Profiling the Female Emigrant: A Method of Linguistic Inquiry for Examining Correspondence Collections

Emma Moreton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article proposes a method of linguistic inquiry for examining gender history, one which draws on the theory and techniques of corpus linguistics to examine a corpus of female emigrant correspondence. Corpus linguistics is an empirical approach to language description, relying entirely on the evidence of language usage as collected and analysed in corpora. In using corpus techniques the analyst is restricted to features [of the text] which the software can find meaning that it is the data (rather than the analyst) that leads the investigation. For this article, I will be working with a corpus of Irish emigrant correspondence. I will focus, in particular, on the letters of four sisters the Lough sisters who emigrated to the US in the mid to late part of the nineteenth century. There are ninety-nine letters in total dating from 1876 to 1928. Using the corpus analysis and comparison software Antconc, the linguistic content of the letters will be examined to demonstrate how this methodology might complement (and contribute to) existing research in the field, helping to bridge the gap between the content observed and the conclusions that are later drawn from that content. Chapters

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGender History Across Epistemologies
EditorsDonna R. Gabaccia, Mary Jo Maynes
Number of pages30
ISBN (Print)9781118508244
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2013


  • Correspondence collections
  • Female emigrant
  • Globalisation
  • Linguistic inquiry
  • Public documentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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