Wikidata celebrated its sixth birthday on Monday, with celebrations, “data-thons” and cake around the world. Things move quickly in the world of Wikidata, so it’s time for sequel to my round-up from earlier this year.
A collaboration between the Bodleian’s Department of Special Collections and Centre for Digital Scholarship, and Cultures of Knowledge, a project based at the Faculty of History
We are looking for enthusiastic undergraduates and postgraduates from any discipline to take part in workshops in textual editing culminating in the publication of a citable transcription.
Sign up for a workshop: see below for details.
After two successful series, we are entering the third year of Bodleian Student Editions workshops, held in the Weston Library’s Centre for Digital Scholarship. There will be 6 standalone workshops taking place in the year 2018-19, two per term, on the following dates:
Michaelmas Term 2018
- 10:00–16:30 Tuesday 5th week, 6 November
- 10:00–16:30 Wednesday 8th week, 28 November
Hilary Term 2018
- To be announced in Hilary
- To be announced in Hilary
Trinity Term 2018
- To be announced in Trinity
- To be announced in Trinity
Textual editing is the process by which a manuscript reaches its audience in print or digital form. The texts we read in printed books are dependent on the choices of editors across the years, some obscured more than others. The past few years have seen an insurgence in interest in curated media, and the advent of new means of distribution has inspired increasingly charged debates about what is chosen to be edited, by whom and for whom.
These workshops give students the opportunity to examine these questions of research practice in a space designed around the sources at the heart of them. The Bodleian Libraries’ vast collections give students direct access to important ideas free from years of mediation, and to authorial processes in their entirety, while new digital tools allow greater space to showcase the lives of ordinary people who may not feature in traditional narrative history.
Our focus is on letters of the early modern period: a unique, obsolescent medium, by which the ideas which shaped our civilisation were communicated and developed. Participants will study previously unpublished manuscripts from Bodleian collections, working with Bodleian curators and staff of Cultures of Knowledge (http://www.culturesofknowledge.org), to produce a digital transcription, which will be published on the flagship resource site of Cultures of Knowledge, Early Modern Letters Online (http://emlo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk), as ‘Bodleian Student Editions’.
The sessions are standalone, but participants in previous workshops have gone on to further transcription work with Bodleian collections and with research projects around the country, as well as producing the first scholarship on some of the manuscripts by incorporating material in their own research (from undergraduate to doctorate level). The first-hand experience with primary sources, and citable transcription, extremely useful for those wishing to apply for postgraduate study in areas where this is valued: one participant successfully proceeded from a BA in Biological Sciences to an MA in Early Modern Literature on the basis of having attended.
The sessions provide a hands-on introduction to the following:
- Special Collections handling
- Palaeography and transcription
- Metadata curation, analysis, and input into Early Modern Letters Online
- Research and publication ethics
- Digital tools for scholarship and further training available
You can read about research conducted in previous workshops here. To hear about future textual editing workshops and other events as they are advertised, please join the digital scholarship mailing list.
Participation is open to students registered for any course at the University of Oxford. If you would like to participate, please contact Francesca Barr, Special Collections Administrator, firstname.lastname@example.org, and include:
- your ox.ac.uk email address
- your department
- your level and year of study
- particular access requirements
- particular dietary requirements
Please note that owing to the workshops being oversubscribed both years running, we can only confirm places on this term’s workshops. You may register your interest in subsequent workshops, and will be notified of the dates for each term before they are advertised more widely.
The Bodleian Libraries welcome thoughts and queries from students of all levels on ways in which the use of archival material can facilitate your research. For an idea of the range of collections in the Weston, visit the exhibition Sappho to Suffrage: Women Who Dared in the Treasury gallery in Blackwell Hall (http://treasures.bodleian.ox.ac.uk), which showcases some of the Bodleian’s most treasured items in celebration of 100 years of suffrage. Our current flagship exhibition, Tolkien: Maker of Middle Earth is open in the ST Lee Gallery until 28 October; entry is free but timed, and tickets are available at the Information Desk in Blackwell Hall, or online for a £1 booking fee (https://tolkien.bodleian.ox.ac.uk).
What: Digitizing the Stage
When: 15–18 July 2019
Where: Weston Library Lecture Theatre (map)
Registration: required—please see the conference website to sign up for notices
Together with the Folger Shakespeare Library, the Bodleian Libraries’ Centre for Digital Scholarship is delighted to announce that Digitizing the Stage will return next summer. The event will take place on 15–18 July 2019 at the Weston Library. There will be a small pre-conference workshop preceding the three-day, single-stream conference, which will have a renewed emphasis on performance. More information can be found on https://www.digitizingthestage.com.
The inaugural conference in 2017 gathered scholars, librarians, theatre professionals, and others in a convivial and productive series of talks and demonstrations highlighting digital explorations of the early modern theatre archive. The success of the event was due in no small part to the energy, creativity, and thoughtfulness of the participants, for which we remain profoundly appreciative. Thank you for your interest and participation.
If you would like to stay informed about conference developments, including the upcoming call for proposals, please email the Folger Shakespeare Library via email@example.com to be added to the 2019 mailing list.
I previously wrote about how easy it is to describe a GLAM collection item in Wikidata: it’s quicker than writing a blog post in WordPress and the resulting data are endlessly reusable. This time I’ll go into more detail about using Wikidata’s interface to describe items from museum collections, and announcing a new tool to browse the aggregated collection.
The Museum of the History of Science recently shared catalogue data about its outstanding collection of 165 astrolabes on Wikidata. Although Wikidata already had the power to describe astrolabes, very few had been entered, so this donation is a huge leap forward. If nothing comes to mind when I say “astrolabes”, here’s an image gallery generated by a query on Wikidata.
I’m going to take a random entry from David A. King’s “A Catalogue of Medieval
Astronomical Instruments” and describe it in Wikidata. Having checked that it isn’t already there, I click “Create new item” on the left hand side of any Wikidata page. At first I’ll be asked for a name and one-line description in my chosen language.
We regret that this workshop has been cancelled. Please contact the organizers (see below) to find out more about their work on Digital Delius.
This workshop is open to anyone conducting or interested in pursuing research in music and musicology, who would like to learn more about using digital techniques. Undergraduates and postgraduates are most welcome.
Book a place by emailing Joanna Bullivant: please see below for details.
What: Digital Delius: Editing, Interpretation, and Cataloguing—workshop
When: 10:00–17:00, Thursday 11 October 2018
Where: Centre for Digital Scholarship, Weston Library (map)
Open to all
Registration is required: please email Joanna Bullivant (firstname.lastname@example.org) by 1 October 2018 with your name, email address, and access and dietary requirements.
How might digital technologies enrich your musicological research in editing, interpretation, and cataloguing, and help you to present your work to others?
We hear increasingly about the importance and possibilities of digital methodologies, but it is not always easy to know how to go about using digital techniques in tandem with more traditional research, or what the benefits of these techniques might be. This workshop uses the ongoing project ‘Digital Delius’ as a case study, showing how a variety of digital techniques and software are being used to cast light on such critical areas of Delius research as sources and variants, editing, interpretation, and cataloguing. The aim is to introduce work in progress and provide a series of guided practical exercises to help participants to gain awareness of skills and methods that can be applied in their own research.
Joanna Bullivant is a musicologist, currently a postdoctoral researcher in the Faculty of Music, University of Oxford. She has created the forthcoming digital catalogue of Delius’s works, and is part of the team creating an interactive digital exhibition on Delius for the British Library as part of their new Discovering Music web space.
David Lewis is a researcher based at the Oxford e-Research Centre and the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. He has recently worked on projects at Goldsmiths, University of London, Universität des Saarlandes and Universiteit Utrecht. He has worked on online resources for instrumental music (Electronic Corpus of Lute Music), music theory (Johannes Tinctoris: Complete Theoretical Works and Thesaurus Musicarum Italicarum) and work catalogues (Delius Catalogue of Works). His current research explores uses of Linked Data to support and extend the exploration and sharing of musical information and research.
To register, please email Joanna Bullivant (email@example.com) by 1 October 2018 with:
- Your name
- Current status/research interests (undergraduate, postgraduate etc)
- Your email address
- Access or dietary requirements
What: Romantic poetry and technical breakthrough: the Charles Harpur Critical Archive
Who: Paul Eggert
When: 13:00—14:00, Wednesday 7 March 2018
Where: Weston Library Lecture Theatre (map)
Access: open to all
This talk will show a new technical solution to an abiding problem – presenting a large body of literary works in multiple versions. It has been trialled in The Charles Harpur Critical Archive, due to be published in June.
Harpur’s work in New South Wales in the mid-19th century makes a perfect case study of the technology. His verses made 900 appearances in the press, but publishing opportunities for him other than in newspapers were almost non-existent. A digital solution addresses the textual problems that defeated the attempts to capture the full range of his poetic achievement in book form.
Paul Eggert is the Martin J Svaglic Endowed Professor of Textual Studies at Loyola University Chicago, and former president of the Society for Textual Scholarship.
You are warmly invited to join us at the second day-long workshop on Digital Approaches to the History of Science. These workshops are supported and co-organized by the Reading Euclid project, the Newton Project, the Royal Society, and the Centre for Digital Scholarship.
Digital Approaches to the History of Science
—Life out of a coffin—
When: 9:30—17:00, Friday 23 March 2018
Where: Faculty of History, University of Oxford, 41–47 George Street OX1 2BE (map)
Access: all are welcome—see below for information on travel bursaries
Admission: free, refreshments and lunch included
Our second one-day workshop will showcase and explore some current work at the intersection of digital scholarship and the history of science. Visualizing networks of correspondence, mapping intellectual geographies, mining textual corpora: many modes of digital scholarship have special relevance to the problems and methods of the history of science, and the last few years have seen the launch of a number of new platforms and projects in this area.
With contributions from projects around the UK and from elsewhere in Europe, these two workshops will be an opportunity to share ideas, to reflect on what is being achieved and to consider what might be done next.
Confirmed speakers include:
- Richard Dunn: the Board of Longitude Project
- Christy Henshaw: the Wellcome Collection
- Miranda Lewis, Howard Hotson, Arno Bosse: Cultures of Knowledge
- Robert McNamee: Electronic Enlightenment Project
- Grant Miller: Zooniverse Project Builder
- Yelda Nasifoglu: Hooke’s Books
- Tobias Schweizer, Sepideh Alassi: Bernoulli-Euler Online (BEOL)
- Sally Shuttleworth: Diseases of Modern Life or Constructing Scientific Communities
We have taken inspiration from William Stukely’s isolation and seek to converse, as it were, out of a coffin:
in my situation at Stamford there was not one person, clergy or lay, that had any taste or love of learning or ingenuity, so that I was as much dead in converse as in a coffin
We are delighted to be able to offer travel bursaries to enable students and early career researchers (up to 3 years beyond the award of most recent degree) to attend. If you would like to apply for a bursary, please contact co-organizer Yelda Nasifoglu on firstname.lastname@example.org, providing:
- Your name
- Your institution
- Your level of study/year of award of most recent degree
- Travelling from
- Estimate of travel cost
These workshops are organized by:
Lukis, ed. ‘Family Memoirs’, vol. I (1882), p.109, cited in Michael Reed, ‘The cultural role of small towns in England, 1600–1800’, in Peter Clark, Small Towns in Early Modern Europe (Cambridge: CUP, 1882), p.147, via Google Books.
Tycho Brahe, Tabulae Rudolphinae (Ulm, 1627), frontispiece. Bodleian Library Savile Q 14. Edited in Photoshop by Yelda Nasifoglu.
René Descartes, Principia philosophiae (Amsterdam, 1644), ‘Cartesian network of vortices of celestial motion’, p. 110. Bodleian Library Savile T 22. Edited in Photoshop by Yelda Nasifoglu.
A new season of Bodleian Student Editions workshops began on 23 November. You can read more about them on our blog.
We continue to add letters to the Early Modern Letters Online (EMLO) database from correspondence in the Bodleian’s manuscript collections. The challenge is to find material that is unpublished, readable (for people without previous palaeographical experience), interesting, and in good condition, as the students work with the original documents in the workshop.
This year, as well as continuing transcriptions of the 27 letters of James, Duke of York, begun in last year’s workshops, we have also embarked upon a new series of letters written by Penelope Maitland (née Madan; 1730–1805) to her friend Charlotte West (née Perry; 1769–1860). The Maitland letters provide a wonderful insight into a fascinating family around the time of the French Revolution and the wars with France, events which were to have a deep impact on both Maitland and her correspondent.
The letters (ref. MSS. 6633) came to the Library in 2011, a very generous gift of mother and daughter, Pat and Charlotte Kinnear, descendants of Charlotte West (née Perry). They had discovered, through the Bodleian’s online catalogue, that some of Penelope Maitland’s papers were already in our collections. In fact, Maitland’s maiden name was Madan and she was related to an ancestor of Falconer Madan (1851–1935), Bodley’s Librarian from 1912 to 1919. We learn of Maitland’s remarkable connections in Falconer Madan’s account of his family (The Madan Family, 1933): she was the younger daughter of Colonel Martin Madan, MP, an equerry to Prince Frederick, and the poet Judith Cowper (1702–1781); and she was a cousin of poet William Cowper (1731–1800). Penelope Madan married Sir Alexander Maitland (1728–1820), 1st Baronet, a general in the British Army, and a younger son of Charles Maitland, 6th Earl of Lauderdale. From 1749 she formed an attachment to the Methodists and became acquainted with the Wesleys. Papers of Madan family members including Maitland, her parents, her sister Maria Frances Cecilia Cowper (also a poet), and daughter-in-law Helen Maitland were given to the library in 1967.
Maitland’s letters to Charlotte West date from the last two decades of her long life. West was nearly forty years younger and had known the older woman since she was a child in their home village of Totteridge, Hertfordshire. After completing her education in France at a Benedictine convent, West (Perry at the time) lived with her father Sampson Perry in London. In 1788 she eloped with Charles Augustus West, a page to George III, and they were married secretly at Gretna Green. A year later, the marriage was formalized at St Luke’s, Chelsea. Charles Augustus West became an army officer and was serving in Egypt and then Flanders at the time the letters were written. This gave the two women something else in common, as Maitland also had family members at war: her son Lieutenant-Colonel Augustus Maitland was killed in action in the Low Countries in 1799, while another son, Frederick, attained the rank of General. At the time of the letters, he was commanding marines at sea, and in 1796 he was appointed secretary to General Sir Ralph Abercromby, with whom he travelled to the West Indies, much to Maitland’s dismay.
The letters transcribed in the first workshop of the series all date from 1789, and are full of local interest and colour. A long letter written between 16 and 25 March 1789 gives an alarming account of a fire in the Maitland household, and discusses remedies for a daughter’s ill health (‘I gave her Calves foot Jelly every morning ½ pint — wch took Some good effect, but she receiv’d much more from Steel drops taken once a day …’). There is also a glimpse of the work of West’s father, Sampson Perry, editor of a newspaper called The Argus. Evidently anxious to support her friends’ endeavour, Maitland offers a curiously circumspect endorsement of the paper’s literary qualities:
Tell your Father, I am much flatter’d by his asking my opinion of the Argus. I really am ill qualify’d for a Critic. But as far as my very poor judgment goes, it appears a Paper preferable to any I have seen on several accounts, and if its Success Equals my wishes, it will Exceed all others in that respect also — the Paper, the Printing, are excelling any—and the Intelligence seems not at all inferior as to Quantity & as to quality, there is variety & entertainment …
There is a great deal more to Maitland’s reservations than at first appears. The conservative-minded Maitland has just begun to realize that there is something different about this paper which counteracts her desire to support it for West’s sake:
one objection have I to beg pardon for suggesting in respect of the Political Part, — I think it savours of the Opposite Party — it would Be an absolute greif to me that any of my Freinds, especially my Particular Freinds, should ever imbibe their Contagion …
The Argus was in fact a radical independent newspaper. Sampson Perry was a sometime surgeon, author, and military commander who was waging war on the government through his paper, which led to his conviction for libel. In 1792 he fled to France, only to be imprisoned by the Revolutionary regime. In 1794 he returned to England in disguise, but was arrested and sent to Newgate, an incident noted by a disapproving Maitland in a letter of 2 April 1795.
As well as her perspective on important events of her time, Maitland’s letters to West chronicle her personal tribulations: the illnesses of herself and her children, and her problems living under the eye of a rather controlling husband in their home in Totteridge. Her resilience and wit emerge in her epistolary codenames for her family. Her husband is referred to as ‘The General’ (usually abbreviated to G–l), while she calls herself the ‘Abbess’, and her daughters, also named Penelope and Charlotte, ‘the Nuns’, or ‘Vesta’ and ‘Vitula’.
Maitland’s correspondence with West adds another layer to our intricate picture of the lives of this literary family. It is particularly exciting for us to see Bodleian manuscripts, with relevance to characters from the history of the library itself, made more widely available through the combined efforts of library readers from both in and outside the University—both family members of the correspondents and students.
As with previous workshops, it was the chance to handle original manuscripts—in many cases for the first time—and discover the ‘human aspect shining through the letters’ that was the highlight for the student participants, who represented a wide range of degree courses including Chemistry, Engineering, Geography, Music, Classics, and History. Those working on Maitland’s letters were keen to compare examples of her idiosyncrasies and ‘peculiar humour’, while discussing wider questions such as the ways in which ‘different intentions and areas of interest affect what will be preserved in a transcription’. The workshops continue to show how students at different levels and in different disciplines can work with manuscript sources and digital technologies in collaboration with library and faculty staff to increase access to Bodleian collections in their scholarly contexts, and find new areas to explore.
—Mike Webb, Curator of Early Modern Archives and Manuscripts
Register by email: see below for details
What: Working with digital text: a hands-on introduction to basic computational techniques
When: 10:00—16:30, Thursday 22 and Friday 23 February 2018
Where: Centre for Digital Scholarship, Weston Library (map)
Open to members of the University
Registration is required: please email Emma Stanford with your name, ox.ac.uk email address, department and study/career level
This introductory two-day workshop will help students and researchers get to grips with basic computational analysis methods. It is aimed at an introductory level and will be useful to anyone seeking to work with large amounts of textual data. The workshop builds sequentially on its sessions and attendance at both days is required.
Over two days of demonstrations and hands-on training sessions, the workshop will cover:
- Online text corpora: What’s out there and how to use it
- The surprising amount of text-mining you can do with Microsoft Word, Excel and Notepad
- XML, XPath and XQuery: Textual encoding and getting answers back
- Using statistics to avoid your own gaffes and spot other people’s
- Beginning Python programming for the working with text at scale
Please note that catering is not provided.
The workshop is part of the Travelling Roadshow led by Gabriel Egan, Director of the Centre for Textual Studies at De Montfort University, with funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and is hosted by the Wolfson College Digital Research Cluster and the Bodleian Libraries’ Centre for Digital Scholarship.
NOTE: attendees are requested to bring a laptop with the latest version of Python and oXygen XML Editor. As a member of the University, using your Single Sign-On you can download oXygen and the required licence free of charge, via IT Services’ Software Registration and Download. If you cannot bring a laptop with you, please let us know before the day.
Registration is required as places are limited. The event is open to members of the University of Oxford only.
To register, please email Emma Stanford (email@example.com) with:
- Your name
- Your ox.ac.uk email address
- Your department and study/career level
Identity fusion is a concept central to a lot of research in social psychology and cognitive anthropology. So it is understandable that a member of an anthropology research group wrote an explanation of this concept for Wikipedia, explaining the idea to the widest possible audience and citing the key papers.
Unfortunately, writing an article and getting it accepted by Wikipedia are different things. The draft was rejected multiple times and eventually deleted, removing hours of work. Many academics have at least heard of a similar experience and it can be very discouraging. However, these stories can have a happy ending. We were able to get the draft back and post it as an article where it became one of the top two search engine hits for its topic. This article is about that process, and what academics can do to make sure their articles are accepted by Wikipedia. Continue reading