HomeCourse Procedures & MaterialsItem Assignment & Worksheet

Item Assignment & Worksheet


English 202-004


Item Assignment & Worksheet


This file incorporates both the requirements for each of your four Omeka items, and a worksheet to use when creating those items.  Before creating an item in Omeka, please save a copy of this worksheet in a file named according to the following convention [lastname][firstinitial][initial(s) of text with which the item is associated – CT, L, HM, or CP] (so, if I were creating a Charlotte Temple item, I would name the file SaundersCCT).  If you’re creating more than one item associated with a text, make additional copies, and add a number after the title abbreviations (SaundersCCT1, SaundersCCT2, etc.).  Then fill out the fields in the middle column of the chart that begins on page 2, following the detailed instructions in the right-hand column.  Once you have completed the worksheet (and are satisfied that you have fulfilled all the requirements described below and in the right-hand column of the worksheet),  transfer the information to the corresponding fields of an item you create on the class Omeka site.  Finally, after the item has been created and you are satisfied with it, upload the worksheet file to the appropriate turn-in on Bb (this gives us a backup for the Omeka items, lets me know that you consider the item ready for grading, and allows me to use a Bb rubric to do the grading, and provide feedback to you).  If you’ve created more than one item for a particular text, upload the worksheet for the item you feel is strongest; this will probably rely primarily on the relevance of the item, and the degree of detail you’ve provided in your discussion in the “description” field. 



Item Requirements


Each item in the class Omeka site will be based on a primary source: a document, image, or other cultural artifact which was created during approximately the same time period as the core text to which it is related, which can be represented in digital form, and which helps us to understand some aspect of the core text (usually, given the themes of the course, cultural associations with a space or place mentioned in that text).   The primary source will be uploaded as a file associated with the item, and, in the description field of the item’s Dublin Core metadata, you will both summarize/describe the item itself, and explain how the primary source helps us to place the core text in a cultural context.  In addition, you’ll use the author, title, and, especially, the source fields to provide information about when and where the source was originally created and published/distributed, where it was archived, and how you accessed it.  For more detail about what needs to be included in each field, see the right-hand column of the worksheet below. 


As noted on the syllabus, for the most part you will not be using secondary sources (critical or reference works written closer to the present day than to the time period under investigation, which parallel rather than serve as evidence for your own investigation) in this class, and secondary sources may not serve as the primary basis for an item. You may, however, make brief reference to them in the “description” field, as long as you provide a full citation; see directions for the “description’ field for details. 


Once each member of your group has created at least one item, you’ll write additional introductory/overview text to connect the items to each other, to the particular space/place you are investigating, and to the core text.  See the exhibit assignment and worksheet for more information about this second stage in the process. 



Fields that must be filled out are starred

Dublin Core





If the original item has a title, the entry in this field should match that title exactly.


If the title of the original item is generic, with a subtitle that more accurately describes the contents, you may put a colon after the title, and include the subtitle (so, for an obituary of Susanna Rowson that appears in a generically-title obituary column, with a subheading for each decedent, you might enter “Obituary: Mrs. Rowson” in the title field). 


If there is no title, supply a brief descriptive title in square brackets.


If the actual title is not as descriptive as you’d like, you may also use square brackets to add a more descriptive one (so, for instance, for an advertisement for a women’s school titled “Attention!!! Young Ladies,” you might put “Attention!!! Young Ladies [advertisement for women’s school]” in the title field. 


If the item is an excerpt from a larger work, put “excerpt” in square brackets after the title of the whole work.  If you are creating a series of items which are excerpts from the same work (most likely if you’re dealing with a text which is quite long or still in copyright), you may number the excerpts to create unique item titles ([excerpt #1], [excerpt #2], etc.). 



The author of the work, exactly as identified in/on the item itself (so, probably in first name/last name order).   If the author is not identified in the item itself, but is identified in a database or other source from which you downloaded the item, put the name in square brackets.  You may also use square brackets, after or within the name, to fill in information gained from another source (e.g. to expand initials into a full name). 


If you don’t know the name of the author/creator of the work, it’s fine to leave this field blank.  It’s also acceptable to identify a periodical, publisher, and/or other institutional author here (e.g. the name of a periodical that publishes book reviews, or of a company that was responsible for an advertisement).  Make sure your information is accurate, however (it’s better to include no information here than to get it wrong), and keep the field brief, since it’s one of two (the title is the other) that appears in the automatically-generated citation.  If you need to discuss questions of authorship/creative responsibility, do so, briefly, in the “description” field (see below). 



The date of creation or publication of the work, formatted according to ISO 8601 guidelines (http://www.w3.org/TR/NOTE-datetime ).  This system expresses dates in yyyy-mm-dd format (e.g. 1851-06-05 for June 6, 1851).  Fill out only as much as you know; you may stop with just the year, or just the year and month if necessary.  If you’re unsure of the year, fill in your best estimate followed by a question mark, and explain your reasoning in the “description” field.   (for more discussion of expressing uncertain or approximate dates, see Library of Congress guidelines at http://www.loc.gov/standards/datetime/pre-submission.html#uncertain ). 


Primary sources should have been created as close as possible to the date of the core text under examination (or, in some cases, to a time period depicted in the text).  The ideal time frame will vary depending on exactly what sort of space or place you’re investigating, but keep in mind that you don’t want major architectural, geopolitical,  and/or technological changes to have occurred between the time of the primary source and the time in which the core text was published (or set).  There may be some exceptions to this rule: for instance, if you’re investigating a space or place that is connected to the core text, but came into being after it was published (e.g. the grave in New York with Charlotte Temple’s name on it), you’ll probably be looking for sources that date as close as possible to the creation/first appearance of that space or place.  As a general rule, if the primary source you’ve chosen was created more than 10 years before or after the core text, you should include at least a brief explanation in the description field of why you feel the source still sheds light on cultural associations with the space/place at the time the text was created. 



In this field,  you should both briefly describe key features of the attached document that relate to a place or space that is significant in one of the core texts in the class, and explain how information, attitudes, ideas, etc. in the document help us understand the significance of the space/place in the core text.  The length of the description can vary, but you’ll probably need at least 150-200 words to accomplish both tasks (which in most cases should be weighted about 50/50), and you may need more space than that.  One way to think about what you’re trying to accomplish in the description is to remember that primary sources – which all of the documents that form the basis for items must be – are examples of a phenomenon a researcher is investigating; part of your job in writing the description is to make it clear (probably implicitly rather than explicitly) what phenomenon you consider this item to be an example of (or, to think of it another way, what research question it helps you answer).


This is also a key field for copyright/fair use reasons, because it explains the “transformative use” you’re making of excerpts from any copyrighted material (which is most likely to show up in the Color Purple items/exhibit).  In emphasizing in your description the connection of the item to the overall themes and questions of the Omeka site, and in highlighting the features of the item that help to make those connections, you will be making a transformative use of the item – a key criterion for determining fair use. 


This is also the appropriate field to use for any additional notes or information that you want to attach to the item; for instance, if you want to describe the process by which you arrived at information provided in another field or file, or discuss any possible questions about/issues with information in another field.   Please try to keep the field relatively compact, however (for instance, don’t use it for a full transcription of the item; if you want to provide a transcription, it should go in the “text” box on the “item type metadata” tab, or  into a file uploaded with the item.  You might, however, provide a note about who did the transcription here). 


As noted above, you cannot base an item on a secondary source.  If you make some use of a secondary source in interpreting your item, you cite information from the source clearly, using a signal phrase at the beginning and a parenthetical citation with a page # or similar location indicator at the end, and providing a “works cited” list entry for the secondary source at the very end of the description.  I’ll compile these entries onto an overall “works cited” page. 


So, for example, if you were drawing on Nina Baym’s critical introduction to The Lamplighter to explain your identification of D--- as Dorchester, you might include text like this in your item description:

Paraphrase: Dorchester, which Nina Baym identifies with D---- in The Lamplighter, was a suburb of Boston at the time of the novel (xiii). 


Quotation: Nina Baym describes Dorchester as “a pleasant rural suburb” located  “six miles” from the. . .center” of Boston in the mid-19th century (xiii). 


You’d then add a “works cited” at the end of the description field (not in the “source” field; that should contain bibliographic information for the document on which the item is based).


Baym, Nina.  “Introduction.”  The Lamplighter.  By Maria Susanna Cummins.  New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1988.  ix-xxxi.  Print. 



The name of the member of the class who found, uploaded, and filled out the Dublin Core info., tags, etc. for the item.  To get credit for an exhibit created by a group, a member must have contributed at least one item.  The form of your name in this field should match your display name in your Omeka user profile (not your username).  (If you choose, your display name may be anonymized before the site is made public). 








This is the main field we’ll use to record bibliographic data about the item.  It should follow the format for an MLA-style “works cited” entry as closely as possible (see http://bcs.bedfordstmartins.com/resdoc5e/res5e_ch08_s1-0011.html for basic forms; you’re most likely to use the formats numbered 40-43, samples of which I’ll reproduce below).  At the very least, your “works cited” entry should include both original publication information (first) and, following that, any applicable republication/redistribution information (e.g. information about the repository – database, web collection, or other source -- from which you retrieved the item, or the reprint edition from which you transcribed a quotation).   If the author and title, as  you would list them in an MLA-style “works cited” entry, are already provided in the “creator” and “title” fields, you don’t need to repeat them here (you can just start with the publication information).   In the case of an excerpt, give the full “works cited” information for the work from which you excerpted it. 




Keep in mind that to include an item in the class Omeka site, you must be able to trace its origins to a physical object created during the time period under study, and be able to identify where that physical item may be currently found (or, at least, was found at the time the digital file which you’re uploading was created).  You don’t need to include all of this information in the “source” field in every case, or even to know the details, but you must be confident that you could find them in the digital repository you’re using.  


So, for instance, for a periodical article retrieved from the American Periodicals database, you don’t need to figure out exactly which archive holds the physical copy of the digitized periodical, but you need to be aware that one of the things that makes the database a reliable repository of digitized material is that you could.  This is quite different from finding a file labeled “19th century illustration of a [fill in the subject]” on the internet, with no further information provided.  Reliable repositories (library databases, the Library of Congress digital collections, and similar public and private collections) will make it easy for you to trace the “chain of custody” from a specific physical object to the digital representation of that object you’re adding or excerpting as an item. 






This field should contain one of the three boilerplate statements reproduced below (just the text, not the number), and nothing else. 


(1) Original document is out of copyright (it was published before 1923).  Every effort has been made to comply with the provisions of any licensing agreements associated with digitization of the original document.  For further information, please see the “about” page. 



(2) Document from which item is excerpted may be in copyright (it was published after 1923).  Every effort has been made to select excerpts in compliance with fair use guidelines, and to comply with the provisions of any licensing agreements associated with digitization of the original document.  For further information, please see the “about” page.




(3) Original document identified in the originating depository (see “source” field) as free of publication restrictions.  For further information, please see the “about” page.



Copyright is an extremely complicated subject – more complicated than we can explore in any detail in this class – so we’ll be using the simplified before-1923/after-1923/in the public domain system above (which, in turn, is based on information found in sources such as the Cornell University Libraries’ copyright table, found at http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm and the library of Congress’ discussion of copyright  at http://www.loc.gov/rr/print/195_copr.html ).  Keep in mind the distinction between creation and publication; a text or image created before 1923 may  still be in copyright if it was first published after 1923. 


If a work may be in copyright, you should only upload short excerpts of the work that are necessary to illustrate a point you wish to make in an exhibit, and should explain in the description of the excerpt how the excerpt connects to the subject you are investigating (see more about this under the “description” field).  This description will help explain (implicitly) why you believe your excerpting of the work is consistent with fair use.  Make sure that you also include the word “excerpt” in square brackets after the title (see “title” field for more). 


The other related issue that needs to be considered  is any rights associated with digitization. These are usually covered by licensing agreements, which be found in the database or web repository in which you find the item.  A GMU librarian and I have done our best to make sure that we’re in compliance with licensing agreements associated with the GMU databases, and with sites I’ve recommended (e.g. Google books, Hathi Trust, the Library of Congress digital collections).  If you’re drawing items from another digital repository, you should make sure to read its licensing/use agreement, and to comply with its terms. 



optional; you may want to fill in if you upload a primary source in a language other than English.



optional; fill in if the information seems useful (e.g. if the fact that several items share a common publisher might be significant).  In most cases, it will probably be sufficient to include information about the original publisher, if known, in the “source” field (see above). 

Coverage; Format; Identifier; Relation; Subject; Type


I don’t expect us to use these fields (and will hide them if I can; so far, attempts to do so have crashed the site).  Please leave them blank. 

Item Type Metadata


Filling in these fields is optional; since most contributions to the site will be items of the type “document” or “still image,” I’ve included some suggestions for filling out the fields associated with them below. 

Item Type

[if you’re going to specify an item type, make a note of it here]

(Optional) Choose from the drop-down list, paying attention the definitions that appear as you make a choice. Most items on our site will be either documents or still images; keep in mind that a picture of a written document is classified as a document.  By the same token, please don’t use “hyperlink”; we’re interested in the text or image to which the hyperlink points, not the link itself.  Urls identifying the repository from which you downloaded a document or image should be included in the “source” field (see above). 




If you want to provide a transcription of all or part of an item, this is the place to do it.  This field may come in handy if an item is not legible in the image that appears on the site, and/or if you need to upload only an excerpt (if you want the excerpt to display as an image associated with the item, however, you’ll need to upload it as an image file; see notes on “file” field below). 

Original Format; Physical Dimensions


I don’t believe these fields will be particularly useful to our work in this class; they can probably be left blank. 


[delete all but one]

Charlotte Temple

The Lamplighter

The House of Mirth

The Color Purple

Please associate each item with one of the four core texts studied in this course (and do not add any other collections).  If your item could be connected to more than one text, associate it with the text you’ll be discussing in the exhibit in which the item is used.  Items can only be associated with one collection (but can, and in many cases should, be used in multiple exhibits)


[make a note here of which files you’ll upload, in which order, and make sure you have them ready, in the appropriate format(s)]

You must upload at least one file for each item (a url alone won’t do), and may upload more than one. Keep in mind that the first file uploaded will appear as an image in exhibits in which you include the item; you will probably want to make this image a .jpeg for the most satisfactory display (see separate handout for ways to accomplish this), and will definitely want to choose an image that represents the item well.  If you want to display more than one image associated with a document in an exhibit, you’ll need to create additional, separate, excerpt, items. 


If you have text (but not a croppable image of that text) that you want to display in the thumbnail, the best way to produce a .jpeg file is to type the text into a slide in powerpoint (or a similar program), and use the “save as” function to save the slide as a .jpeg file. 


[write down any proposed tags here; make sure to check for existing very similar tags before actually entering in Omeka]

Please do use tags, since they allow us to create connections between/among items.  We’ll talk about possible tags in class (and may, at intervals throughout the semester, agree to do some editing for consistency).  Feel free to create tags, but before doing so, please go to the “tags” tab and check that a similar tag doesn’t already exist.  Keep in mind that tags should be short, and that multiple tags can be assigned to a particular item (so, if an item is associated with several themes, places, or ideas, its best to attach single-words describing each of those connections rather than a multi-word combination tag).