X Close

UCLDH Blog

Home

Menu

Archive for the 'Digital Humanities' Category

UCLDH to participate in £14.5m Towards a National Collection

Lucy Stagg21 September 2021

The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) has awarded £14.5m to 5 research projects to connect the UK’s cultural artefacts and historical archives in new and transformative ways. The announcement today of the five major projects forming the largest investment of Towards a National Collection, a five-year research programme, reveals the first insights into how thousands of disparate collections could be explored by public audiences and academic researchers in the future. UCLDH is delighted to participate with The Sloane Lab: Looking back to build future shared collections (Principal Investigator: UCLDH Director, Professor Julianne Nyhan, UCL and TU Darmstadt). Project partners and collaborators include: British Museum, Natural History Museum, British Library, Historic Environment Scotland, Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, National Museums of Scotland, Community Archives and Heritage Group, Down County Museum, National Galleries of Scotland, Oxford University Herbaria, Collecting the West project funded by the Australian Research Council & metaphacts. The participatory methodology that the underpins the project will additionally allow ongoing research with a wide range of expert and interested communities over the coming years.

Case containing beetles from the Joseph Dandridge and Petiver collections

Collection of beetles, Case containing beetles from the Joseph Dandridge and Petiver collections. Some have Hans Sloane’s catalogue numbers. C0165553 ©The Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London

Focusing on the vast collections of Sir Hans Sloane in public institutions, this project will work with expert and interested communities including museum audiences to link the present with the past to allow the links between Sloane’s collections and catalogues to be re-established across the Natural History Museum, the British Library, and the British Museum (plus others that have relevant material). The main outcome of the project will be a freely available, online digital lab – the Sloane lab – that will offer researchers, curators and the public new opportunities to search, explore, and engage critically with key questions about our digital cultural heritage.

The project’s central questions include: How can we make specialist users and members of the public more aware of the contested nature of museum collections? What is the role of digital tools in facilitating discussions on imperialism, colonialism, slavery, loss and destruction, that have shaped the national collection? And who gets to contribute to, and shape, research on how memory institutions can reach across their institutional boundaries, subject-specialties and even countries so as to better support their audiences, visitors and users? Community Fellows will enhance the research, which will later form part of a traveling exhibition.

Project PI, Professor Julianne Nyhan, says of the project:

This exciting new project will devise automated and augmented means of mending the broken links between the past and present of the UK’s founding collection in the catalogues of the British Museum, Natural History Museum and the British Library. I am especially excited about the participatory design of the project, and the research with diverse publics that this funding will support. Our aim is to intertwine technological and participatory research, community consultation and public engagement, to embed diverse community views into the design, execution and validation of the Sloane Lab, and indeed, the future of the national collection.

Image by Colin McDowall, courtesy of Towards a National Collection

Image by Colin McDowall, courtesy of Towards a National Collection

The Towards a National Collection investigation is the largest of its kind to be undertaken to date, anywhere in the world. It involves 15 universities and 63 heritage collections and institutions of different scales, with more than 120 individual researchers and collaborators.

Professor Christopher Smith, Executive Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council said:

“This moment marks the start of the most ambitious phase of research and development we have ever undertaken as a country in the space where culture and heritage meet AI technology. Towards a National Collection is leading us to a long-term vision of a new national research infrastructure that will be of benefit to collections, researchers and audiences right across the UK.”

Dr Hartwig Fischer, Director of the British Museum said:

“This unprecedented investment of funding by the AHRC into these five projects will allow us to explore what the digital future for our organisations can and should be. A future where anyone can search across collections cared for in different parts of the UK, to pursue their passion for knowledge and understanding, discover their own pasts and answer their own questions. Towards a National Collection will strengthen Britain’s international leadership in this area. Each project in their own rightly deserves to be celebrated and I cannot wait to see what happens when we bring all this talent and dedication together to build the new future for our shared national collection.”

Rebecca Bailey, Programme Director, Towards a National Collection

“Today, for the first time, we can reveal the direction of travel for one of the UK’s most collaborative research programmes. Collectively, we aim to dissolve the disciplinary silos that exist in universities and public collections. Our driving mission is to open up global access to the UK’s world class collections. By harnessing emerging technologies to the creative interdisciplinary talents of our research teams, eventually everyone will have the ability to access an outstanding trove of stories, imagery and research linking together the limitless ideas and avenues in our national collections. From community archives to overlooked artists; from botanical specimens to the ship-wrecked Mary Rose.”

UCLDH research activity June 2021

Lucy Stagg30 June 2021

The UCLDH team have been busy as ever, despite continuing COVID-19 restrictions. Here’s just a few examples of recent activity:

Adam Crymble has published a monograph, Technology & the Historian: Transformations in the Digital Age (University of Illinois press, 2021) and a co-authored piece with Maria José Afanador-Llach (‘The Globally Unequal Promise of Digital Tools for History: UK and Colombia Case Study’ in Adele Nye (ed.) Teaching History for the Contemporary World (Springer, 2021), 85-98.).

Oliver Duke-Williams has been doing a lot of engagement work around the 2021 Census, including a radio interview with talkRadio. Read his co-authored blog on the The ebb and flow of UK census data

Julianne Nyhan has had various publications including  Named-entity recognition for early modern textual documents: a review of capabilities and challenges with strategies for the future. (Journal of Documentation, 2021. Co-authored with Marco Humbel, Andreas Vlachidis, Kim Sloan and Alexandra Ortolja-Baird)

Patrick White  has been co-leading a workshop series called Working With Code in collaboration with Research IT services, for Slade students making work in different coding environments such as Godot (game engine), Arduino (micro-controllers), Sonic Pi (live music production based on Ruby), and P5 (JavaScript version of Processing environment).

Tim Williams has been working on the Central Asian Archaeological Landscapes project. Their geospatial database, managed in QGIS, currently comprises 52,408 sites. Of these, 17,123 were known sites, gathered through the digitisation of archival material by our partners in Central Asia, while 35,285 have been digitised from a range of satellite imagery. They are exploring approaches to automatic change detection and Google Earth algorithms for automatic site detection. They are also using historic imagery (CORONA, Google Earth, etc.), DEMs, and scanned and geo-rectified Soviet maps, to create historical map layers, to examine landscape change, destruction, damage and potential threats to archaeological heritage. There is currently over 8TB of clean archival data on UCL Research Data storage, comprising 137,173 files scanned in 6,749 folders. Each folder is a document (notebook, passport folder, envelope with films, etc). This data is linked with the public facing Arches platform and UCL Open Data Repository. As a test, they have very recently placed 6 sets of geospatial data on UCL Research Data Repository (17.45GB) and those have already been viewed 2,540 times, with 1,973 items downloaded. From the repository there are also links to other digital material – for example 3D models on Sketchfab.

‘Technology & the Historian: Transformations of the Digital Age’ Workshop & Book Launch

uczcrym23 April 2021

Lessons from history, options for today.

Thursday 29 April 2021 – 12pm-1pm (Zoom)

Register for free.

Join Dr. Adam Crymble for a free Programming Historian Teaching Workshop to celebrate the launch of his new book, Technology & the Historian: Transformations of the Digital Age, the first comprehensive history of historical studies in the digital age.

Collectively, we’ve been teaching digital history for decades. But not as consistently as you might imagine. This workshop and book launch, aimed at practicing and future teachers of history at university level, showcases the shifting approaches to digital history pedagogy in the past thirty years.

Building on that knowledge, and drawing on the tutorials of Programming Historian, as well as Crymble’s ten years on the project, he offers practical classroom-ready solutions that bring together history and technology for students today.

Upgrade how you teach historiography for the twenty-first century, by learning what came before and what can come next.

All attendees eligible for 30% discount on the book.

Register for free: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/teach-digital-history-well-tickets-141954926005?keep_tld=1

logo of Programming Historian

Logo of University of Illinois Press

MA / MSc Digital Humanities Applications Open for 2021-22

uczcrym3 February 2021

Image of UCL Campus

Caption: Photograph of UCL Campus in London.

UCL’s Department of Information Studies is currently accepting applications for the 2021-22 cohort of its MA in Digital Humanities and MSc in Digital Humanities programmes. Programme lead, Dr. Julianne Nyhan writes, ‘this exciting, interdisciplinary programme offers students a unique opportunity to explore and analyse the application of digital technologies to the cultural record of humankind and, in doing so, to reflect on how technology is impacting all aspects of how we live now, and in the future.’

Both programmes are taught by a range of staff, including members of the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities. Potential applicants are invited to contact the Admissions tutor with any questions. For 2021-22 applicants, this is Dr Adam Crymble (a.crymble@ucl.ac.uk).

Semantic Web for Cultural Heritage special issue now published

Lucy Stagg1 February 2021

UCLDH member, Antonis Bikakis, has co-edited (along with four other colleagues from France, Italy and Finland) the Semantic Web for Cultural Heritage special issue, which is now published and freely available to read in Semantic Web- Interoperability, Usability, Applicability, volume 12(2), 2021.

The papers cover a wide spectrum of modelled topics related to language, reading and writing, narratives, historical events and cultural artefacts, while describing reusable methodologies and tools for cultural data management.

 

 

Enlightenment architectures: The reconstruction of Sir Hans Sloane’s cabinets of ‘Miscellanies’

Lucy Stagg9 December 2020

UCLDH Director Dr Julianne Nyhan and Dr Kim Sloan, the Francis Finlay Curator of the Enlightenment Gallery at the British Museum, have recently had an article published by the OUP Journal of the History of Collections. The article is based on their work undertaken as part of the Leverhulme Trust-funded research project, Enlightenment Architectures: Sir Hans Sloane’s Catalogues of his Collections (2016–19), a collaboration between the British Museum and University College London. Abstract:

Focusing on Sir Hans Sloane’s catalogue of ‘Miscellanies’, now in the British Museum, this paper asks firstly how Sloane described objects and secondly whether the original contents of the cabinets can be reconstructed from his catalogue. Drawing on a sustained, digitally augmented analysis – the first of its kind – of Sloane’s catalogues, we respond to these questions and offer an initial analysis of the contents of the cabinets that held the miscellaneous objects at Sloane’s manor house in Chelsea. Knowledge of how and why Sloane catalogued this part of his collection has hitherto remained underdeveloped. We argue that his focus on preservation and documentation in his cataloguing did not preclude a research role, but rather was founded on immersive participation.

The full article, Enlightenment architectures: The reconstruction of Sir Hans Sloane’s cabinets of ‘Miscellanies’, is available to read for free.

New Programming Historian Partnership

uczcrym8 December 2020

Programming Historian Logos

UCLDH is proud to announce its support for Programming Historian, by joining their Institutional Partnership Programme. For the past decade, Programming Historian has been an integral part of the digital humanities teaching and learning infrastructure, with more than 140 open access peer-reviewed tutorials published in 4 languages. With many universities around the world still not offering adequate digital skills training to their staff or students, projects such as this one remain crucial.

Our own lecturer of Digital Humanities, Adam Crymble, is one of the founding editors of the project, and has been an integral part of their push towards sustainable open access publishing models in digital humanities. He looks forward to deepening the links between UCL and Programming Historian, and welcomes queries from UCL colleagues looking for support to integrate Programming Historian tutorials in their remote teaching offerings or postgraduate training programmes.

Centre Director, Julianne Nyhan says. ‘This open access, peer reviewed resource supports the teaching and learning of Digital Humanities across the world. It scaffolds new, emerging and established Digital Humanists to tinker, play, critique, imagine and make digital resources, in other words, to make the Digital Humanities their own. We are delighted to have the opportunity to support the excellent work of Programming Historian’.

With thanks to the Department of Information Studies for financial support.

Report on the Explore Archives event at the Marx Memorial Library

Lucy Stagg26 November 2020

Report written by Marco Humbel

The Marx Memorial Library (MML) and UCLDH/DIS regularly collaborate for facilitating research projects, student seminars and work placements. On the 16th October 2020 the MML held the online event ‘Explore Archives: Marking the centenary of the foundation of the Communist Party’. ‘Explore Archives’ was funded and co-organized by the Society for the Study of Labour History. The event’s objectives were to map archival resources on the Communist Party, spark interest for further areas of inquiry, and to develop archival research skills of attendees.

Professor Mary Davis (Royal Holloway, University of London/MML) introduced the field of historical research on the Communist Party in the first session. Davis reflected for this purpose on the research process on the new book ‘A centenary for Socialism: Britain’s Communist Party 1920-2020’, which she edited. The publication provides an extensive overview on the history of the party from political, economical and ideological perspectives. Yet, numerous areas have the potential to be investigated further, such as the history of women, trade unionism, or international solidarity.

The following panel discussion included contributions from Simon Sheppard (People’s History Museum), Lesley Ruthven (Goldsmiths, University of London), and Meirian Jump (MML). The session was chaired by Janette Martin (John Rylands Library). Each of the archives has its own focal point and unique resources. Particular strength of the People’s History Museum is for instance the minutes of the Communist Party’s central bodies like the Executive Committee, the national congresses, or the Women’s Department. The museum is also custodian of personal papers of prominent party members, like James Klugmann or the historian Dona Torr. The personal papers of another party’s historian – Noreen Branson – can be found in the MML. The Marx library also holds the papers of London branches of the Communist Party, including Bethnal Green and Hornsey, as well as collections that document international campaigns, such as the Aid Spain Movement. As a specialized collection for performing arts and social sciences, the Archives of Goldsmith’s University of London holds various song books from the labour movement, and among others the personal papers of drama scholar and party member Margot Heinemann.

The final session was titled ‘Access To Digital Resources Workshop’. Marco Humbel (UCL/MML) started the presentation with outlining the MML’s rational for its digitization activities, and the criteria for selecting collection items for digitization. The main part of the workshop aimed to map the digital resources available on the Communist Party online, including the photograph collection of the Daily Worker/Morning Star, the Aid Spain Banners and the poster collection. The session closed with an overview on the UK Archives Hub, and the Social History Portal. Both platforms facilitate to search across multiple archival repositories. Thus, they can be the starting point for exploring other archives specialized on the labour movement like the library of Trade Union Congress, or Working Class Movement Library.

New Digital Humanities Undergraduate Module

uczcrym9 October 2020

For UCL undergraduate students interested in Digital Humanities or the ways digital technology is changing the field, we are delighted to announce that the third year undergraduate “Introduction to Digital Methods in the Humanities” (INST0006) is being offered for the first time in Term 2 (2020) and is available as an optional choice for students selecting their course of study.

Edison multipolar dynamo

The module will introduce students to the many ways in which digital methods can be applied to research in the humanities. This will include case studies using different disciplinary approaches, as well as a chance to build practical skills. The module is aimed at students from across the arts, humanities, and historical disciplines who want to learn about new modes of answering research questions in their core disciplines. Students should have some experience in arts, humanities, or social sciences, but no prior technical experience is required.

Informal queries can be directed to Dr. Adam Crymble (a.crymble@ucl.ac.uk)

New report on ‘Sustaining Digital Humanities in the UK’

Lucy Stagg9 October 2020

This report, published by the Software Sustainability Institute (SSI), lists a set of recommendations for SSI to further its activity in and engagement with the Digital Humanities community in the UK.

SSI’s aim is to develop better research software, at a time where digital methods and infrastructure are becoming increasingly important within the arts and humanities research landscape.

The report was led by Giles Bergel and Pip Willcox, with contributions from a number of other academics including our new Director, Julianne Nyhan.

The full report is freely available to read and download: Sustaining the Digital Humanities in the UK.