CBW began as an exhaustive, annotated bibliography amassed through original research by Professor Alison Booth and graduate students at the University of Virginia. The digitization of that bibliography has allowed for the creation of a relational database interconnecting data about the women and men featured in the biographical narratives, the biographers, editors, and publishers of the collections, and the books and narratives themselves. In addition, CBW has become a narrative analysis project: under Booth’s supervision, expert readers are examining digitized texts and performing stand-aside markup to uncover the narrative technique and structure of these stories. Recently, CBW has partnered with Social Networks and Archival Contexts (SNAC) to integrate and share person records. As part of this SNAC partnership, CBW’s latest venture is to develop a prototype tool for identifying, storing, and researching cohorts of women connected in what Booth calls “documentary social networks.”

What Is CBW?

What this project is...and is not:

It is: a feminist literary study
but it's not a study of women writers of poetry or fiction

CBW is a tool for studying the history of women of all occupations, insofar as their lives were narrated in print. Women writers are frequent subjects in published collections of biographies after 1750. Presenters were more often men than women.

It is: a study of narratives about real lives
but it's not a study of autobiographies or memoirs by women

It is: a textual project involving teams of editors in XML markup but it's not an online edition of a canonical author or corpus
We document trends in telling these women's lives rather than striving for authoritative editions.