Sister co-authorship combined with cross-references = editorial pretzel

Below, I’ve pasted a Slack conversation between two Stainforth editors working on editing just one of the >1,000 Person records that we have made (one turned into two). I blog this to show the kind of thought, collaborative work, and time that editing person records for women writers requires. Maiden and married names are often a crux of our editorial processes, and authors that publish under both and co-author with sisters or family members that share a name can be especially tricky. The Minifie sisters are a good example of this editorial pretzel. According to Orlando (praise be to Orlando!): “By August 1763 Susannah Minifie (later SG) collaborated with her sister Margaret Minifie in a sentimental epistolary novel, The Histories of Lady Frances S— and Lady Caroline S—: three volumes appeared this year.” Susannah would go on to write many novels on her own (Family Pictures in 1764, Anecdotes of the Delborough Family in 1792, Memories of Mary in 1793, Delves, Love at First Sight, Fashionable Involvements, and her last novel The Heir Apparent in 1802), and poetry like Virginius and Virginia published in 1792. In 1768, Susannah married John Gunning and published later work under her married name. Add to this that her sister, Margaret, and her daughter (and later sister-in-law?!), Elizabeth Gunning, were also published authors, and you have great potential for error in associating transcribed names and titles with person records. I paste our editorial conversation below between myself and my co-editor as we puzzle through this.

Also: I can’t say enough about what Slack has done for our editorial teamwork and problem solving. Editing the Minifie/Gunning entries took research and collaboration, which Slack makes easy to track. We kept our thread in “Authority Research” feed, and I filed the field name problem under a different thread called “fix-these-things”.


scalibrarian Today at 7:05 AM
The Minifie entry (4475) is mistakenly connected to the sister, Susannah Gunning instead of to Margaret, although in the catalog, Stainforth lists SG’s titles. Our person record was created for Margaret and connected to the SG record (4297).  The sisters did co-author, however, our record lumps Miss Minifie, who is Margaret, with the sister, Susannah.  Stainforth seems to have had works by SG.
4 replies
kirstyn  1 hour ago
This sounds like a pretzel! I’m about to take a look at the spread sheet and person data to follow you.
kirstyn  44 minutes ago
I see in the catalog, on p295.17 Stainforth has an entry for “Minifie (Miss) See Gunning”. For names in the catalog, I see a “Miss Gunning” and a “Mrs Gunning” who is Susannah. Both of them have titles in the catalog To make things more pretzel-like, The “Miss Gunning” is Miss Elizabeth Gunning, who was the daughter of Susannah
kirstyn  12 minutes ago
I think this might be a case where the catalog entry on 295.17 is more helpful than the display name in the spreadsheet I gave you. The catalog entry for “A12 Miss Minifie See Gunning” could correspond to either sister, since they both have the maiden name Minifie, and they collaborated on Frances and Caroline, which Stainforth collected, and it also has the matching shelfmark A12 that is in the See reference. It would have been more accurate for Stainforth to write “the Misses Minifie” but of course he did not. So Miss Minifie could be either Margaret or Susannah, since this was their shared maiden name. It would be great if we could also link Susannah Gunning’s person record to the name “Miss Minifie”. I’ll try. Miss MInifie as Margaret is not wrong, since it points to the shelfmark for their coauthored book. (edited)
kirstyn  10 minutes ago
I added co-author as a role to Susannah Gunning’s person record
kirstyn  4 minutes ago
I need to connect this to the transcribed name Miss Minifie, and then we have made all the cross references with all of the person records. This is done through the list of transcribed names (not the person record list). Editorial jujitsu of the Minifries/Gunning is now complete. (edited)
scalibrarian  8 minutes ago

Awesome!  And yes, the Elizabeth Gunning is Susannah’s sister-in-law, to add to the knotted pretzel.

kirstyn  8 minutes ago

kirstyn  7 minutes ago


Here are the updated person records for Miss Minifie and Susannah Gunning. Examining these, I discovered a problem with the field: “transcribed name.” It means “linked transcribed names” but doesn’t have the word “linked” in there; it’s implied, and for most names, the transcribed name looks obviously like the person record name. In the case of Margaret Minifie, it looks like her transcribed name is “Gunning (Mrs)”, which it cannot be, because that’s her sister. So I also discovered a problem to fix with our field names, which is fortunate. Onward –

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