Visit The Winnifred Eaton Archive

Project Leads

Mary Chapman, University of British Columbia

Jean Lee Cole, Loyola University Maryland

Joey Takeda, University of British Columbia

Sydney Lines, University of British Columbia

Serina Patterson, University of British Columbia

Project Reviewer

Kristen Lillvis, Marshall University

Project Overview 

Mary Chapman, Jean Lee Cole, and Joey Takeda

The Winnifred Eaton Archive is a research and teaching tool that offers over 200 works by Winnifred Eaton Babcock Reeve (1875-1954). Winnifred Eaton was a popular early Asian North American author, journalist, screenwriter and playwright whose best known works were published under the pen-name Onoto Watanna, a controversial persona that she assumed for over two decades. She was also the sister of Edith Eaton (Sui Sin Far). Drawing on the resources of libraries and special collections from around the world, this digital archive provides freely accessible scans and fully searchable transcriptions of much of Winnifred Eaton’s collected oeuvre. Our goal is to provide a more complete picture of this complex and problematic figure. The archive will expand as Eaton’s known oeuvre expands. It also houses supplemental materials: photographs, reviews, illustrations, a biography, a bibliography, and unpublished manuscripts.

The original Winnifred Eaton Digital Archive was created by Jean Lee Cole (Loyola University Maryland) in 2004 in conjunction with the University of Virginia E-text Center. It contained edited transcriptions of two serialized novels and dozens of periodical publications held in the Winnifred Eaton Reeve Fonds at the University of Calgary and/or discovered by Cole over the previous decade through manual searching. These texts were encoded using the Textual Encoding Initiative P4 schema. These texts are still available in the UVa Text Collection accessible through the University of Virginia Libraries’ VIRGO catalog.

In the Winnifred Eaton Archive’s second phase, Mary Chapman (University of British Columbia), together with her research team in collaboration with Cole, updated Cole’s original archive to conform with the Textual Encoding Initiative P5 schema and added edited encoded transcriptions of dozens of additional periodical publications she discovered, as well as additional manuscripts held in the Winnifred Eaton Reeve Fonds. Chapman also added to the site biographical information, a bibliography, a timeline, a list of pseudonyms, a copy of a film for which Eaton wrote the screenplay, and numerous photographs relevant to Eaton and her family. The aim of the Archive is to provide a full survey of Eaton’s work–its generic and stylistic range, its aesthetic experiment, as well as its often problematic politics.

The Winnifred Eaton Archive is organized into exhibits that roughly correspond to periods in Eaton’s career. These periods overlap chronologically somewhat: Early Experiments features texts written in the 1890s and early 1900s during Eaton’s writing apprenticeship in Montreal and Jamaica, and/or before she had taken up her identity as Onoto Watanna; Playing Japanese collects all texts written on Japanese subjects and themes from 1896 until 1922; New York Years collects texts marking a period of reinvention, from 1901-1916 after the novelty of Eaton’s Japanese romances had faded; Alberta collects texts written about Western ranch country, during her years living off and on in Alberta, roughly from her marriage to Frank Reeve in 1917 until her death in 1954; and finally, In Hollywood collects her screenplays, treatments, extant films, as well as fiction about the movie business written from 1916-1935.

Project Review

Kristen Lillvis

The Winnifred Eaton Archive is an open-access digital scholarly edition with over 200 texts by Winnifred Eaton Babcock Reeve. Directed by Mary Chapman with Senior Consultant Jean Lee Cole, Technical Director Joey Takeda, Project Manager Sydney Lines, and Website Designer Serina Patterson, the Archive provides PDF scans and encoded transcriptions (using the Textual Encoding Initiative P5 schema) of Eaton’s works as well as researched headnotes contextualizing the stories, poems, novels, screenplays, and more. The Archive additionally supplies students, scholars, and community researchers with opportunities for credited or anonymous encoding contributions. All data–including multiple versions of the source XML, stylesheets, and editorial principles–are publicly available via the site’s Github repository. 

Designed to be relevant to students, teachers, and community members, the Winnifred Eaton Archive organizes Eaton’s works into five easy-to-navigate exhibits: “Early Experiments” (1895-1902), “Playing Japanese” (1862-1922), “New York Years” (1901-1916), “Alberta” (1917-1954), and “In Hollywood” (1916-1935). Each exhibit–tied to a chronological, geographical, and thematic phase of Eaton’s career–features a researched introduction with biographical information about the author and, occasionally, details about the Archive’s progress in locating Eaton’s writing from that phase. Visitors to an exhibit can organize the content by title, publication date, or the availability of a transcription. The desktop version of the site also provides clickable thumbnail images of available facsimile pages. 

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Desktop view of “Early Experiments” exhibit page.

After selecting a text via clicking on either the thumbnail or title, visitors gain access to the text’s publication data, credits and citation information, and, when available, a researched headnote, PDF facsimile of the original work, and transcription. Within the entry, clickable links allow access to lists of texts with the same document type or from the same genre, exhibit, or work, enabling visitors to investigate the relationships between texts. Visitors can also explore details from Eaton’s publication history by clicking on the periodical title, which leads to a pop up with a brief description of the periodical and a list of Eaton’s texts published there.

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Desktop view of “Li Ching’s Baby” page within the “Early Experiments” exhibit.

With the five exhibits, the Archive provides students, teachers, and community members the opportunity both to survey Eaton’s works and to investigate particular texts or phases of the author’s oeuvre. Additionally, the Archive offers research opportunities via a detailed biographical timeline (including images) of Eaton’s family’s history, her life, and her career as a writer as well as a list of Eaton’s pseudonyms complete with their number of uses and corresponding texts. The clean, consistent, and largely accessible design of the Archive’s interface aids navigation for researchers at all levels. 

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Mobile view of the Archive’s Biographical Timeline.

In addition to advancing research on Eaton’s works as well as late-nineteenth- and early twentieth-century women’s writing, the Winnifred Eaton Archive serves as a model of ethical digital humanities collaboration. The Archive’s practices are based in openness; the site is open access with open-source code and stylesheets and all content licensed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license. The Archive offers opportunities for open peer review and credits all contributions to the site, whether paid or volunteer. Each page includes credit and citation information, and the Archive’s editorial principles are freely available. Additionally, the Archive is committed to sustainability, with all pages built statically using XHTML5, CSS3, and minimal vanilla JavaScript ES6.

Research for the Winnifred Eaton Archive is supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the University of British Columbia, Loyola University Maryland, and the University of Victoria. 

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