Research Uncovered—Illuminating David Livingstone’s 1870 Field Diary with Spectral Imaging

What: Illuminating David Livingstone’s 1870 Field Diary with Spectral Imaging

Who: Adrian S. Wisnicki, Megan Ward, Roger Easton, Keith Knox, James Cummings

When: 13:00—14:00, Wednesday 16 November 2016

Where: Centre for Digital Scholarship, Weston Library (map)

Access: all are welcome

Admission: free

Booking: registration is required

The Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project is an international digital humanities collaboration to apply advanced imaging technology to the study of the manuscript of Victorian explorer David Livingstone. Previously featured in a National Geographic documentary, the project has now concluded its second phase of research (2013–16) and members of the team including scholars and scientists will present on the results. The first phase (2010–13) confirmed that spectral imaging could be applied to recover “invisible” text in some of David Livingstone’s most damaged texts. In the new phase, the team takes the technology in a new direction—to study the material history of Livingstone’s 1870 Field Diary in order to understand its passage across space, time, and through many, many hands. The team will discuss the image processing techniques applied to the diary and how these techniques have helped uncover significant new information about the diary and the many environments through which it has circulated.

Dr Adrian S. Wisnicki is an assistant professor of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a faculty fellow of the university’s Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. His research focuses on the digital humanities, Victorian studies, and African studies. He directs Livingstone Online and the Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project and has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the British Academy, and the Modern Humanities Research Association.

Dr Megan Ward is an assistant professor of English at Oregon State University and Associate Director of Livingstone Online. She specializes in digital archives, material histories, technology studies, and Victorian realism, and is completing a book project titled Human Reproductions: Victorian Realist Character and Artificial Intelligence. She co-directs both Livingstone Online and the Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project.

Dr James Cummings is a Senior Academic Research Technology Specialist for IT Services at the University of Oxford. James is founding Director of the annual Digital Humanities at Oxford Summer School and previously chair of the TEI Consortium’s Technical Council. His PhD was in Medieval Studies from the University of Leeds and he was Director of Digital Medievalist (2009-2012).

Dr Roger Easton has been on the faculty of the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science of the Rochester Institute of Technology since 1986, where he teaches courses in imaging mathematics and optics. Since the mid 1990s, his research interests have focused on imaging tools for historical objects, primarily manuscripts. He was head of the imaging team for the Archimedes Palimpsest project and been a member of the teams for the David Livingstone Diaries, the Martellus World Map, and the palimpsests at St. Catherine’s Monastery.

Dr Keith Knox is an imaging scientist with the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library (EMEL). He has 40 years experience in conducting research in scanning, printing and astronomical image processing. Keith retired in 2015 to focus his efforts on the imaging and recovery of cultural heritage information from historical documents and artifacts.

Access: If you have a University or Bodleian Reader’s card, you can get to the Centre for Digital Scholarship through the Mackerras Reading Room on the first floor of the Weston Library, around the gallery. If you do not have access to the Weston Library you are more than welcome to attend the talk: please contact Pip Willcox before the event (

You can download a flyer for this talk.

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