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Everything posted by Jonathan

  1. Hello Everyone! I know it's been a while since I've posted a blog entry. Teaching five classes last semester did not leave me with much time to explore new resources. I just learned about a new resource today that I think will be useful to a wide variety of historians. British universities have been working very hard to tell the story of race and slavery in the UK, and we have a new resource to go along with some of those already featured on this site such as the Legacies of British Slave Ownership Database. This latest resource is the Runaway Slaves in Britain database. This project explores a variety of English and Scottish newspapers and then cataloged and digitized escaped slave advertisements. Runaway Slaves goes a long way towards telling the story of slavery in Britain from 1700-1780 (before the major era of abolition). This will be a very important resource for all those interested in slavery and the British Atlantic World in the 18th century.
  2. The National Endowment for the Humanities has just launched a brand new website called "NEH For All." This is a detailed collection of all projects using NEH grants across the country demonstrating just how valuable this organization is for the humanities in the United States. It is well worth some time exploring the fascinating programs benefitting from these grants. The site allows you to search by state or by type of program. Go visit their site today to see how the NEH supports cultural programs in your state!
  3. Hello, Everyone, The semester is in full swing, and I am sure that like me you are extremely busy. I thought I would take a minute to talk about a recent assignment I assigned my students utilizing a digital humanities project. This is also a request for others to share their experiences using digital humanities to get students engaged in our fields. Briefly, I recently asked my students to use the Slave Voyages website. I assigned them a particular ship, which in this case was one that left from Boston, Massachusetts. They were then asked to compare and contrast this ship to others from roughly the same period answering the question "Was the voyage of the Neptune indicative of the slave trade as a whole?" This was intentionally open-ended to allow them to pursue their investigation in any way they saw fit. The results were pretty mixed. Many students felt that the assignment needed more structure, or they found the database confusing. Oftentimes, they became frustrated by the lack of information available. After some reflection, I think that this assignment is useful but requires a lot more preparatory work before setting students loose in the database. So, I am curious. Have any of you ever had an assignment that you thought would be really great, and it ended up not working out quite as well as you expected? I am curious to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
  4. Hello, Everyone! A friend of mine posted an article on Facebook the other day about obscure Medieval texts which have been translated and posted online as part of Stanford's Global Medieval Sourcebook. As I am teaching a section of History of Civilization to 1500 this semester it immediately caught my attention. What is really exciting about this project is its attempt to offer a global perspective. This first release has material from China to France. The images alone are fantastic! It is also a collaborative project that seeks to have scholars help supply context to the documents. If you are interested, check out the project here. Let me know what you think about this new resource in the comments below. We will be adding a full review of this new resource in the near future!
  5. I am going to call this a preliminary review because I visited very soon after the museum reopened after a multi-year £20 million renovation, and it was clear that there were still some kinks to figure out. The museum itself is essentially brand new, and if you are a military history buff absolutely worth a visit in itself. I am going to confine my comments to my interactions with the Templar Study Center, the archival portion of the museum. First, the staff at the Templar study center are extremely helpful even those who are volunteers. The primary archivist is intimately aware of the materials the museum holds, and I found him really open to my project and research. I was really pleased with every interaction with the employees here. Location: The museum is located right by the historic Chelsea Hospital for military veterans. It is about a 10-15 minute walk from Sloane Square Tube stop, and it is easily accessible via bus if you do not want to walk. The Templar Study Center is well lit, even though it is located in the basement of the building. There is a sky light that lets lots of light into the room. The seating is limited, so it would be best if you email ahead of time to reserve space. I got lucky and was able to just walk in, but I would not count on that in the future as more people become aware of the museum. What to Know: The online catalog is not very helpful. This is a military museum, and they do not have much mention of gender/sexuality. For example, I was looking through an officer's personal papers and discovered a trove of correspondence written by his wife. There was no mention of this in the archive's catalogs. The system for requesting documents is still a bit old-school. You have to fill out a separate request form for each document, which a volunteer will then go try to find. Despite being recently reopened, there are still a number of items that I requested which did not exist or could not be found. The staff is rather slow to respond to emails. This poses a difficult challenge for international researchers. This is something that I feel will improve with time, but for now be sure that you give them at least a month to respond to your emails. It is important to note that I do believe that these issues will improve with time. The staff was extremely helpful, and I strongly recommend this archive for anyone interested in the history of the British Army. It is an invaluable resource.
  6. It has been a while since I have blogged for this site. The spring semester got crazy, and then I spent quite a bit of my summer visiting archives and working on research projects. I spent two weeks at the end of May working in the National Army Museum archive in London and back at the British Library. I wanted to take a quick moment to encourage you all to provide a review for any archives you may have visited recently. In other news, I am preparing two new classes for the Fall semester, so I will be adding more US focused digital archives over the next couple of months. I hope you have had a productive summer filled with research and writing, or just relaxation. Please contact us for information about contributing to the site!
  7. It's been a while since I have uploaded a new blog entry. To be honest, I got totally swamped by the semester. I had the opportunity to teach a U.S. History survey class this semester that focused on the end of Reconstruction to the present. One of the unifying themes that my students and I have discussed is the use of racial violence to support white supremacy in the United States from the end of Reconstruction to the present. At times, this has been an emotional and fraught experience. I recently came across an article in the Smithsonian Magazine that talked about a new digital history project that maps every incident of racial violence or lynchings from 1877 to the present nationwide. It provides details about every lynching recorded. This is an amazing resource, and I cannot wait to share it with my students soon. I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts in the comment below. Please feel free to contribute your own tips, hints, or resources in a blog entry on this site!
  8. Between 1900 and 1960, Reno, Nevada served as the divorce capital of the world. This new website seeks to make the history of divorce in Reno more accessible to the public and scholars. This new site provides a glimpse into the variety of divorce cases, both everyday citizens and celebrities, who utilized Nevada's relaxed divorce laws during this period to dissolve their marriages. The database contains hundreds of digitized images, publications, documents, and media. What to Know: The search feature is quite flexible. You can search by theme, decade, format, or keyword. This is an excellent resource for anyone interested in gender/sexuality, marriage and the family, legal, and political history.
  9. The Spectator first emerged in 1828 promising to "convey intelligence." This archive contains digitized copies of every edition of the newspaper from 1828 to 2008. The Spectator represents an extremely important source for political and cultural information regarding Britain and its colonies. There are two key ways to use the database. First, you can browse by issue if you are looking for a specific date. This is great for providing context. Secondly, you can search the database by keyword, topic, location, or date. The search feature is really quite good with this project. What to Know: Some of the transcriptions are not extremely accurate. Wherever possible, it is much better to actually view the scanned pages. The search feature is really useful, and it seems to do a good job of keeping results fairly accurate.
  10. From 1830 until well after the American Civil War, Free Blacks and Fugitive slaves met in state and national "conventions" to discuss important issues such as education, labor, and legal justice. This new Digital Humanities project seeks to understand the social worlds and collective organizing potential of these conventions. While the delegations were overwhelmingly male, this project also seeks to recover black women's participation and voice. This is an ongoing project, and the developers are actively seeking assistance in transcribing session minutes and other documentation. Perhaps most useful for many of us who teach are the really useful teaching guides included on the website. What to know: This is an ongoing project, so there are areas of the site that seem incomplete at the moment. The search function is limited, but I found it very easy to browse the site.
  11. I hope everyone has had a great holiday season! I've spent a significant part of the break continuing to look for new digital history projects that we can discuss here at Research Freedom. I am also preparing to teach two new classes this spring, so I have been really interested in new potential teaching tools. This is where Histography comes in. It's a new interactive historical timeline, where every dot represents a significant moment in world history. The great thing about this is that it allows you to access the Wikipedia page for additional information. I also really like the "Editorial Stories" part of the site. This provides access to videos, the Wikipedia page, and related resources. This is a more in-depth discussion of the topics. I think that this will be a great way for students to visualize history, and I am looking forward to showing my classes this Spring. Check out Histography for yourself. Let me know what you think below.
  12. The Liberated Africans Project explores what happened to 200,000 emancipated Africans as a part of the international movement to abolish the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The really interesting thing about this project is that it is extremely collaborative. One of the major issues with researching this topic has been that the information is spread in archives across the world and in multiple languages. The key source material for this project are the Vice Admiralty Courts. These courts handled all of the cases where the British Navy seized slave ships off the coast of Africa. This site is currently under development, but it will eventually have thousands of records from Cuba, Brazil, and Sierra Leone. Aside from the Vice Admiralty Courts, the site also contains an image library that is really useful. This is a great teaching resource. Image Credit: The Liberated Africans Project See our resource review here.
  13. I came across this really interesting new Digital Humanities project called HistoryQuest DC the other day. It is an interactive GIS map that provides historic data on over 127,000 buildings. I think what I like the most about this project are the multiple layers of data available with the click of a button. It contains information on historic neighborhoods, allows you to trace the development of the city from the 1790s until now, and even lets you look at DC as L'Enfant planned it in the 1790s. The project has its beginning with the DC Historic Buildings Permit database. According to the creators, this database provided 85% of the data used to create the maps. However, this is chronologically limited. The office issued its first permit in 1877 and ended operations in 1949. This is a project in development, and as such it will continue to become even more impressive over the next few years. Check out the project here.
  14. The British abolished the Transatlantic Slave Trade in 1807, and in 1808 they seized the colony of Sierra Leone from a company and placed it under state authority in the form of a Vice Admiralty Court. The Vice Admiralty Courts and the British Navy would spend the next six decades patrolling the coast of Africa and seizing illegally captured Africans. In total, the courts would oversee the emancipation of over 200,000 Africans. The Vice Admiralty Courts documents provide a unique lens into the lives and experiences of the enslaved and emancipated. However, they are scattered in numerous archives (throughout multiple countries) and they are often in numerous languages. This meant that it became extraordinarily difficult for one historian to make sense of everything. This is where the Liberated Africans Project comes into play. This is a collaborative project. The aim of the project is to bring together as much data as possible about the 200,000 emancipated persons. What to Know: This is an ongoing project and at this point is a bit limited. Over time, this should become an extraordinarily useful and important project. It should be used in conjunction with the Voyages: The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database, Slave Biographies: The Atlantic Database Network, and the Ecclesiastical & Secular Sources for Slave Societies database.
  15. There's a really fascinating article in the Washington Post Lifestyle section about the history of the National Mall in Washington, D.C. from its original plan in 1791 to today. While this is not really "research" focused, it does make for an interesting discussion on public engagement and the use of digital sources to tell stories. The use of maps, though modern, shows how the mall transformed over the past 225 years. The article demonstrates the many ways in which public pressure has resulted in the configuration of the Mall. It is the most sought after space in Washington, D.C. with various interest groups seeking to open their own museums/monuments to key figures. We've seen this over the last couple of decades as women seek to get permission and funds to build the Women's History Museum. There is also a significant move towards opening a Latin American history museum on the Mall. In 2003, Congress essentially called the project of the National Mall complete. Yet, we saw the opening of the African American History and Culture museum this year, and there is a new reception space opening by the Vietnam War memorial this year. The National Mall represents one of the most important public spaces in the United States. It has been the site of the most important protests and rallies in our recent history from Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech to the Million-Man March. This space has a fascinating history. Check out the article here.
  16. Studies in Scarlet provides images of over 420 separately published trial narratives from the Harvard Law School Library's extensive collections. The collection provides a number of celebrity cases from Oscar Wilde's sodomy trial to the Queen Caroline Divorce Case. However, perhaps more importantly are the trial transcripts of everyday citizens. This collection provides American, British, and Irish trial transcripts from 1815 to 1914 involving bigamy, domestic violence, seduction, breach of promise, children's custody, alongside rape and murder trials. This provides an extraordinary resource for social and cultural historians, particularly those interested in women's history of the history of gender/sexuality. What to Know: The search function is somewhat limited, but I find the browse by topic option really useful. I really like the fact that you can request to save a document to PDF. If the document is more than ten pages, the site will email you a PDF. This website is particularly suited to having undergraduates do primary source research projects.
  17. This is one of the most important newsreel archives in Britain, if not in the world. It contains over 85,000 films spanning the years 1896-1976. These are of immense social and cultural importance, and they are made freely available through the website listed above and on a dedicated YouTube channel. This collection includes footage from around the world of major events, science and culture, celebrities, and fashion trends. This material is invaluable for researchers and teachers alike. This provides an intimate glimpse into the British Empire through film. It also provides important cultural, political, and social insight into global events from a unique British perspective. What to Know: You can view the films in their entirety either through the website mentioned above or their dedicated YouTube channel. The search feature works really well. I particularly like to browse by theme option. The breadth of material here is quite astounding. It really is a massively important resource.
  18. The Yorkshire Film Archive is housed at the York St. John's University. The project seeks to preserve all moving images made in or about Yorkshire with a collection of over 50,000 titles dating from the 1890s to modern day. At the moment, there is about 80 hours worth of film available online. The rest of the collection can be viewed in person, provided that you schedule an appointment in advance. What to Know: The search feature is quite good. I particularly like that you can search by theme. The 80 hours of content online provides an excellent teaching resource to provide a local perspective to often national surveys.
  19. Punch was one of the most popular and important newspapers of 19th Century Britain. The magazine began publication in 1841 and continued until 1992. There was a brief attempt to revive publication, but this failed in 2002. This archive seeks to catalogue digitization projects across a broad range of platforms. It forms the closest thing to a central repository of digitized editions of Punch as currently exists. For those unfamiliar with the magazine, Punch was an illustrated satirical and political newspaper published originally by Henry Mayhew (of "The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon" fame) and engraver, Ebenezer Landells. The first edition appeared in 1841. The newspaper is best known for its amazing cartoons, really creating the idea of the political cartoon as we know it today. However, the editors insisted on a high literary content as well. The newspaper discussed topics of interest both domestically and throughout the empire. It frequently satirized politicians, particularly Benjamin Disraeli and the Conservatives. It arose during the Chartist movement and entered its golden age in the 1860s and 1870s. This is an absolutely essential source for anyone interested in Victorian social and cultural history. What to know: This site is really just a repository for other digitization projects. There is no search feature. They do not have the full run of Punch. For that, you would need to visit the British Library. However, they have very good coverage from 1850 to 1922.
  20. This is the official record of the British Parliament from 1803 to 2005. It is important to note that the website provides a limited search function, and the material is presented in a very basic format. Despite these issues, this is an incredibly important resource for anyone interested in British history. This contains records of every parliamentary debate. You can search by year, by individual, or keyword. The site also contains some limited personal information regarding Members of Parliament.
  21. This project sought to provide a spatial and temporal analysis of the voluntary hospitals between the 1890s and 1940s. The key questions were: first, how did patterns of provision and utilisation differ by area, and how did these change over time? Second, how did the distribution of charitable financing vary by place, and what were the trends in income and expenditure? John Mohan and Martin Powell, along with their team, created the database between 1996 and 1999 using Oracle at the University of Portsmouth in the UK. In 2008/2009, the database was moved to the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The project draws on Burdett’s Hospitals and Charities: The Year Book of Philanthropy and Hospital Annual, published between 1892 and 1930, and then The Hospital's Yearbook, published from 1928. For the period 1921-1928, the team used the following sources: Order of St John’s Third - Ninth Annual Report on the Voluntary Hospitals in Great Britain (excluding London) and the King Edward's Hospital Fund for London, Statistical Summary. What to Know: This is primarily quantitative data. There is no qualitative data provided regarding the hospitals. However, the amount of quantitative data available is extremely impressive. The search feature requires you to find the hospital on a map. This can be frustrating at times.
  22. Thomas and Jane Carlyle were extraordinarily important members of the British literary elite. Their contemporaries were figures such as Charles Dickens, and Alfred Lord Tennyson. Both individuals were born in Scotland, though to very different families. They married in 1826, and then moved to London in 1834 where they became famous. This project argues that this couple is representative of everything that we conceive of as "Victorian." The project contains thousands of pages of correspondence between the Carlyle's and their many correspondents. It is possible to browse letters by recipient, subject, or by date/volume. This is an extraordinarily useful resource for anyone interested in social/cultural history of the early to mid-nineteenth century. What to Know: You cannot view the original letters through this database, so you do have to rely on others transcriptions. The search function is quite good. You can search by keyword and limit by date. There is also a "fuzzy search" option.
  23. This was an early digitization project that sought to create an online library of 18th and 19th century British journals and magazines from collections housed at Oxford, Birmingham, Leeds, and Manchester Universities. The project ended in 1999, so the quality of digitization is limited in part because of the age of the project. The goal sought to provide twenty year runs of six popular 18th and 19th century British journals. For the 18th century, the project has the following resources: Gentlemen's Magazine, The Annual Register, and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. For the 19th Century: Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Notes and Enquiries, and The Builder. What to Know: The limited scope means that the utility of the project is also restricted. The search function works, but it is not advanced. Technology has changed rapidly since 1999, so the quality of the digitization is not fantastic.
  24. This is the largest collection of Darwin materials published online. This website allows you to view the full texts of each of Darwin's publications and his personal papers and manuscripts. This is a great resource if you are from a small school with limited resources, as it allows you to assign the full text of any of Darwin's works from The Origin of Species to The Descent of Man. Perhaps more importantly, the website includes a large amount of Darwin's personal manuscripts. This is essential for anyone who studies the History of Science. What to Know: The sites design is not the most user-friendly. There are a number of search options. The search function works quite well. The site also includes every translation of Darwin's work.
  25. This is a project sponsored by the University of Cambridge, which provides full-text searchable records of over 8,500 pieces of correspondence Darwin wrote before 1871. There are an additional 6,500 letters that have not been fully digitized. Darwin wrote to more than 250 individuals from the 1840s until his death. The letters are only digitized and included on the website four years after they appear in the print version of Correspondence. Therefore, there is a bit of delay between the published and digitized versions. The letters rarely have date or information regarding the recipient, so the editors have used a number of different methodologies to account for this omission. The letters provide a fascinating insight into the life and work of Darwin. Many of the key correspondents were other Victorian scientists and naturalists. Darwin frequently used his correspondence to work through complicated theories and hypotheses. If you work in the history of science, you will likely recognize many of these names. However, it goes beyond merely professional acquaintances, and I think the most important contribution are Darwin's letters to his family and relatives. This provides insight into the personal life of one of the most important Victorians. What to know: This is an incredibly important project that provides insight into Darwin's life not otherwise available. While they clearly discuss the most important works, the focus on correspondence provides a more intimate view. I really like the learning resources tab. They provide examples for how to use the database for every level of education.