The James Madison Carpenter Collection Online Catalogue

About this Project

Photo of the Mummers (Bampton)

The Mummers (Bampton)
The James Madison Carpenter Collection, Archive of Folk Culture, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress,
AFC 1972/001 Photo 006

Reproduced with permission

Technical Information
Project Staff


This project forms the first phase of a larger project to publish the James Madison Carpenter Collection in a scholarly edition and to produce a biography of Carpenter. The raw materials of Series I of the Collection have also been digitised as images by the Library of Congress as part of the Save Our Sounds: America's Recorded Sound Heritage Project. It is planned to produce a revised and expanded edition of the online catalogue with the capacity to link directly to the relevant images from the Collection when the appropriate permissions for the online publication of the Collection have been obtained.

There are currently three versions of the catalogue, version 1.0 (2003), version 1.1 (2006) and version 1.2 (2008). The changes in each version are described in About the Catalogue.


Version 1.0 of the catalogue has been made possible by funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Board, with additional support from the School of English, the National Centre for English Cultural Tradition, the Humanities Research Institute, and the Humanities Research Fund, University of Sheffield.

The additions found in versions 1.1 and 1.2 of the catalogue have been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board (Name Authority File) and the British Academy (cylinder and disc entries).

Technical Information

This catalogue of the James Madison Carpenter Collection has been prepared using XML (eXtensible Markup Language), a platform-independent standard for data exchange supported by the W3C . More specifically, this project uses the Encoded Archival Description (EAD) Document Type Definition (DTD), version 1.0 developed by the Society of American Archivists. EAD comprises a set of tags or data labels and rules for their use in encoding documents which assist researchers in locating archival materials. For further information on EAD see the EAD homepage at the Library of Congress.

Thus the information contained in this catalogue has been entered as simple text enclosed in tags or labels. For example, a title might look like this:

<title>Bonny Barbara Allen</title>

As in the example, tag names are enclosed in the less-than and greater-than characters. The DTD specifies rules for which tags can appear in particular places in the document, and other details. In practical terms this has meant that six cataloguers working in Sheffield, Aberdeen, Manchester and London (UK) and Minneapolis (USA) have been able to collaborate on this project, exchanging data over the Internet. Most of the team members have used XMetaL, XML-authoring software developed by Softquad which has subsequently been taken over by Corel. In particular this team’s efforts have utilised macros written to facilitate the speedy and accurate data entry of over 12,000 items. Questions about the encoding process may be addressed to the team member responsible for technical implementation, Robert Young Walser.

In addition to the data encoded using EAD, the team has developed additional XML data files, a Name Authority File to facilitate control of the various personal name spellings and to serve as a repository for information gathered about contributors to the Carpenter Collection. A further Placename Authority File has been created to allow cross-references between place-names and boundaries in use during Carpenter’s time in Britain and to identify localities through the use of Ordnance Survey coordinates.

The search facility on this site has been developed by Jamie McLaughlin at the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Sheffield using eXist, open-source XML software.

Project Staff

University of Sheffield

  • Julia C. Bishop (Project Director)
  • Robert Young Walser (Research Fellow and Technical Consultant)
  • David Atkinson (Research Fellow)
  • Elaine Bradtke (Research Fellow)
  • Eddie Cass (Research Fellow)

University of Aberdeen
  • Ian Russell (Assistant Director)
  • Thomas A. McKean (Research Fellow)

  • Michael Heaney (Bodleian Library, Oxford)
  • Steve Roud


We gratefully acknowledge the help of the following individuals and organisations:

  • Alan Jabbour, former Director of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, and the person who traced Carpenter and acquired the Collection from him in 1972; Malcolm Taylor, Librarian, Vaughan Williams Memorial Library, London; Margaret Mackay, Director of Archives, School of Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh; Vic Gammon, Senior Lecturer, School of Music, University of Leeds; and Joseph Harris, Professor in the English Department, Harvard; for their vigorous and unstinting support for all work concerning Carpenter and the Carpenter Collection.

  • Peggy Bulger, Director of the American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, and American Folklife Center staff, particularly Jennifer Cutting, Michael Taft and Marcia K. Segal, for their unstinting support and friendly collaboration on every aspect of the project.

  • The Humanities Research Institute, especially the support and technical assistance of David Shepherd, Mark Greengrass, David Luscombe, Jamie McLaughlin, Katherine Rogers and Christiane Meckseper.

  • Carl Fleischhauer, Technical Coordinator for the Office of Strategic Initiatives, Library of Congress, and a number of his colleagues, for their assistance in connection with the relationship between the online catalogue and the digitised images of the Carpenter Collection.

  • Paul Smith, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Michael Preston, University of Colorado, and Christopher Cawte, for their pioneering efforts on the Carpenter Collection.

  • The family of James Madison Carpenter, especially his niece, Marjorie Waters, for their personal interest and encouragement in the project.

  • David Bartholomew, Douglas P. Kingston III, Robin Wiltshire, Ruth Gunstone, Carlo de Vita and Jean Alexander, for invaluable assistance with various facets of the project, and Janet Topp-Fargion, Curator of the International Music Collection, British Library Sound Archive, for her assistance and advice in relation to the sound recordings.

  • John Widdowson and Joan Beal, for providing space at the National Centre for English Cultural Tradition for the administration of the project (catalogue version 1.0); Ian Russell and Alison Sharman, for providing space for meetings and clerical support for the project (catalogue versions 1.1 and 1.2) at the Elphinstone Institute, University of Aberdeen, and Ian and Norma Russell for their hospitality in Aberdeen.

  • Various faculty and staff at the University of Sheffield, especially Michael Pidd and Michael Hannon, both formerly of the Humanities Research Institute, Sally Shuttleworth of the Department of English Literature, and Nigel Williamson, of the Corporate Information and Computing Service, for advice on the project in the early stages of its conception.

With regard to the revised Name Authority File in version 1.1 of the catalogue, we also gratefully acknowledge the help of the following individuals and organizations:

  • Scottish birth, death, marriage and census data reproduced with the kind permission of the Registrar General for Scotland.

  • The descendants of contributors who have so generously and willingly shared their family stories, recollections, photographs and other family documents with us.

  • Katherine Campbell, University of Edinburgh, for sharing the results of her research into the contributors to the Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection.

  • Staff at Special Libraries and Archives, University of Aberdeen.

©2003 - 2008 The University of Sheffield