Module 3: Prose

4. Willa Cather: “Roll Call on the Prairies”

The following example is an excerpt from Willa Carther’s “Roll Call on the Prairies” in The Red Cross Magazine, 1919. This prose account of life during the first World War in the plains of Nebraska is encoded in paragraphs. Page numbers occur in <pb> tags, with the actual page number as the value of the @n attribute.

This example contains the encoding of a picture in a <figure> element, grouping together a heading (<head>) and a description of the image (<figDesc>. The actual digital representation of the picture is pointed to with the <graphic> element, whose @url attribute carries the URL of the digital scan.

Notice that in this example, a couple of things could have been further encoded. The “foreign mail” phrase could be identified with a <soCalled> tag; the fragment “‘And in this country … pride,’” could be encoded as direct speech with a <q> element, either with or without retaining the quotation marks in the actual transcription.

<p xmlns="">Letters from the front usually reached our town on Saturday nights. The "foreign mail" had become a feature of life in Kansas and Nebraska. The letters came in bunches; if one mother heard from her son, so did half a dozen others. One could hear them chatting to each other about what Vernon thought of Bordeaux, or what Roy had to say about the farming country along the Oise, or how much Elmer had enjoyed his rest leave in Paris. To me, knowing the boys, nearly all of these letters were remarkable. The most amusing were those which made severe strictures upon American manners; the boys were afraid the French would think us all farmers! One complained that his comrade
<pb facs="cat​.nf007​.003" n="29"/>
<graphic url="cat​.nf007​.fig1"/>
<head type="main">Fifty dollars saved from egg money for a needed new dress and coat went for a Liberty Bond "to help fight Austria"</head>
<figDesc>Illustration of two women standing in a parlor, one the Liberty Bond canvasser and the other the woman of the house who buys a Liberty Bond with her egg money.</figDesc>
talked and pushed chairs about in the Y hut while the singers who came to entertain them were on the platform. "And in this country, too, the Home of Politeness! Some yaps have no pride," he wrote bitterly. I can say for the boys from our town that they wanted to make a good impression.</p>
Example 8. A fragment of a TEI encoding of Willa Cather’s “Roll Call on the Prairies” (Cather 1919). TEI XML source available from