June 2018 Archives

New Adventures

Hi everyone,

My name is Giti and this week was my second full week as a CLIR CCEPS Fellow.
I am very excited to join the team. For the past two weeks, I have been renaming and converting the PDFs in Frankish Letters Book 1 into PDF/As. It has been very interesting working with this book and tracking Mr. Frankish's business transactions and correspondences. I am very excited to see what's next!

More next week,

Metadata, metadata, metadata, and more metadata

Hi everyone,

I've managed to complete more batches of metadata with the edits I made to the template in CONTENTdm. It turns out that I could customize the metadata to my needs, and was able to pre-fill more fields than the CLIR Water team thought possible. The metadata process has been more efficient as a result of this discovery and hopefully that means the completion of Frankish Letters Book 3 by the end of the summer!

Talk to y'all later,

Angel Ornelas

Bilious Attack

In a letter from December, 1887 Charles Frankish sends his condolences to a man who suffered a "bilious attack." As someone who is interested in medical history, my interest was piqued. I looked up the term "bilious attack," and the internet returned the following Merriam Webster definition:

A. biology : of or relating to a yellow or greenish fluid that is secreted by the liver and that aids especially in the emulsification and absorption of fats - of or relating to bile

B. biology : marked by or suffering from liver dysfunction and especially excessive secretion of bile - a bilious attack - a bilious patient

C. appearing as if affected by a bilious disorder - a sickly bilious face


Apparently this man had some sort of liver disease, which was known as a bilious attack at the time. Reading further I came across this passage on the Merriam Webster website:


Bilious is one of several words whose origins trace to the old belief that four bodily humors (black bile, yellow bile, phlegm, and blood) control temperament. Just like phlegmatic ("of a slow and stolid phlegm-driven character"), melancholy ("experiencing dejection associated with black bile"), and sanguine ("of a cheerful, blood-based disposition"), bilious suggests a personality associated with an excess of one of the humors - in this case, yellow bile. Bilious, which first appeared in English in the mid-1500s, derives from the Middle French bilieux, which in turn traces to bilis, Latin for bile. In the past, "bile" was also called choler, which gives us choleric, a synonym of bilious.


It is interesting how ideas influence language, even after the ideas have gone out of vogue. For example, liver spots are not related to the liver at all and are instead caused by sun exposure, almost like a large freckle. However, liver spots were named because people once believed they were a symptom of liver problems. So even though we know they are not caused by liver disease, language has not adjusted to our new knowledge.

It is also interesting how words originally used for medical conditions, become associated with personality traits. I'm sure there is a historical reason for this, but I don't know what it is. All I know is that I've used the word melancholy many times and never meant for it to be related to black bile.

Back to the Grind

Hi everyone!

It feels good to be back from a much needed summer break. As of yesterday, I've been working on completing metadata for Frankish Letters Book III and organizing the file name tracker. That being said, I have stumbled across a lot of letters concerning the price of land and the costs associated with water development. I did not realize how expensive purchasing and developing a piece of land was until having gone through various Frankish letters. I hope to discover more cool and interesting facts next week! 

Warmest regards,

Angel Ornelas

The Plot Thickens

This week I continued to work on metadata and upload letters from Charles Frankish. Now that I have worked on so many letters, I am starting to recognize names and patterns in the documents. It is almost as if I am reading a long, abstract novel where characters and events are related to the reader through Frankish's perspective. It took many letters before I could recognize stories developing and a lot of work for me to piece the narrative back together since the letters are all outgoing mail. However, it is a rewarding and exciting feeling to open up a file and find a clue to what is happening in Ontario, California in the 1880s. Now, when I see a familiar name I get an idea of how Charles Frankish will address them, what the letter will discuss, etc. And different events develop over the course of many letters, such as the construction of the electric railway that I mentioned last week. Each letter on a certain topic updates me on the progress and setbacks that Frankish encountered so many years ago.

So Many Uploads!

This week I have done so much metadata for the Charles Frankish letters. It is incredible the amount of letters that I have been able to get through this week. I have uploaded nearly 200 new letters on the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. I wish I had more to say about the letters, but most of them detail various business transactions for the Ontario Land Company. In particular these letters provide information about property values, the sale of land, and water stocks. Some of the more interesting topics include the construction of an electric railway in Ontario as well as the development of a commercial center in the new city. These letters haven't been particularly interesting to me, but the facts and figures included in these letters could provide researchers with useful data. Check them out on the Claremont Colleges Digital Library!

Good-bye Chaffey, Hello Frankish

After months of creating metadata for the Chaffey brothers, I am finally done uploading the Chaffey letters to the digital library! This is an exciting moment because now researchers can access all of the letters in our collection online. I have written blog posts before about the various historical narratives that can be gleaned from these narratives, and I hope others find that to be true the next time they visit the Claremont Colleges Digital Library. It seems odd that I have read almost every Chaffey letter in our collection and now I am done. There are no more Chaffey letters left for me to read.

Now I turn to Charles Frankish and the large collection of letters from him that we have in our collection. After the Chaffey brothers established Ontario, California they moved to Australia to start a new colony based on the success of the Ontario colony. They left Ontario in the hands of Charles Frankish who continued to develop the city. Creating metadata for Charles Frankish is much easier given the context I have from the Chaffey brothers' letters. Charles Frankish had to respond to many of the same issues that the Chaffey brothers dealt with. However, new plans were also being made as the city grew rapidly.

For example, several letters from 1887 refer to an electric railway being constructed along an eight-mile strip of Euclid Avenue. It's fascinating to read the letters in chronological order because I feel like I am watching a city being built. It's even more interesting because I have been to Ontario, and can think back to what changes the city has gone through to get from the small settlement founded by the Chaffeys and developed by Charles Frankish to the modern city we can visit today.