (or more!) of our events:

  • 7 AM EDT/ 4 AM PDT / 11 AM GMT: Transcription Begins! We’ll start the day out tweeting about what we find in the manuscript, and with tips for getting going.  Get ready to transcribe here. Join us with the hashtags #EMROCTranscribes and #EMROCis10
  • 11 AM EDT / 8 AM PDT / 3 PM GMT: Live Q&A with presenting scholars via Zoom link, available via the Wellcome Eventbrite page.
  • 3 PM EST / 12 PM PDT/ 7 PM GMT:  Zoom Room closes 

Getting Ready for the Transcribathon!

It’s nearly #EMROCtranscribes day! I hope you’ve had a chance to listen to the introduction to Mary Hawker’s book and our wonderful speakers (Rachel Rich, Edith Snook and Tim Underhill), who bring some fascinating insights into working with recipes and recipe books. (Links to the recorded talks and registration for the speaker Q&A can be found in our previous post.)

In case you missed it, we also have a page that outlines how you can prepare for the transcribathon — such as setting up a FromThePage account or finding the sign-up for each page. The actual texts won’t open for transcription, however, until we kick things off at 11:00 GMT/7:00 EST on 4 November. The countdown is beginning…

One other thing that you could do, if you were so inclined, is to answer a little survey (no more than five minutes) so we can get a sense of our community members and your interests — it helps us to understand what you’re looking for in our transcribathons. Thank you!

We can’t wait to talk transcribing with you on Friday!