Archive for the ‘Digital Archives’ Category

Finding English Verse, 1650-1800

January 23, 2013

The following announcement comes from James Woolley, English, Lafayette College:

A revised and enlarged checklist of first-line indexes and fully searchable texts is available here.

Since last report (August 2010), quite a bit has happened. The Union First Line Index of English Verse has expanded significantly; it now includes, in addition to manuscript verse, printed verse 1603-1710, with more additions promised. We have a new index of Gentleman’s Magazine verse. Other big projects are announced in this update of the checklist as well. For a clue about what’s new, see the update history, p. 22.

Prof. Woolley would like to be apprised of news that ought to be mentioned in the checklist, or errors that ought to be corrected.

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SHARP 2013 Call for Submissions, for digital projects related to book history and bibliography

December 13, 2012

The Organizing Committee for the Philadelphia SHARP Conference 2013 announces a second Call for Submissions, for digital projects related to book history and bibliography. These may include but are not limited to research tools, apps and software, bibliographies or databases, corpora of media or texts, digitization initiatives, remediations, and interactive interfaces.

 We will exhibit up to 20 of these projects in a free-form session in which participants will be able to share their digital and new media work with an audience of nearly 300 conference delegates (faculty, librarians, administrators, independent scholars, graduate students).

 The Showcase will be held between 12 and 3pm on Saturday, July 20, 2013. The conference runs from Thursday, July 18 to Sunday, July 21, 2013.

 We welcome submissions on all aspects of SHARP’s purview: authorship, reading, and publishing. We particularly encourage proposals of new or recent work, as well as proposals directly relevant to the conference theme, “Geographies of the Book.” (To learn more about the 2013 Conference, please visit our website at http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/lectures/SHARP2013/index.html).

 The deadline for proposals is Friday, January 25, 2013, at 11:59 p.m.

Eastern Standard Time (GMT +5h).

 

To submit, please email the SHARP 2013 Program Committee at sharpupenn2013@gmail.com with a brief introduction (up to 400 words) of your project/tool/software. Questions that may be addressed include:

  •  what were the origins of your project; what are its theoretical underpinnings and its goals?
  • what are the historical period and geography/ies covered?
  • what determined its design? what tools and software were used? if your project *is* a tool or software, how does it benefit book historians and/or bibliographers
  • how did the digital or media component(s) of your project enable, strengthen, or transform the materials and methods under consideration? what new questions were raised?
  • how might this approach or tool be scaled up, appropriated, or reused in other contexts?

 Please be sure to name all participants and institutions involved.

 Participants will be expected to provide their own hardware for demonstrations (PCs/Macs, tablets, drives, sound systems, etc.). The conference’s Local Arrangements Committee will provide logistical assistance (tables, chairs, extension cords, Internet access) but cannot offer tech support.

 Those who have submitted papers to the main conference program may also submit project proposals to the Digital Projects Showcase, but, with consideration for program planning and maximal participation, will only be selected for one or the other.

 One participant for each proposal must be(come) a member of SHARP prior to the conference.

 

Some financial assistance may be available; in the past we have been able to fund between 10-15% of all travel grant requests. If you wish to apply for a travel grant, please include a statement of up to 150 words explaining how much funding you are requesting and why.

 

Please contact the SHARP Program Committee with any questions by email at sharpupenn2013@gmail.com or by phone at +1.347.6SHRP13 (+1.347.647.7713).

 We look forward to your submissions and to showcasing our changing digital landscape in Philadelphia next July.

 Sincerely,

David McKnight

Convenor, SHARP 2013 Conference, Philadelphia

 

“Geographies of the Book”

The 21st Annual Conference of the Society for the History of Authorship, Reading, and Publishing (SHARP)

18-21 July, 2013

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA http://www.library.upenn.edu/exhibits/lectures/SHARP2013/index.html

Folger Digital Texts: Shakespeare’s Plays, Cutting-Edge Code: A Powerful Research Tool for Scholars

December 6, 2012

The Folger is delighted to announce the launch of Folger Digital Texts. These are reliable, expertly edited, and free digital Shakespeare texts for use by researchers. Starting from the Folger Editions of Shakespeare’s works edited by Barbara Mowat and Paul Werstine, Folger Digital Texts uses XML to create a highly articulate indexing system. Researchers can read the plays online, download PDFs for offline reading, search a play or the whole corpus, navigate by act, scene, line, or the new Folger Throughline Numbers. In short, every word, space, and piece of punctuation has its own place online. Twelve plays are currently available, and the remainder of the works and poems will be released throughout 2013.

The XML-coded files are offered as a free download for noncommercial use by scholars and can be used as the groundwork for digital Shakespeare research projects, app development, and other projects.

The Folger Shakespeare Library editions, published by Simon and Schuster, remain available in print and as ebooks and include essays, glosses, notes, and illustrations from the materials in the Folger collections.

The Folger Digital Texts team includes Rebecca Niles, editor and interface architect, and Michael Poston, editor and encoding architect. They welcome your feedback at folgertexts (at) folger.edu.

If you click here, you will be taken directly to Folger Digital Texts.

Folger Institute “Early Modern Digital Agendas”

November 29, 2012

The following announcement, from Owen Williams, Assistant Director of the Folger Institute, will be of interest to readers:

In July 2013, the Folger Institute will offer “Early Modern Digital Agendas” under the direction of Jonathan Hope, Professor of Literary Linguistics at the University of Strathclyde. It is an NEH-funded, three-week institute that will explore the robust set of digital tools with period-specific challenges and limitations that scholars of early modern English now have at hand. “Early Modern Digital Agendas” will create a forum in which twenty faculty participants can historicize, theorize, and critically evaluate current and future digital approaches to early modern literary studies—from Early English Books Online-Text Creation Partnership (EEBO-TCP) to advanced corpus linguistics, semantic searching, and visualization theory—with discussion growing out of, and feeding back into, their own projects (current and envisaged). With the guidance of expert visiting faculty, attention will be paid to the ways new technologies are shaping the very nature of early modern research and the means by which scholars interpret texts, teach their students, and present their findings to other scholars.

This institute is supported by an Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Office of Digital Humanities. Please visit http://emdigitalagendas.folger.edu/ for more details.

Owen writes that he will be happy to answer questions pertaining to this interesting new project.

T-PEN: A New Tool for Transcription of Digitized Manuscripts

October 22, 2012

One of the exciting turn of events for scholars has been the growing number of unpublished, hand-written documents now available on the world wide web. Textual scholars no longer have to travel to distant countries for view the essential manuscript(s) for their research. Instead, they can now sit themselves down in front of their laptop and display each successive page. This has moved many sources that were once difficult to access into the “completely accessible” category.

But does that make them usable?  Despite the desire to make many manuscript collection freely accessible, many digital repositories use “tiled-based” viewers in order to protect unauthorized copying of the collection. This is completely understandable, but those viewers sometimes place limits on how a digital surrogate can be viewed. They can even make it difficult for scholars to extract what they often want most: a transcription of the manuscript’s content. Moreover, the current practice of transcribing from digitized pages can easily permit mistakes to occur. Transcribers currently move from the image to a word processing application in another display window (either on the same screen or on a different monitor). That process can easily mimic the same mistakes that the original scribe could make: haplography (omission of content between similar or identical words; “saut du même au meme”), dittography (repetition of letters or syllables), duplication or omission (of letters, words, or lines), often caused by homoearcton and homoeoteleuton (similar beginnings and endings of words), and transpositions. Could it then be possible to make these digital manuscripts both accessible and highly usable?

T-PEN (Transcription for Paleographical and Editorial Notation) seeks to address both the accessibility and usability of digital repositories. Developed by the Center for Digital Theology of Saint Louis University, in collaboration with the Carolingian Canon Law Project of the University of Kentucky, this new digital tool is a sophisticated web-based application that assists scholars in transcribing these manuscripts. To reduce the likelihood of transcription errors, we took advantage of digital technology to place both the transcription and the exemplar in a manner that minimized the visual movement between the two as much as possible. We accomplished this with a simple but novel visualization of the lines of script in the exemplar, which we integrated with interactive transcription spaces. To build the tool, we developed an algorithm for “parsing” the lines of script in an image, and a data model that connected the image delivery of manuscript repositories with the actions of transcribers.

But we wanted T-PEN to offer more than just a means to ensure good transcription. We had, in fact,  three goals in mind:

  1. To build a tool useful for any kind of scholar, from the digital Luddite to those obsessed with text encoding;
  2. To provide as many tools as possible to enhance the transcription process;
  3. To help scholars make their transcriptions interoperable so that those transcriptions would never be locked into the world of T-PEN alone.

After two years of design, development, and intensive testing this tool is now available to the wider public. It was built in the first instance for those working with pre-modern manuscripts, but there is nothing in its design that would prevent early modern scholars from exploiting T-PEN for their purposes. T-PEN is a complex application and to explain every function would take several posts. Instead, I want to provide a brief overview of how someone can set up a transcription project, how they can use T-PEN to produce high-quality work and finally how to get transcriptions out of T-PEN and into other applications or contexts.

Choosing your Manuscript

T-PEN is meant to act as a nexus between digital repositories and the scholar. To date, we have negotiated access to over 3,000 European manuscripts and we are working on further agreements to expand that list. Our aim is to have a minimum of 10,000 pre-modern European manuscripts available for transcription. Even with that number, we will never be able to satisfy all potential users. We therefore enabled private uploads to extend T-PEN’s usability. Many scholars have obtained digital images of a manuscript and they have permission to make use of them for research purposes. Private uploads to T-PEN are an extension of that “fair use.”  Users zip the JPG images into a single file and then upload them to T-PEN. These type of projects can only add five additional collaborators (see project management, below), and they can never become public projects. Currently T-PEN can support around 300 private projects, and we are expanding our storage capacity for more.

T-PEN's Catalog of Available Manuscripts

Transcribing your Manuscript

Once you select your manuscript you can immediately begin your transcription work. T-PEN does not store any permanent copies of the page images, so each time you request to see a page T-PEN loads the image from the originating repository. If you have never transcribed the page before, T-PEN takes you to the line parsing interface. This adds a little time to the image loading as T-PEN parses the image in real time. When it finishes, you will see a page that looks like this:

T-PEN's Line Parsing Interface

T-PEN attempts to identify the location of each line on the page and then uses alternating colors to display those coordinates. As you can see, we make no claim of absolute perfection. We worked on this algorithm for  almost two and half years and after extensive testing, we’ve been able to promise, on average, an 85% success rate. There are a number of factors that prohibit complete accuracy and so we offer a way for the transcriber to introduce corrections herself. You can add, delete or re-size columns; and insert or merge lines as well. You can even adjust the width of individual lines if they vary in length. You can even combine a number of lines if you want to have them grouped together for your  transcription. Sometimes, manuscripts don’t merge well in our modern, rectilinear world: many handwritten texts were written at an angle or were so tightly bound that the page could not be photographed as flat. T-PEN ultimately doesn’t care: what really matters for connecting transcription to a set of coordinates on a digital image. What really matters is that the left side of the line box aligns with the written text. That’s the anchor.

When you are satisfied with the line parsing, you can start transcribing. The transcription interface looks like this:

T-PEN Transcription User Interface

This interface allows you to transcribe line by line, with the current line surrounded by a red box. There are some basic features to note. First, as you transcribe the previous line is noted above because so often sentence units are split across lines. Transcription input is stored in Unicode and T-PEN will take whatever language set the user has enabled his computer to type. If there are special characters in the manuscript, the transcriber can insert them either by clicking on the special character button (the first ten are hot-keyed to CTRL+1 through 0).

Second, users can encode their transcription as they go. On this aspect, T-PEN is both innovative and provocative. Many scholarly projects that include text encoding often adopt a three-step process: the scholar transcribes the text and then hands it to support staff to complete the encoding, which is finally vetted by the scholar. However, there are many times in which semantic encoding of transcriptions has to include how the text is presented on the page. T-PEN innovatively allows scholars to integrate transcription (with the manuscript wholly in view) and encoding into one step. Often the best encoder is the transcriber herself. That innovation comes with a provocative concept, however. In digital humanities where TEI is the reigning orthodoxy, T-PEN is at least heterodox if not openly heretical. T-PEN’s data model does not expect,  nor require, a transcription to be encoded much less utilize TEI as the basis of structured text. Instead, T-PEN treats all XML elements as simply part of the character stream. T-PEN can support transcribers who don’t want to encode at all as well as those who are wholly committed to the world of TEI. For those who want to encode, a schema can be linked to a project to produce a set of XML buttons that can be used in the transcription interface.

Project Management

For those who simply want to start transcribing, project management will not be that important. For those who envisage a more sustained project (and perhaps a collaborative one at that), it will be vital. There are a number of components in managing a T-PEN project, but here I want to highlight two of them.

Collaboration. Like most digital tools, T-PEN allows you to invite collaborators to join your project. All members of a project have to be registered on T-PEN (but that’s free and requires only providing your full name and an email address). Managing collaboration has three features, of which only a few projects will use all three. There is first adding and deleting project members. Any member of a project can see who is also a member, but only the project leader can add or delete members. A project leader can even have T-PEN send an invitation to a non-T-PEN person and invite them to join (and once they do, they automatically become part of that project).

Collaboration in Project Management

Second, there is a project log to inspect. This log records any activity that changes the content or parameters of the project. This can be particularly helpful when tracking down how a transcription has changed in a shared project (and a user can display the history of each line in the Trasnscription UI). Finally, projects can make use of T-PEN’s switchboard feature. This is for transcription projects that may be part of a larger project, and where the transcriptions will be aggregated in another digital environment. Switchboard does two things for a project: (1) it allows different projects to share the same XML schema so that all transcriptions will conform to the larger project’s standards; and (2) it will expose the transcription through a web service to permit easy export to the larger project.

Project Options. The two more important options are button management and setting the transcription tools. As seen in the screen shot of the transcription interface, users can use buttons to insert both XML elements and special characters. Those buttons are created and modified as part of the project options. If there is an XML schema for the project, a project leader can link it to the project. Then in button management, the elements in that schema populate the XML button list. The button populator does not discern between metadata elements and elements found in the body of an encoding schema. Users then have to modify the button list to cull the elements that won’t be used during transcription. There’s an additional advantage to editing that list: each button can gain a more readable title. This can be helpful if the encoding schema exploits the varying use of the <seg>  or the <div> elements in TEI. When the possible deployment of the tag might be unclear to those with less experience with TEI, a more straightforward title can become a better guide to its use.

Special characters allow the user to identify characters in the UTF-8 system which may not be represented on a standard keyboard. These can be created by entering the correct Unicode value for the character. The first 10 characters are mapped to hotkeys CTRL+1 through 0.

Finally, the set of tools that are available on the transcription interface are set in project options. T-PEN has thirteen tools built-in and most of them were included to assist transcribers of pre-modern manuscripts. Some will be helpful to editors of modern texts. If those tools are unhelpful, then the user can expand that list of tools: all that is needed a name of the tool and its URL. Once attached to the project, the user will be able to access that tool in the transcription interface.

Getting your Transcription out of T-PEN

Digital tools often fall into one of two categories. “Thinking” tools are ones that allow users to manipulate and process datasets in order to test a certain idea or to visualize an abstract concept. They can also allow the user to annotate a resource as a way of processing the scholar’s conception of the object’s meaning or the hermeneutical framework it may require. These tools are invaluable, but they do not easily produce results that can be integrated into a print or digital publication. The second type is what I call the production tool. With these applications, the final objective is to produce something that can be integrated in other contexts. T-PEN falls firmly into this second category—although it has its own annotation tool with which a user can record observations about each manuscript page (and it is compliant with the W3C standard, the Open Annotation Collaboration). Scholars transcribe normally one of three reasons; to create a scholarly edition; to place those transcriptions in footnotes or in the appendices of a monograph; or to integrate an encoded text into a larger resource.

T-PEN supports four basic export formats: XML/plaintext, where the user can filter out one or more XML tags; PDF; RTF which is compatible with most word processors; and finally, basic HTML. For the first one, if the user has attached a header to the project, that header can be included in the export. There is an important caveat here:  T-PEN was not designed to be an XML editor. We do offer a basic, well-formedness check (which stops at the first error), but T-PEN does not offer full validation services. Most scholars who encode with T-PEN export their transcriptions to an XML editor for full validation of the file. The last three export formats include some simple transformation for text decoration (italics, bold, etc.). Users can also identify the whole transcription or specify a range based on the pagination (or foliation) of the manuscript.

T-PEN's Export Options

This post only covers the basics of T-PEN. There are more features available to the user. There is a demonstration video on YouTube  where you can walk with one of T-PEN’s research fellows as she begins a transcription project.  T-PEN is freely available, thanks to a major investment from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and a Level 2 Start-up grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. So go to t-pen.org and register for an account.

New Digital Projects I: Vernacular Aristotelianism and Digitized Archives at the Wellcome Library

September 28, 2012

The following guest post, the first of two parts, is from Andie Silva, Wayne State University

The University of Warwick, in association with the Newberry library, has been conducting a long-term research project on “Reading Publics.” This project, led by Professor Simon Gilson, Dr. David Lines, and Dr. Maude Vanhaelen, encourages conversations about communities of readers, evidence of readership and reception, and the social and cultural involvement of individual and networks of readers on the print marketplace. This research is possible in great part due to the growth of digitization projects and increasing availability of data and archival materials. As the project’s webpage outlines, however, “the availability of these resources not only varies greatly depending on language, author, country, and period, but also calls for careful methodological reflection.”

This summer, the program leaders organized three activities designed to foster conversation and scholarship on the topic of “Reading Publics” and digitization. I, along with nineteen other scholars from the United States, England, and Italy, was selected to participate in their final activity, a two-week workshop at the University of Warwick. During this workshop, we attended presentations on two new, exciting database and digitization projects: Vernacular Aristotelianism in Renaissance Italy, c. 1400-c. 1650 (University of Warwick); and the on-going project to digitize the entire catalogue at the Wellcome Library, one of the world’s largest collections of history of medicine materials. The following, the first of a two-part post, will focus on the Vernacular Aristotelianism.

The Vernacular Aristotelianism database was launched in May 2012. So far, the catalogue accounts for over 400 titles, half printed books and half manuscripts. The goal of its developers is to catalogue all vernacular works that reference Aristotle or interpret Aristotelian works, (including falsely-attributed texts)—a helpful addition to those researching reception and production of Aristotelian texts in early modern Europe. One of the greatest features of this database is the flexibility of its search engine. A sidebar menu allows searches to be conducted solely on “manuscripts,” “printed editions,” “authors,” “dedicatees,” and “printers.” Thus, a scholar interested in how many times Cosimo de Medici was the chosen dedicatee for Aristotelian-related works would quickly and relatively easily discover at least five works on her first attempt. The catalogued texts still appear in varying degrees of detail. All works, I believe, already have a basic listing, including date and location of first publication, author, printer, and a short description of the work.

A shorter, yet still impressive, number of records contain further detail: if the database’s current webmaster, Eugenio Refini, has physically visited the copy, he has shared his notes on the size, condition, and title-page details of particular editions. Since a lot of his notes pertain to specific copies, he will also note which edition he has seen, and where. Even better, Refini has put considerable effort in cataloguing paratextual information, including what kinds of paratexts are available in the work (epistles, indexes, notes) and whether or not the book includes any visual elements (though no specifics are given as to what kinds of visuals). A few texts also contain “internal descriptions,” where sections of the work are either fully transcribed or generally outlined.

This kind of deep-level information is still lacking from most North American databases and catalogue searches. Although it would be recognizably difficult to restructure a large website like EEBO so that it contains more non-authorial details (and do so consistently across records), many projects like Brown’s fantastic Women Writers Online or the University of Michigan’s Renaissance Liturgical Imprints could benefit from more comprehensive and transparent search options. Of course, that is not to mention many potentially exciting projects like British Literary Manuscripts Online and Arkyves, which are largely available by subscription only. This reliance on existing catalogues and older cataloguing methods, especially ones originally designed for material holdings, holds back many digital projects from their full potential as new search tools.

When the database was first presented at the workshop, we were impressed with the range of detail and information Dr. David Lines and Dr. Eugenio Refini have been able to gather. However, most of us were skeptical about their ability to offer the same level of detail for all their records. One pertinent suggestion from the group was the possibility of “crowd sourcing.” Although it could take a single scholar (or even a small group of scholars) a long time to add bibliographical details to all 400 works (their goal, I believe is to expand the database in the future), if users could submit their own notations, that work could happen quickly and effectively. This would no doubt enrich the database beyond its already incredible achievements and make a number of new kinds of research possible.

There are, of course, a few limitations to the database. In order to make so many search terms immediately within reach, the page is visually overwhelming. The search button at the top is easily missed amongst all the information on the center of the page, and the preloaded first record that opens with the database might at first be confusing. Once the search is successfully performed, the user will need to find the browsing buttons at the top left of the page to sort through each result. For those uneasy with technology, these immediate challenges might be intimidating, and the researcher would unfortunately be missing out on a valuable and incredibly detailed resource.

Even for those of us not performing research on Aristotle, this database raises some important issues. First, the range of non-canonic texts yet to be properly catalogued and annotated, let alone studied, remains overwhelming. Smaller, single-focused websites like Vernacular Aristotelianism highlight how crucial the Digital Humanities have been to providing new and productive avenues for scholarship. We need more projects like this (and perhaps more government funding to make them possible).

Secondly, the organizers have taken into consideration an important shift (by no means wholly “new” anymore, but still time-consuming due to limited search methods) in bibliographical studies, having to do with the analysis of paratextual material and surface-level concerns as integral aspects of textual production and reception. Although scholars like Helen Smith and Michael Saenger have greatly contributed to the study of paratextual and material elements, most of these materials remain uncatalogued. What’s left to the scholar of paratexts is a manual archival search, browsing through texts one by one either digitally or at national archives. Vernacular Aristotelianism provides a helpful starting point of information that, although it does not replace visiting the physical copy, broadens the scope of research and expands the specificity of academic projects.

Digital Life Spans and Library Access

August 22, 2012

Today’s Inside Higher Ed has an article by Barbara Fister called “The Library Vanishes – Again” that may be of interest.

Fister reports that EBSCO, which provides the Academic Search Premier database,” no longer offers full access to The Economist due to a contract dispute.  Similarly, the ERIC database, an online database of education research and information, was taken offline because of undisclosed “privacy concerns.”  It will remain offline until the privacy issues are resolved.  Fister conjectures that the privacy issues ailing ERIC might well result from the searchability of digitized databases: now that ERIC’s 360,000+ documents are online, data within those documents, including confidential data, is simply easier to find.  As she puts it,

materials that were publicly available in a pre-web state tended to evade notice; web access  is wonderful, but it exposes things.

Fister’s article confirms the digital world’s double identity of promise and instability.  Digitization makes items accessible and at its best provides full-text searchability.  But until some core values are arrived at regarding how to guarantee digital life spans, a library’s promise of access, ever contingent on library budgets and whims, remains in question.

This fall may be a good time to give thought to the library as it is affected by digitization.

In the meantime, I recommend Fister’s brief article in full at http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/library-babel-fish/library-vanishes-again#ixzz24HzGXGb1

Digital Humanities Caucus: Survey of American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies Members’ Technology Interests

July 24, 2012

This past spring the Digital Humanities Caucus of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies conducted a technology survey of all members. The DH Caucus is sending a report detailing the results of that survey to all ASECS members. A copy is also available here, and summary remarks have also been posted on EighteenthCentury.org (http://eighteenthcentury.org/).

On behalf of the DH Caucus, this post serves as a forum for ASECS members to discuss the report and propose follow-up actions. What results were surprising? What suggestions offered should the DH Caucus and/or ASECS pursue? What terms need glossing? How might ideas be implemented?

British Newspaper Archive: Not Burney (yet), But Still Useful

July 6, 2012

Launched this past November, the British Newspaper Archives is a joint project of the British Library and brightsolid online publishing. Over the next decade, this partnership is slated to digitize over 40 million pages of the BL’s newspaper collection. The site anticipates a wide audience that includes not only scholars but amateur historians, genealogists and more.

While the project often digitizes the original paper copies, it has also digitized from the BL’s microfilm copies because the process is faster and enables more pages to be made available in a shorter amount of time. The quality of the pages, however, does suffer as the website admits; unfortunately, this emphasis on speed means that the accuracy of the search results is forever sacrificed. That said, one can view the OCR text and correct it:

When viewing an image, the OCR text can be viewed via the left nav All Articles option. You can select an individual article and then select Show Article text and the text. This addictive option can be accessed by simply clicking the list of sections displayed and applying your own corrections. By correcting the text, you will be adding to the quality of the data that can be searched by others. Please note that during the launch period updates to corrections will take longer to appear. (“Getting Started”)

The site’s descriptive information suggests that the collection dates primarily from the nineteenth century on, but there are 24 eighteenth-century provincial newspaper titles available in the current collection (full list appears below). As of yet, there are no eighteenth-century London papers. Like Burney, the British Newspaper Archives is a subscription database. Unlike Burney, though, provisions for individual subscriptions exist. The rates also seem quite reasonable and offer an array of plans (credits refer to the number of views; each view “costs” 5 credits; the view option enables you to download or printing):

  • 12 Month Package (unlimited pages)
    Price: £79.95 GBP,       Valid For: 365 days       Credits: Unlimited*
  • 30 Day Package (up to 600 pages)
    Price: £29.95 GBP       Valid For: 30 days      Credits: 3000
  • 7 Day Package (up to 120 pages)
    Price: £9.95 GBP       Valid For: 7 days       Credits: 600
  • 2 Day Package (up to 100 pages)
    Price: £6.95 GBP       Valid For: 2 days      Credits: 500
  • Potential users are also able to register using an email address and receive 15 free credits—-a very limited trial of sorts.

    Searches can be conducted either as simple or advanced. The advanced search includes searching by “All of these words,” “Any of these words,” “Without these words,” and “Phrase.” You also have the option of applying filters such as dates, place of publication, publication title, or article type (advertisement, article, family notice, illustrated, miscellaneous). There is also the option of browsing by titles. Unfortunately, you cannot use the wildcard characters to help counteract the poor OCR, long “f,” or other typographical peculiarities that the Burney search interface provides. Nor does the BNA offer features similar to Burney’s search aids such as the “w” or “n” joined by a number to find two terms within a certain proximity of one another.

    Search results can be ordered by relevance or by date (either by ascending or descending order), and a glimpse of the context in which the search term results occur are given. For example,

    Ipswich Journal
    Sat 10 Jan 1784 Suffolk, England
    5 U F F O L K. 1 0 be Ll’. TT, ant! enlered upon immediatrly, THAT olil*aeculbmed Public Honic,
    8343 Words
    “SfMON PATERNOSTER of Wickhairi-market, to be agent for the faitl company for the town of Wiek- ham.market, and parts adjacent. The company infure lioufeS, bufrdings, … ?

    As this example demonstrates, the context provides the OCR text with all its warts. Still, it helps the user decide if the article is worth viewing and assists in conserving the credits in one’s account.

    CAVEAT: During my two-day exploration of the BNA, I encountered several cases in which I clicked to view an article only to discover the article was not on that page. Five credits were still deducted from my account and continued to be deducted as I browsed other pages in the issue. Once or twice I was not able to find the result at all; other times it appeared on a different page within that issue.

    Here is a list of eighteenth-century titles currently available in BNA:

    • Aberdeen Journal (105)
    • Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette (1989)
    • Birmingham Gazette (8)
    • Bristol Mercury (1)
    • Caledonian Mercury (7309)
    • Chelmsford Chronicle (329)
    • Derby Mercury (2595)
    • Hampshire Chronicle (1115)
    • Hampshire Telegraph (11)
    • Hereford Journal (982)
    • Ipswich Journal (1203)
    • Ipswich Journal, The (1296)
    • Kentish Gazette (374)
    • Leeds Intelligencer (2352)
    • Manchester Mercury (223)
    • Newcastle Courant (2561)
    • Norfolk Chronicle (1109)
    • Northampton Mercury (1625)
    • Oxford Journal (2434)
    • Reading Mercury (570)
    • Salisbury and Winchester Journal (17)
    • Scots Magazine, The (611)
    • Sherborne Mercury (256)
    • Sussex Advertiser (60)

Aggregating Resources and Building Digital Humanities Networks

June 11, 2012

The ever-growing interest in digital resources for humanities research and teaching has coincided with an increased desire for central sites that enable scholars to learn about appropriate digital tools, applications, and software. Bamboo DiRT (Digital Research Tools), inspired by Lisa Spiro’s DiRT wiki and part of Project Bamboo, is one site that fulfills this desire. Among the strengths of this directory of digital tools is the multiple ways to find resources. Clicking on the “View all” link, for instance, will take users to the site’s complete, annotated list of tools, from Adobe-based resources to Zotpress. The categories and tags page, accessible by clicking “Browse,” enables users to click on terms such as “data analysis” or “bibliographic management” and be taken to a descriptive list of relevant resources. On the I-want-to-do-X page, users can search for tools that will allow them to tackle particular tasks. These tasks range from analyzing data, to making screencasts or maps and transcribing handwritten or spoken texts. And users can also perform standard or advanced searches via keywords or phrases. More than just a directory, Bamboo DiRT allows registered users to comment on resources as well as share and recommend their own.

Perhaps because Bamboo DiRT is relatively new (publically debuting in 2012), comments and tips from users of various tools have, thus far, been sparse. Such contributions would complement the very brief yet still quite serviceable descriptions. Offering another variation of a digital clearinghouse, Josh Honn, a Digital Scholarship Library Fellow at Northwestern University’s Center for Scholarly Communication & Digital Curation and admiring user of Bamboo DiRT, has built his own resource hub, a Delicious “stack”. Currently consisting of 131 links to digital research software, applications, and tools, Honn’s Digital Scholarly Research Tools offers more commentary on various resources than Bamboo DiRT presently does, and it also often provides videos on specific tools. Although the stack benefits from its dynamic format, it lacks Bamboo DiRT’s multiple paths for finding tools.

Another development is the networked site. One such network is the UK’s Connected Histories. A collaborative project undertaken by the University of Hertfordshire, the Institute of Historical Research, University of London, and the University of Sheffield, this site currently contains fifteen separate resources including London Lives and John Strype’s Survey of London Online. A recipient of JISC funding, Connected Historiesenables cross-searching across the various databases. Some of its resources (for example, the 17th and 18th Century Burney collection), however, require subscriptions, so although US and other non-UK users can access much of Connected Histories, searching some databases are limited to subscription holders. This video offers an introduction to this network.

A similar development is the extended network that takes NINES, the nineteenth-century resource hub, as its inspiration. 18thConnect, discussed most recently in the previous post, was the first period resource to expand NINES coverage beyond the nineteenth century. Now, inspired by NINES and often funded by Mellon, other digital resource hubs devoted to particular historical periods are being created: Medieval Electronic Scholarly Alliance (MESA), REKn (Renaissance English Knowledgebase) and ModNets (Modernists). These sites are still in the planning and development stages, so there does not seem to be that much information available at the moment. Yet, one can read about REKn in this piece “Prototyping the Renaissance English Knowledgebase (REKn) and Professional Reading Environment (PReE), Past, Present, and Future Concerns: A Digital Humanities Project Narrative” and in this University of Victoria blog announcement REKn Joins World-leading NINES Initiative, ARC. Similarly, information about MESA, directed by directed by Dot Porter from Indiana University and Timothy Stinson at North Carolina State University, is available in a North Carolina State University’s blog announcement,“Modernizing the Medieval”, and in this announcement of a MESA – ARC (Advanced Research Consortium) meeting this past fall.

What do EMOB readers think about these developments? Would readers like interoperability among the various segments of the extended NINES network similar to that found in Connected Histories? Should professional scholarly organizations do more to publicize these clearinghouses for new resources, tools, and software and to promote these networked sites of databases and archives? Especially given the increasing eye towards transatlantic studies and more comparative global approaches, should our national professional societies do more for the scholars it represents by playing a leading role in encouraging the networking of international projects and resources?