Continuing the stories of the Great Parchment Book: Irish genealogy online

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There are an estimated 70 million people worldwide claiming Irish ancestry and we are very pleased that the Great Parchment Book project is now accessible and available online to all those who wish to trace their Irish roots.

To continue the story of those recorded in the Great Parchment Book, the genealogical collections of Derry City and Strabane Archive & Genealogy service offer another significant resource. These include a database of over one million records including traditional family history records such as birth, marriage and death records.

rootsireland.ie Derry GenealogyThe Archive & Genealogy service is currently in partnership with Irish Family History Foundation to offer a Genealogy  service.  The database of over one million records, dating from 1642 to 1922, created between 1982 and 2007 as a project of the Inner City Trust, from the major civil and church registers of the city and county of Derry~Londonderry and Inishowen, County Donegal is now available at www.derry.rootsireland.ie. Please note that this is a subscription website.

Great Parchment Book on Twitter

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You can also keep up to date with the Great Parchment Book project and associated activities on Twitter using the hashtag #greatparchmentbook.

2016_06_24_ALMS_Conservation_002We’ve recently posted images of the viewing of the Great Parchment Book at the ‘Without Borders’ LGBTQ ALMS Conference (22-24 June 2016) at London Metropolitan Archives on 24 June 2016. Visitors given a behind-the-scenes tour of the LMA Conservation Studio were thrilled to see original folios from such an iconic manuscript on display especially as it had only been added to the UNESCO UK Memory of the World earlier that week (on 21 June). They were also able to chat to Great Parchment Book project conservator Rachael Smither (on the right in the photograph) who was on hand to talk about the conservation project and answer questions.

We’ve been posting to Twitter more frequently as it enables us to post snippets of information not suitable for the more extended format of the blog. It also allows us to publicise blog posts, highlight different aspects of the project, make connections with other related material and activities, and exploit events such as the UNESCO UK Memory of the World award. Overall this has had the effect of driving more traffic to the website and making the project more widely known.

 

 

GREAT PARCHMENT BOOK AWARDED UNESCO MEMORY OF THE WORLD STATUS

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We are delighted to announce  that on 21 June 2016 at the UK Memory of the World awards at the Senedd in Cardiff, the Great Parchment Book of the Honourable the Irish Society was inscribed to the UK register of the UNESCO Memory of the World.

Copyright The Welsh Government

Philippa Smith, representing London Metropolitan Archives, was presented with the award certificate by Wales First Minister Carwyn Jones who gave the keynote speech. The opening speech had been given by Gary Brace from the UK National Commission to UNESCO. Chair of the UK Memory of the World Committee Elizabeth Oxborrow Cowan also spoke about the careful and skilful management needed to preserve our documentary heritage. The Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Archives and History, Chris Skidmore MP, sent a supportive message. Finally, a special award was made to George Boston and David Dawson who established the Memory of the World programme in the UK.

091_UNESCO_CARDIFF_AWARDS-9670

Copyright The Welsh Government

 

The following Inscriptions have now been added to Memory of the World (MoW) UK Register, recognising a wide variety of remarkable historical documents from across the UK, dating from the 9th to the 19th century:

  • Archive of Charles Booth’s Inquiry into the Life and Labour of the People in London, 1886 – 1903
  • The Great Parchment Book of The Honourable The Irish Society, 1639
  • The Exeter Book, c.965 – 975
  • The Laboratory Notebooks of Michael Faraday, 1820 – 1862
  • Medieval Archive of Canterbury Cathedral
  • Survey of the Manors of Chickhowell and Tretower, 1587
  • The Correspondence Collection Robert Owen, 1821 – 1858

In addition, congratulations are also due to the Churchill Archives and the Haig Papers.  These Inscriptions have been added to the International Register, which celebrates documentary heritage of outstanding international significance.

These Inscriptions reflect the diversity of the UK’s rich documentary heritage, which is filled with stories about people, places and events.  Documentary heritage is the documented memory of humankind, and it deserves to be cherished, celebrated, preserved and, above all, shared.

Great Parchment Book UNESCO certificateThe Great Parchment Book has been recognised as a hugely significant record of the Ulster Plantation in the early 17th century, providing a unique insight into an important period of the history of Northern Ireland for which there are few other original archives surviving.

It cannot be overstated how important the Plantation of Ulster was to the history of Northern Ireland, the United Kingdom and Ireland and it still has influence today. The Great Parchment Book is central to the study of the Plantation and the social, economic, cultural, religious, and political history of Northern Ireland.

The Great Parchment Book provides a key record of the population of early 17th century Ulster at the time of the Plantation, not just the Protestant settlers who came from both England and Scotland, but also the native Irish, and exceptionally many women, at all social levels. It contains unique information about the properties and individual buildings they inhabited, as well as the extent and layout of the towns of Coleraine and Londonderry.

The Great Parchment Book has considerable significance for the people of Ulster, Northern Ireland and Ireland more generally; it is regarded as iconic by the Irish Society and the City of London.

UNESCOUNESCO established the Memory of the World (MoW) Programme in 1992. The programme vision is that the world’s documentary heritage belongs to all, should be fully preserved and protected for all and permanently accessible to all without hindrance. The UK Register (one of several country-level programmes from around the world) recognises documentary heritage deemed by a panel of experts to be of outstanding significance to the UK. The seven new inscriptions join the 50 already listed on the UK register.

The addition of the Great Parchment Book means that London Metropolitan Archives, City of London Corporation has four items inscribed to the UK Register, the other items being the Charter of William I to the City of London, London County Council Bomb Damage Maps, and Robert Hooke’s Diary, 1672-83. This is more than any other local authority archive service and demonstrates the importance of the History of London collections held by LMA which, along with the printed collections at Guildhall Library, are also Designated as Outstanding by the Arts Council England.

Continuing the stories from the Great Parchment Book: records of Londonderry Corporation online

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The Derry City and Strabane Archive & Genealogy service is responsible for the preservation, interpretation and creation of access to the civic records of the Council and its predecessor, the Londonderry Corporation.

DerryStrabane ArchiveGenealogy ServiceThe extensive archive collection constitutes an extremely valuable source of information both for the history of the City and the Council and provides a comprehensive record of the city’s development from the latter half of the 17th century to the present day. It consists of minute books, legal documents, architectural drawings and plans, and private collections. The material ranges from business collections, and items relating to industry, shirt factories, railways, political movements and social history. The genealogical collections includes a database of over one million records including traditional family history records such as birth, marriage and death records.

Some of the records of the Londonderry Corporation have been digitised and are available online in association with the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) specifically:

The Londonderry Corporation minute books from 1673. In the late 17th and 18th centuries, the city’s business life consisted of merchants and craftsmen such as butchers and bakers, tailors and shoemakers, smiths and saddlers, joiners and coopers.

Records of the Freemen of the City of Londonderry from 1675. In the 17th and 18th centuries, only Freemen of the City were entitled to conduct business, own property and receive protection within the walled city.

These records continue the stories of the inhabitants of Londonderry started in the Great Parchment Book.

Find out more about the records held by the Derry City and Strabane Archive & Genealogy service here.

 

The Great Parchment Book by numbers

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30 May 2016 was the third anniversary of the Great Parchment Book website. To mark this, we’re taking a look at the project through numbers, from the names in the surviving folios of the book itself to the visitors to the website with some interesting facts along the way.

1 Great Parchment Book of The Honourable The Irish Society

165 folios and fragments, stored in 30 bespoke boxes (originally 16)

11 Great Twelve livery companies’ holdings recorded (should be 12, but the Merchant Taylors’ portion is missing)

1095 personal names indexed on the website including variations in spelling

992 place names indexed also including variations

49 occupations and titles recorded such as barber-surgeon, fellmonger, muster master and winecowper

120 entries in the glossary including occupations and titles, but also terms such as ballibetagh, creete, kill house, rampier, standall and vayle.

Nearly 92,700 page views of Great Parchment Book website and blog to 30 May 2016

121 blog posts including this one

270,000 visitors to Plantation, People, Perspectives exhibition in Derry Guildhall in the first year (opened 30 May 2013) when an original folio of the Great Parchment Book was on display

Almost 960,000 visitors to the exhibition to 30 May 2016 (several times the population of Derry and nearly half the population of Northern Ireland)

20 project partners including 14 funders

4 awards, 3 shortlisted/finalist, 1 highly commended

1 inscription on UK Memory of the World Register (inscribed on 21 June 2016)

All summed up as 1 unique record of the 17th century Plantation of Ulster

 

 

 

Studying digital humanities in London

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In London we are fortunate to have two leading centres for the study of digital humanities, the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities and King’s College London Department of Digital Humanities. The Great Parchment Book project and follow-on research is very closely allied to the former, but we also have had links to the latter.

UCLDH logoDigital Humanities research takes place at the intersection of computational technologies and humanities and is a relatively new field of research and teaching. It is highly collaborative and typically works across a wide range of disciplines, involving different institutions, both nationally and internationally. It has a crucial role to play in developing the use of advanced technology in the arts and humanities, making possible new kinds of research which positively impact on cultural heritage and memory institutions, libraries, archives and digital culture.

King's College LondonBoth UCLDH and King’s College Department of Digital Humanities offer MAs in Digital Humanities for which applications are currently open. Both have also produced very accessible videos which explain more about Digital Humanities research and study and are well worth viewing. Find out more via the links below:

 

UCLDH MA/MSc in Digital Humanities

UCLDH video

MA in Digital Humanities at King’s College London

King’s College Department of Digital Humanities video

 

Intersectionality in Digital Humanities

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The last few years have witnessed a movement towards a more open and inclusive Digital Humanities field. Intersectional studies are developing within Digital Humanities to try to bring a plurality of voices into the conversation.

KU LeuvenKU Leuven in Belgium is hosting a conference on Intersectionality in Digital Humanities, 15-17 September 2016. KU Leuven’s Digital Humanities Task Force invites individual paper proposals, panel sessions, poster sessions, and tool demonstrations related to intersectionality in Digital Humanities. Lists of possible topics are available via the link below. Please note deadline for this call is 30 May 2016.

Confirmed speakers include Professor Melissa Terras from University College London who has been closely involved with LMA with the Great Parchment Book project and research into multispectral imaging.

Venue: KU Leuven, Belgium

Dates: 15-17 September 2016 (immediately after the Digital Humanities Summer School, 12-14 September 2016).

Find out more here.

SEAHA Special Seminar in Multispectral and Hyperspectral Imaging

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SEAHAAn impressive line-up of world class speakers will be sharing their experience and recent findings and showcasing the power of  multispectral and hyperspectral imaging at a SEAHA special seminar in Oxford on 30 June 2016. This is an event not to be missed if you are an Imaging Scientist and Heritage professional keen to learn and share more about this exciting area of research.

Speakers include colleagues from UCL, LMA’s partners in the Great Parchment Book project with whom we are continuing to be involved in research around multispectral imaging under the auspices of SEAHA (the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts Heritage and Archaeology).

Delegates are also invited to submit a poster so they can share their own knowledge and discoveries.

Date & Time: 30 June 2016 09.30-19.00 (17.30-19.00 Wine Reception)

Location: Wolfson College, Linton Road, Oxford OX2 6UD

Price: £70.00
Includes registration, refreshments, sit down lunch and wine reception.

More details and booking information may be found here.

 

Celebrating the Great Parchment Book at the UK Blog Awards

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UKBlogAwards certificateGreat Parchment Book was pleased and proud to be part of the UK Blog Awards with all the other finalists at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge, London on Friday 29 April 2016.

It was a fun event taking the theme of Roald Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant in the centenary year of his birth which seemed very appropriate given the focus of the 2016 Awards on storytelling. A stilt-walking BFG strode around the event, and there were lots of bubbles, not only alcoholic! One room was decorated with life-like looking trees and scenery, and the canapés were smothered in edible flowers continuing the theme. The headline sponsor, Odeon Cinemas, even had a pop-up cinema – with popcorn of course.

UKBlogAwards montageThere was a real buzz to the event with finalists not only enjoying their own moment of glory with their supporters, but connecting with other bloggers and finding out their stories, in my case ranging from the Cottages and Castles Blog (lettings agency business) to the Living With CMPA Blog (the personal story of a mum with a son with food allergy). This interaction has continued after the event on social media and is an important part of the Awards ethos.

UKBlogAwards programmeThe event was not only fun, but also slick. The host was Kate Russell with whom you may be familiar from the BBC’s technology programme Click. An award winner last year, she was warm, enthusiastic and funny, with a lovely line in off-the-cuff remarks when things didn’t go according to plan, but also super-efficient at keeping the awards presentation ceremony on track. After brief but pertinent welcome speeches from the UK Blog Awards Founder and MD, Gemma Newton, and Andy Edge, Commercial Director and Amy Rountree, Social Media Manager and Strategist, Odeon Cinemas, the awards were presented by category, with two highly commended in each, plus the winner.

UKBlogAwards screenThe Arts and Culture category was up first so I didn’t have to long to wait. The Great Parchment Book blog didn’t win, but it was great to see it up on the big screen with the other finalists all of whom were made to feel special. As Gemma Newton wrote in the Awards programme: “All of the shortlisted candidates should be hugely proud of what they’ve achieved to reach this final stage … winning a UKBA is not easy.” I was then able to relax and enjoy the rest of the ceremony and celebrate with my neighbour, the author of the Living with CMPA Blog who won her category. The Arts and Culture category was won by the Honest Actors’ Blog. The winner of the headline award for the Best Storyteller was the Royal Mint Blog. Very well done to all the winning blogs.

The Great Parchment Book was the only archive blog in the competition and the only finalist from the heritage sector (although the Royal Mint Blog has a heritage dimension). It would be great next year to see more archive and heritage blogs getting involved in the UK Blog Awards, and making it through to the final. The Great Parchment Book did it, your blog can too! The Arts and Culture category is very wide, perhaps UK Blog Awards could encourage the heritage sector with a separate category, or at least make it Arts, Heritage and Culture?

You can find out more about the UK Blog Awards on its website and on social media especially Twitter @UKBlogAwards #ukba16; and Facebook /UKBlogAwards.

1615-1745: post-digital issues and concerns

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Previously on the Great Parchment Book blog we have looked at related sources such as the 1641 Depositions held at Trinity College Library Dublin.

1641 DepositionsThe 1641 Depositions comprise transcripts and images of all 8,000 depositions, examinations and associated materials in which Protestant men and women of all classes told of their experiences following the outbreak of the rebellion by the Catholic Irish in October, 1641. The 1641 Depositions Project had similar aims to the Great Parchment Book project to conserve, digitise, transcribe and make the depositions available online in a fully TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) compliant format.

You can hear more about the project and it’s future at the forthcoming CERL Dublin Manuscripts Conference 25-27 May 2016 being held in the Library of Trinity College where Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, one of the Principal Investigators on the project, is speaking on ‘The 1641 Depositions: what now?’ in a session on ‘Post-digital issues and concerns 1615-1745′.

cerl-logoThe conference is entitled ‘Unique and universal: challenges for the manuscript librarian’ and is the 7th conference of the European Manuscript Librarians Expert Group of CERL (the Consortium of European research Libraries).

The primary aims of the Group are to act as a forum for curatorial concerns, and to enhance understanding and practical cooperation among curators across Europe. The conference will focus on the themes of commemorations and anniversaries, materiality, and post-digital issues and concerns.

Find out more about the conference and how to register here.

 

Do you want to work in LMA’s award winning conservation studio?

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PLEASE NOTE THIS RECRUITMENT IS NOW CLOSED!

LMA is recruiting for a book conservator for a grant funded project fixed term for 6 months.

Diocese of London Consistory Court booksThe project aims to repair and repackage a selection of pre-1660 Diocese of London Consistory Court Books unfit for consultation owing to their condition to enable public access. It is funded by the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust, which also funded the conservation of the Great Parchment Book.

Consistory Court Book before conservationThe post holder will be required to carry out conservation treatments based on up-to-date techniques on the volumes which can be described as early archival parchment bindings. The post holder will work to the Conservation Studio Manager, Dr Caroline de Stefani.

We are looking for applicants with a recognised qualification in the fields of paper, archive or book conservation or equivalent and the necessary skills and experience to undertake this challenging project.

To request an application pack please contact the City of London’s Corporate Recruitment Unit on 020 7332 3978 (24hr answerphone) or email cru@cityoflondon.gov.uk quoting the reference number (CHL 33D0931/001 or OCHL161). A minicom service for the hearing impaired is available on 020 7332 3179

The City of London Corporation is committed to Equal Opportunities and welcomes applications from all sections of the community.

Website: https://jobs.cityoflondon.gov.uk/

Closing date: noon, 18 April 2016
Interviews: 10-11 May 2016

Great Parchment Book retrospective: the legacy and the future

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With the successful outcome of the Great Parchment Book project well-established and in the public eye once again, we’ve been reflecting back on the different elements which made up the project and trying to make sense of the journey.

Over the past few weeks we have looked at conservation, digital imaging, transcription and textual encoding, historical importance and synergy with other sources, outreach and public recognition. To round up, we’re going to look at legacy and the future.

Great Parchment Book foliosThe conservation, digital reconstruction and resulting transcription of the Great Parchment Book have provided a lasting resource for historians researching the Plantation of Ulster in local, national and international contexts.

A schools programmes associated with the exhibition is underway in Derry. The Great Parchment Book is also being used in undergraduate teaching at the University of Ulster and is proving to be a vital resource for postgraduate and post-doctoral research. The website and project blog are also used extensively by students of conservation and digital humanities.

After

On the digital imaging side, UCL has enabled free access to the digital reconstruction process through a stand-alone version of the software (available on the UCL project page). The open-sourcing of UCL’s platform should enable other institutions to access the acquisition and restoration process themselves. Meanwhile LMA wants to explore the possibility of developing our role as a centre of expertise for the conservation, imaging, and digital restoration of distorted parchments and other damaged material, working in tandem with UCL to maintain the trajectory we have built up working on this together.

LMA is continuing to post updates on the project on the blog making connections with other digital projects and technologies revolutionising access to archives and cultural artefacts, and exploring the synergies with other documents relevant to the story that the Great Parchment Book has to tell. Watch this space!

Great Parchment Book retrospective: public recognition

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The successful outcome of the Great Parchment Book project is now well-established and the project has been very much in the public eye. This post, in our occasional retrospective, is about public recognition.

The project was an ambitious collaborative undertaking and each element was a major piece of work in its own right and different funders were approached for each aspect of the project:

  • The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council funded a four year Engineering Doctorate in the Virtual Environments, Imaging and Visualisation programme at University College London for the digital imaging and virtual reconstruction of the Great Parchment Book from September 2010.
  • The National Manuscripts Conservation Trust awarded a grant for conservation in 2011.
  • The Marc Fitch Foundation, the Irish Society and several of the Great Twelve City of London livery companies (Clothworkers’ Company, Drapers’ Company, Fishmongers’ Company, Goldsmiths’ Company, Ironmongers’ Company, Mercers’ Company, Merchant Taylors’ Company and Skinners’ Company) gave grants towards the transcription and textual encoding of the document and its online publication in 2012.
  • Advice and support was given by Professor James Stevens Curl, The British Library, The National Archives and The Trustees of Lambeth Palace Library.
  • Derry City Council Heritage and Museums Service, LMA and UCL also provided funding and staff time and resources.

Great Parchemtn Book public recognition and awards

The Great Parchment Book project has been nominated for a number of awards, evidence both of the importance of the document and the strength of the project.

Finally, the importance of the Great Parchment Book project has been recognised at the highest level. First Minister of Northern Ireland, the Rt Hon Peter D Robinson MLA, wrote in 2013 that “I cannot praise the work of the LMA & UCL highly enough. In completing this mammoth project they have succeeded in opening a veritable treasure trove of information relating to a most significant period in the history of Ulster; and illustrating as never before the central role played by the London Guilds in the creation and preservation of the city of Londonderry and its environs.”

President of Ireland

Also in 2013, the Lord Lieutenant of the city of Derry, Sir Donal Keegan, was shown a folio relating to the city when he was presented with the Freedom of the City of London. During his visit to the United Kingdom in 2014, the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, viewed a display of folios from the Great Parchment Book at a State Banquet in his honour at Guildhall.

You can find out more about awards and other project updates connected with the Great Parchment Book on the blog (go to the end of the page once you’ve clicked the link to read in chronological order).

Great Parchment Book retrospective: outreach

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The Great Parchment Book had been inaccessible to researchers for over 200 years owing to its fragile state. Our overriding objective with the project was to make the manuscript available again to as wide a range of people as possible, not just for the benefit of scholars and other researchers, but also for the communities to which it was most relevant. In our occasional series of posts looking back at the project, we turn our attention to engagement and outreach.

The original ambition was to produce a digitally reconstructed and fully accessible manuscript that could take pride of place in the exhibition in Derry Guildhall opening in June 2013 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the building of the city walls during Derry’s year as UK City of Culture.

Overall, the project was more successful than we could have hoped. The Great Parchment Book website went live on 30 May 2013 on the eve of the opening of the Derry Guildhall exhibition; it features a blog and an embedded video. Since its launch it has attracted 87,000 page views to date and counting, and has been a great success with a whole range of people around the world including academic researchers, local and family historians, conservators and those interested in the digital humanities.

Bernadette and Edward looking at an original folio of the Great Parchment Book

The exhibition curated by Derry City Council Heritage and Museums Service entitled Plantation: People, Process, Perspectives opened in Derry’s Guildhall in June 2013. The exhibition had nearly 270,000 visitors in its first year and has had over 864,000 visitors to the end of 2015 including school groups. Such has been its popularity that it is set to continue for the foreseeable future. Visitor feedback has been very positive, including high praise for the original archive material which for the first ten months included an original folio of the Great Parchment Book and other documents from the Irish Society archives.

Great Parchment Book Day 2014

All aspects of the project have been celebrated and presented by LMA and University College London at various conferences and events including the Archives and Records Association Conference, Brighton 2012; Digital Humanities Conference, Nebraska USA 2013; Plantation Families event, Belfast/Derry, 27-28 September 2013; Opposites Attract: Science and Archives, LMA 21 March 2014; STEM from the City careers day, City of London Guildhall 27 June 2014; Great Parchment Book Day, LMA 25 July 2014; International Council on Archives annual conference, Girona, Spain 15 October 2014; University of Melbourne, Australia 31 October 2014; ARA Conservation Training Committee and Instructors, LMA 20 November 2014; Association for Historical and Fine Art Photography’s annual conferences, London 27 November 2014 and 22 October 2015.

The project has been published in a range of publications (the UCL project page has a list of the most significant and provides access to the free software produced in the course of the project) and is featured on many websites including the European History Primary Sources (EHPS) website and that of the International Council on Archives and the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust. The Great Parchment Book project has featured in an article in the Observer, 5 July 2015 on conservation technology.

It is used in teaching history at all levels especially in Northern Ireland, as well as for teaching students of conservation and digital humanities around the world.

You can find out more about events connected with the Great Parchment Book on the blog (go to the end of the page once you’ve clicked the link to read in chronological order).

The Plumbers’ Company and the Plantation – a bottomless money pit

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Dr Patricia Stewart transcribing the Great Parchment Book

The Great Parchment Book records the landholdings in the Proportions allocated to the twelve Great Companies, but each of these Companies was also associated with many smaller Companies which could not afford to manage a Proportion in their own right. While the Great Parchment Book makes no mention of these smaller Companies, other documents reveal the tremendous burden of the Plantation on them. Dr Patricia Stewart, who transcribed and encoded the Great Parchment Book, has been looking at the archives of the Plumbers’ Company, an Associated Company of the Vintners, which held lands in the eastern part of Londonderry.

The Plumbers’ Court Records (which may be accessed at Guildhall Library reference CLC/L/PH/B/001/MS02208) show that both the Company’s individual members and the Company as a whole found the Plantation an unmanageable expense.

On 5 February 1629, the Company agreed to repay to the widow of the deceased Master Richard Green all the money that her husband contributed towards the Plantation in Ireland, ‘in respect of her extreame poverty’ (after first ensuring that any money still owed by her husband was deducted from the sum). That the Court had to include the caveat ‘provided that this be noe president for others in the like kinde’ is perhaps telling.

Vintners-lands with permission of Lambeth Palace LibraryDuring the first decades of the 17th century there were several surveys made of the state of affairs in Londonderry, and these resulted in serious disagreements between the Crown and the City of London/Livery Companies over whether they were honouring their obligations in settling the Plantation. In 1635, Charles I took the City of London and The Irish Society to trial in the Star Chamber for the mismanagement and neglect of the Plantation. The Plumbers’ Company Court Records for 9 June 1636 include a copy (in Latin) of the ‘letter of Attourney to Master Hooker to defend the Company’s suite in the Starchamber touching the Irish lands’. The trial ended in favour of the Crown, unsurprisingly, and the resulting wholesale seizure of lands held by the Livery Companies led to the 1639 survey recorded in the Great Parchment Book.

In 1641 Charles, motivated by his need to borrow money to finance various wars, promised to restore the lands to the Livery Companies. On 13 June 1642, the Plumbers’ Court Records show that the City of London was asked to lend Parliament £100,000, the Plumbers’ share of which was £250. Two Wardens of the Company, Samuel North and Richard Orton, and two Assistants, William George and William Haynes, offered to lend the Company £50 each to go towards this loan to Parliament. As security for the loan, some the Company’s plate and tenements were made over to them. An entry from 7 December 1642, states that as ‘the Companie stand endebted to severall persons (at interest) amounteing in all to three hundred pownds and upwards’, the rest of the plate should be sold to the highest bidder and the money be used to pay off these debts ‘and to noe other use or end whatsoever’.

It seems that the Plumbers didn’t pay the £200 lent by North et al. to Parliament, as an entry from 13 December 1642 indicates that a few days earlier the Company received a further official order for this money. The Company was required ‘to carrye in the same somme before Mundaye next on the afternoone or otherwise to appeare before the said Committee on tuesdaye next at three of the clocke in the afternoone at Haberdashers hall, to show cause of your not performeing the same’.

The Plumbers’ answer to this was to plead poverty. To begin with, they recently purchased land and built their Hall, and what with paying workmen and other charges, were in debt over £800 and had to mortgage the said Hall (and other buildings) for £500. Then there was the £100 plus lent for ‘the service of Ireland’ which should have been repaid to them in October of 1641 but hadn’t been yet. In addition, those members who were able to lend money had already done so, the Company had no Common Stock and no other revenues, and business was down. In short, the Plumbers were ‘not able to advance any more moneys nor dischardge theire said ngadgements for all which causes and reasons they humbly desire the said honourable Comittee wold bee satisfied with this theire humble and true answer without pressing them any further uppon the said Order’.

This was not the end of the Plumbers’ money problems, as several more entries running until 1643 detail requests from Parliament for other sums, and their efforts to pay these (or not). Records such as these show the ambivalence and frustration that must have been felt by the smaller Livery Companies (and by the larger ones as well) at their inability to escape what was turning out to be a bottomless money pit.

 

 

Great Parchment Book retrospective: historical importance and synergy with other sources

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Continuing with the occasional series of posts reflecting on the different elements which make up the Great Parchment Book project, we now turn our attention to historical importance and synergy with other sources.

The Great Parchment Book is a hugely important record of the Ulster Plantation of the early 17th century documenting an important and formative period of the history of Britain and Ireland. It cannot be overstated how important the Plantation of Ulster was to the history of these islands and it still has resonance today.

So important was the Great Parchment Book to the Irish Society that it was rescued from the fire at Guildhall in 1786 and carefully preserved in spite of its parlous state as it provided evidence of its property, rights and legitimacy.

Thomas Raven's map of the Drapers' buildings at Monnemore (copyright Trustees of Lambeth Palace Library)Original archives and other artefacts are considerably lacking for this period of Irish history. If the Great Parchment Book did not exist, key data about landholding and population in Ulster at this time (not only the English and Scottish settlers, but also the native Irish) at this crucial period would be undiscoverable. It contains unique information about properties and individual buildings, as well as their extent and layout including that of the towns of Coleraine and Londonderry. It also contains unique and exceptional information about the population from all social backgrounds including references to women about whom there is otherwise very little.

1641 Depositions

Although unique, the information contained with the Great Parchment Book has a synergy with others sources for early modern Ulster and we have explored some of these on the Great Parchment Book website. They include Thomas Raven’s maps of Londonderry, 1622, held at Lambeth Palace Library and Drapers’ Hall, the muster rolls held by the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, and the 1641 Depositions (witness testimonies concerning experiences of the 1641 Irish rebellion) held at Trinity College Dublin Library which are also available digitally. It is also useful to connect to other digital and published resources such as the digital atlas of Derry–Londonderry and the Irish Historic Towns Atlas, and publications of the Irish Manuscripts Commission.

You can find out more about the history of the Plantation on the website and the synergy of the Great Parchment Book with other sources for the Plantation on the blog (go to the end of the page once you’ve clicked the link to read in chronological order).

Great Parchment Book retrospective: transcription and textual encoding

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As we reflect on the different elements which made up the Great Parchment Book project in this continuing series of posts, we now turn our attention to transcription and textual encoding.

Alongside the conservation and digital imaging work, a palaeographer, Dr Patricia Stewart, was employed by London Metropolitan Archives partly funded by the Marc Fitch Fund and some of the Great Twelve City of London livery companies to prepare a readable and exploitable version of the text. The aim was to produce both a transcription of the original text as found in the Book, the ‘original transcript’, and also a modernised version, the ‘modern transcript’ with an accompanying glossary.

To enable the Great Parchment Book to be as comprehensively searchable as possible, it was decided to encode the text in XML compliant with the Textual Encoding Initiative. TEI is a set of guidelines which specify encoding methods for machine-readable texts. It is widely used by archives, libraries, museums and individual scholars to present texts for online research and preservation.

Encoding the Great Parchment Book

Patricia already had some familiarity with TEI, but had to think about how it would work in the context of the Great Parchment Book, and to think about transcription conventions and methodology. To begin with, though, she had to learn about the historical and archival context of the manuscript and its structure and arrangement. There was also a steep learning curve getting to grips with Irish personal and place names and some of the less familiar terms used. Last but not least there was the distorted text itself which in places was illegible or even missing.  Patricia was able to supply some text through her knowledge of how the manuscript was arranged and its use of formulaic text. She was also able to re-order some of the folios and identify a few of the fragments.

Transcribing the Great Parchment Book

Patricia worked with Kazim Pal, the doctoral student, to test the flattening software as it was being developed to see whether it made deciphering and transcribing the text any easier. She also was involved in the discussions with the website designers Headscape on how the transcripts and glossary would be presented on the website alongside the original and flattened images of the individual parchment folios.

This painstaking work took longer than expected and so the original six month project was extended to eight months running from September 2012 to May 2013 to enable the transcripts and glossary to be completed and uploaded to the website.

Patricia continued to be involved in the project by presenting papers at events such as the Plantation Families: People, Records and Resources event held in Belfast and Londonderry on 27–28 September 2013 and the Great Parchment Book Day at LMA on 25 July 2014.

The digitisation of the Great Parchment Book was recognised in 2014 when the project received a European Succeed Award (for digitisation focussing on textual content) Commendation of Merit.

You can find out more about the transcription and encoding of the Great Parchment Book on the blog (go to the end of the page once you’ve clicked the link to read in chronological order).

Great Parchment Book retrospective: imaging

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In our previous post in this occasional series reflecting on the different elements which make up the Great Parchment Book project we looked at conservation; now it’s the turn of digital imaging.

It had been evident for many years that traditional conservation alone would not produce sufficient results to make the Great Parchment Book accessible, although there had been at least one attempt in the past. Following discussions with conservation and imaging experts, it was decided to flatten the parchment sheets as far as possible appropriate to their fragile state to enable digital imaging with the ultimate aim of reconstructing the manuscript digitally. We knew from the first that this was an undertaking without a certain result as we were committed to exploring new techniques and technologies; nothing else had any chance of success.

A partnership with UCL established a four year Engineering Doctorate in the Virtual Environments, Imaging and Visualisation programme in September 2010 (jointly funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and LMA) with the intention of developing software that would make the distorted text legible. The doctoral student, Kazim Pal, was supervised by Melissa Terras, Director of the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities and Professor of Digital Humanities in the Department of Information Studies at University College London and Tim Weyrich, Professor of Visual Computing in the Virtual Environments and Computer Graphics group in the Department of Computer Science, University College London and Deputy Director of the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities.

Imaging.emf

During the digitisation phase, which in part ran alongside the conservation, a set of images was captured for each page and used to generate 3D models. Ground-breaking software was developed to allow these models to be flattened and browsed virtually.

digitally flattened parchmentKazim’s work was more successful than we could have hoped with the digitally flattened images of the folios featuring on the dedicated Great Parchment Book website alongside a transcript making the Great Parchment Book available for consultation by researchers once more.

The digitisation of the Great Parchment Book was recognised in 2014 when the project received a European Succeed Award (for digitisation focussing on textual content) Commendation of Merit.

You can explore the digital imaging of the Great Parchment Book in detail on the blog (go to the end of the page once you’ve clicked the link to read in chronological order).

See also the UCL project web page which includes access to the free software produced in the course of the project and the amazing video of the flattening software in action.

We also continue to highlight other developments which are revolutionising access to archives through the use of new technology and innovation on the blog.

Great Parchment Book retrospective: conservation

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Now with the successful outcome of the Great Parchment Book project well-established and in the public eye once again, it seems a good time to reflect back on the different elements which made up the project and try to make sense of the journey.

We start with conservation, the essential first phase of the project prior to the digital imaging, for which funding was obtained from the National Manuscripts Conservation Trust. The six month project ran from April to September 2012. Conservator Rachael Smither, was appointed to carry out the work, supervised by Dr Caroline De Stefani the London Metropolitan Archives Conservation Studio Manager.

Great Parchment Book folio

The conservation treatment of such a degraded and fragile manuscript was challenging and a considerable amount of research and a number of treatment trials had to happen before any work on the folios of the Great Parchment Book could take place.

One trial which really caught the imagination was when Rachael took a replica parchment book home to cook in the oven to see what the effect would be (it was very smelly!) She also discovered that an earlier attempt had been made to flatten some of the folios which had led to some perfectly flat sheets, but increased instability of the original material.Conservation in action 

It was decided therefore that only minimal treatment would be undertaken to make the digital imaging possible where folds and creases were obscuring the text. Instead of flattening, the folds and creases were gently pushed out with the result that the so-called poppadum book retained its familiar physical characteristics. A bespoke packaging solution was devised to support and protect the folios in the future.

Improved storage

 

The conservation of the Great Parchment Book was recognised in 2015 when the project was short-listed for the Pilgrim Trust Award for Conservation.

 

You can explore the conservation of the Great Parchment Book on the blog in detail (go to the end of the page once you’ve clicked the link to read in chronological order).

You can also see the conservation treatment in action on the Great Parchment Book project video.

Great Parchment Book retrospective

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When we embarked on the Great Parchment Book project, we were very uncertain that we would be able to achieve our aim: a digitally reconstructed and fully accessible manuscript that could take pride of place in the exhibition in Derry Guildhall opening in June 2013 to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the building of the city walls.

Great Parchment Book partners

The project was an ambitious collaborative undertaking committed to exploring new techniques and technologies; nothing else had any chance of success. Each element was a major piece of work in its own right and different partners and funders were approached for each aspect of the project.

Now with the successful outcome well-established and the project in the public eye once again, it seems a good time to reflect on the different elements which made up the project and look back on the journey.

Over the next few weeks watch out for posts about –

  • Conservation
  • Digital humanities: imaging, transcription and textual encoding
  • The history of the Plantation and synergy with other original sources
  • Public engagement and recognition
  • The legacy and the future

And to help you get your bearings here is the Great Parchment Book project timeline –

  • Initial discussions between LMA, University College London and other potential partners, March/April 2010
  • Imaging – Four year EngD at UCL, September 2010-September 2014 (first year taught so project got underway in September 2011)
  • Conservation, April-September 2012
  • Transcription and encoding, September 2012-May 2013
  • Great Parchment Book website launch, 30 May 2013
  • Derry Guildhall exhibition opened, 10 June 2013
  • Public engagement, recognition and future developments – ongoing

A contentious historical legacy

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The Great Parchment Book is a hugely important record of the Ulster Plantation of the early 17th century documenting an important and formative period of the history of Britain and Ireland. The Plantation had significant implications for the politics of these islands and left a contentious historical legacy which still resonates today.

New River Company 2

This legacy is also reflected in two documents in the latest exhibition at London Metropolitan Archives which relate to a later period – the time of the Napoleonic Wars. In 1803 French invasion seemed imminent, but there were serious problems within London too. Radicalism, industrial unrest and high food prices in the 1790s and 1800s led to plots and talk of revolution on which the government clamped down hard. The failed Irish Rebellion and French landings in Ireland of 1796-8 meant Irish labourers were seen as potential subversives within the capital.

New River Company 1

The documents date from October 1803 and comprise a letter from the Lord Mayor to the New River Company concerning a threat by Irish workers to prevent the supply of water to put out fires in the event of a French invasion and a list of names of New River Company workmen analysing nationality, address, number of years employed and whether the individual had a wife and children (LMA reference ACC/2558/MW/C/15/361/001). The threat was taken very seriously as the list was sent to the Secretary at War. The New Company was the capital’s largest water company and supplied water to the City, and East and North London.

War in London, which reveals the effects of five conflicts on Londoners and their city from the English Civil War to the Cold War, runs at LMA until 27 April 2016.

At Sixes & Sevens in LMA

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A copy of the published score of At Sixes & Sevens written by Northern Irish poet Paul Muldoon and composer Mark-Anthony Turnage has today been deposited in London Metropolitan Archives and placed with the archives of the Honourable the Irish Society.

The new choral work At Sixes & Sevens was commissioned by the Irish Society and the City of London Corporation as a gift to mark their long association and the 400th anniversary of the Honourable the Irish Society, and to celebrate Derry as 2013 UK City of Culture.

During his research for the cantata, Paul Muldoon visited LMA to explore the archives of The Honourable The Irish Society, and to see the Great Parchment Book.

The world première of the cantata At Sixes & Sevens for soprano and baritone soloists, youth choir, chorus and orchestra was performed simultaneously in the two Guildhalls of London and Derry~Londonderry on 3 July 2013.

Paul Muldoon

On 17 March (St. Patrick’s Day) 2014, Paul Muldoon received the Freedom of the City of London at Guildhall in recognition of his outstanding contribution to poetry.

The score of At Sixes & Sevens is published by Boosey and Hawkes and the deposited copy is available for general access at LMA under reference CLA/049/RD/02/044.

Great Parchment Book is UK Blog Awards finalist!

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Thanks to your votes, the Great Parchment Book blog has made it to the final of the UK Blog Awards 2016. A tremendous achievement which took us all by surprise: we are absolutely delighted.

finalist_facebook

As you can see from the shortlist for the Arts and Culture category, we are up against some stiff (and very diverse) competition, but it’s up to the judges now who have a tough job ahead of them. Judging begins on Monday 1 February and will be carried out remotely until 19 February 2016.

We are invited to connect with the judges across social media during the process. You can find out more about our judges here if you’d like to participate. You can also follow the competition on Twitter @UKBlogAwards #UKBA16.

The winner will be announced at a dazzling awards ceremony at the Park Plaza Hotel, Westminster, London on Friday 29 April 2016.

Once again, very many thanks for your support. We’ll of course let you know how we get on.

 

The pleasures and pitfalls of writing a blog

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The importance of recording the progress of the Great Parchment Book project through a blog was identified right at the start of the discussions about the project  and it has been a key means to publicise and ensure the legacy of the project.

LMA Conservation Studio Manager Caroline De Stefani and project lead Philippa Smith are delighted to have been invited to write about the pleasures and pitfalls of writing a blog for a fellow blog published by Cilip (The Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals).

The recently published post includes our tips for writing a successful blog and looks at the lessons we have learned along the way.

You can read the Cilip blog post – The pleasures and pitfalls of writing a conservation project blog – here.

Last day to vote for the Great Parchment Book blog!

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There’s only a day left to vote for the Great Parchment Book Blog in the Arts and Culture category of the UK Blog Awards 2016.

If you haven’t voted already, it would be really great if you would show your support for the Great Parchment Book project by voting as this will enable the blog to progress to the final of the awards.

Voting is closes at 9pm today (Monday 25 January 2016), so please don’t delay, make sure you vote for the Great Parchment Book blog now!

ukba16 votenow

 

Only a week left to vote for the Great Parchment Book blog!

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ukba16 votenow

There’s only a week left to vote for the Great Parchment Book Blog in the Arts and Culture category of the UK Blog Awards 2016.

If you haven’t voted already, it would be really great if you would show your support for the Great Parchment Book project by voting as this will enable the blog to progress to the final of the awards.

Voting is open until Monday 25 January 2016 at 9pm, but please don’t delay, make sure you vote for the Great Parchment Book blog today!

3D imaging in cultural heritage

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Interdisciplinary research has been key to the success of the Great Parchment Book project. In the next seminar in the UCLDH seminar series, Mona Hess, Research Manager at 3DIMPact (3D Imaging, Metrology & Photogrammetry), UCL Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, offers a cross-disciplinary approach for 3D imaging metrology and 3D printing in cultural heritage, arts and humanities and for creative industries.

The potential of 3D images is increasingly recognized by heritage professionals for opening up new technological possibilities for digital documentation, analysis and research, exhibition display and education. Currently there is no comprehensive understanding of the 3D image qualities for a digital artefact from the point of view of a heritage professional.  In this talk, Mona Hess will give an overview of the qualitative research undertaken to explore heritage professionals’ requirements, and examine the outcomes of the research, including a framework to assess 3D image quality and to plan 3D imaging projects according to user requirements and sensor capabilities.

UCLDH seminarUCLDH Seminar Series: Project planning framework for 3D imaging in cultural heritage, including 3D image quality assessment

UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, London

Wednesday, 20 January 2016 from 17:30 to 18:30

To book a place go to Eventbrite.

UK Blog Awards – vote now!

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We are pleased to announce that the Great Parchment Book Blog has been nominated in the Arts and Culture category of the UK Blog Awards 2016.

The Public Vote opened today and it would be really great if you would show your support for the Great Parchment Book project and the blog by voting to enable us to progress in the awards.

Voting is open until Monday 25 January 2016 at 9pm, but don’t delay and vote for the Great Parchment Book blog now!

ukba16 votenow

Why vote for us?

The blog puts the Great Parchment Book in its rightful place at the heart of the study of the history of the 17th century Plantation of Ulster and links it directly to other sources, current academic scholarship and other research. It aims to foster interest in the cutting edge technologies which are already revolutionising access to archives and manuscripts, to inform and educate about conservation and the role of digital imaging, and to contribute to developments in the digital humanities. Primarily it makes it accessible whoever and wherever you are.

Vote for the Great Parchment Book blog now!

 

X-ray technology reveals a hidden library

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The Great Parchment Book project through interdisciplinary research has allowed researchers to digitally explore the contents of a badly damaged and distorted manuscript. Recently, we’ve come across another collaborative project which has allowed researchers to digitally leaf through invisible pages and gain access to a hidden library.

Early-modern books contain hidden treasure: fragments cut from medieval manuscripts placed inside bindings to reinforce the textblock and to provide support for the binding. In his blog Medieval Books, Dr Erik Kwakkel from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands looks at how to gain access to the fragments using the Macro X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry (MA-XRF) technology developed by Joris Dik and his team at Delft University in collaboration with industrial, academic and museum partners.

The blog post – X-Rays Expose a Hidden Medieval Library – gives an exclusive look behind-the-scenes at the process, and discusses the challenges and opportunities it presents for the future.

More 17th century Irish sources online: muster rolls

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The pages of the Great Parchment Book are scattered with references to arms such as pikes and muskets which the tenants of the City of London livery companies were required to “have and keep in readiness … for the service of his Majesty … furnished in such manner as the same shall and may be allowed by the Muster Master”. During the Plantation, landed estates were required to muster tenants for defence when areas were under threat from the native Irish and the provision was recorded in muster rolls. Some of the rolls, all now held in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, simply stated the number of men on estates bearing arms, but others contain the names of adult males bearing or capable of bearing arms.

Bill Macafee on his website dedicated to the family and local history of County Londonderry and North Antrim has transcribed and made available either as a pdf arranged by surname or as a fully searchable spreadsheet the most useful muster rolls containing names as follows:

1622 Muster Rolls for the City & Liberties of Londonderry, Town & Liberties of Coleraine & Vintners’ Estate, Bellaghy [PRONI: T510/2, T671/1]

1630 Muster Rolls for the County of Londonderry and for the Baronies of Cary, Dunluce, Kilconway and Toome, Co. Antrim [PRONI: D/1759/3C/3]

Muster roll 1630

Bill’s web page on 17th century sources gives lots more information about the 1622 and 1630 Muster Rolls and is well worth a look. The information in the rolls can be cross-checked against that in the Great Parchment Book and some of the other online 17th century sources for Irish history mentioned previously in this blog.

Technology meets Scholarship: Handwritten Text Recognition

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If like us you are excited by ways to revolutionise access to archives through the use of new technology and innovation, you might be interested in a conference on Handwritten Text Recognition in Germany early next year (2016) as part of the co:op project.

Technology meets Scholarship, or how Handwritten Text Recognition will Revolutionize Access to Archival Collections.

Hessian State Archives, Marburg, Germany

19-21 January 2016

Participation at the event is free, but please register on the project website where you will also find the detailed programme.

If you want to get an idea of the possibilities of Handwritten Text Recognition, take a look at the website of the EU project tranScriptorium, as well as the Virtual Research Environment TRANSKRIBUS.

We’ve posted before about HTR – see also Magic in Action which refers to tranScriptorium and Update in developments in HTR technology which looks at the READ (Recognition and Enrichment of Archival Documents) project.

Update May 2016: The presentations at the Marburg conference were all filmed and have been published on the co:op blog and co:op Youtube channel.

Our ICON certificate has arrived and other awards news

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ICON certificate

LMA has now received the splendid certificate you can see here in recognition that the Conservation of the Great Parchment Book was shortlisted for the prestigious Pilgrim Trust Award for Conservation 2015. We will display the certificate proudly at LMA and our congratulations go again to LMA Conservation Studio Manager Caroline De Stefani and project conservator Rachael Smither.

In other news about awards, we were also surprised and pleased to find out that the project had been nominated for one of the Royal Historical Society Public History Prizes this year. Again we did not win, but the nomination is more evidence of the strength and depth of the Great Parchment Book project which has previously been awarded a European Succeed Award Commendation of Merit as a cutting edge digitisation project.

Conservation of Great Parchment Book – update on Pilgrim Trust Award

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Back in July London Metropolitan Archives was very pleased and excited to learn that Conservation of The Great Parchment Book had been shortlisted for the prestigious The Pilgrim Trust Award for Conservation 2015. The award recognises excellence in conserving an individual or collection of cultural heritage objects in the UK and the project was one of only four shortlisted, so a great achievement in itself.

Along with the representatives of the other three shortlisted projects, LMA Conservation Studio Manager Caroline De Stefani attended the VIP awards ceremony on 22 October 2015 at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in the heart of Westminster, London. She was accompanied by Graham Packham, Deputy Chairman of the Culture, Heritage and Libraries Committee of the City of London Corporation.

We were competing with very high profile projects and unfortunately we did not win. Still, it was a great achievement to have been shortlisted and we are so proud of the Great Parchment Book project. Our congratulations go both to Caroline and to Rachael Smither who worked as project conservator, for their achievement.

Thanks also to all those who have worked with us on the project, but especially Dr Tim Weyrich from our UCL partners who supported us at the judging panel.

The Icon Conservation Awards recognise the highest standards of conservation, research and collections care within the UK art and heritage sectors. More information about the ICON Conservation Awards is available on the ICON Conservation Awards website.

 

ICON awards Pilgrim Trust

Multispectral imaging of parchment documents and much more

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LMA is pleased to be working with UCL on research into the multispectral imaging of archival documents. Find out more here about recent research on degraded historical texts written on parchment, and events and discussions about this hot topic.

Multispectral imaging of degraded historical texts written on parchment

LMA is pleased to have contributed the raw material which allowed our partners at University College London to carry out research on the multispectral imaging of degraded historical texts written on parchment. They chose to focus on parchment documents for their study, given that parchment remains the primary medium of large quantities of culturally important documents in archives, museums, libraries, and private collections.

Multispectral imaging is an advanced digitisation method for acquiring image data over a series of wavelengths across the light spectrum. Combined with image processing, it has become a valuable tool for the enhancement and recovery of information contained within culturally important documents, providing a means, in some cases, to recover lost text, or examine other features no longer detectable by the human eye. The aim of the research was evaluate this technique in a structured fashion, to provide recommendations on how best to capture and process images when working with damaged and abraded textual material.

“The value of critical destruction: Evaluating multispectral image processing methods for the analysis of primary historical texts” by Alejandro Giacometti, Alberto Campagnolo, Lindsay MacDonald, Simon Mahony, Stuart Robson, Tim Weyrich, Melissa Terras, Adam Gibson was published in the online journal Digital Scholarship in the Humanities by Oxford University Press on behalf of European Association for Digital Humanities on 7 October 2015.

More than the eye can see: Digital Humanities spectral imaging

Effective spectral imaging requires not just collection of quality images, but the ability to manage and exploit large amounts of integrated data and metadata for cultural heritage studies. Mike Toth, Honorary Research Associate at UCL, who is supporting the integration of spectral imaging systems into digital humanities studies and institutions, is speaking about this at a seminar “More than the eye can see: Digital Humanities spectral imaging” at UCL on 28 October 2015 5.30-6.30pm.

All welcome and there will be drinks and discussion after the talk, but please note that registration is required. More information is available here.

Sightlines

Mike Toth was also speaking in the United States at Sightlines, a panel discussion and technology petting zoo with light-based technologies, presented by the Digital Futures Consortium of Harvard University on 14 October 2015. This event brought together experts and thinkers from multiple disciplines to discuss 2D, 3D, and multispectral imaging for cultural heritage collections and is one of a three part series. The presentations will be published on the Sightlines website in due course.

Great Parchment Book website hits 80,000 page views

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Last week the Great Parchment Book website passed another landmark with more than 80,000 page views since it was launched on 30 May 2013.

In addition, the Derry Guildhall exhibition – Plantation: Process, people, perspectives – which displayed an original folio of the Great Parchment Book for the first 10 months, has had 725,261 visitors from its opening in June 2013 to date, including 203,348 so far this year.

The exhibition provides an interactive insight into the decisions and events of early 17th century, showcasing original maps, drawings and museum objects on loan from other institutions and using personalities to explore that period of history to provide an understanding of the conflicts of the past. The exhibition is open in the Guildhall daily from 10am-5.30pm including Saturdays and Sunday. Entrance to the Guildhall building and exhibition is free of charge.

We are really pleased that the Great Parchment Book has been seen by so many both as an original folio in Derry, and remotely through the website, and that the story of the Plantation is continuing to be appreciated by visitors to the exhibition.

1641 Depositions

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The Great Parchment Book is a key source for the history of 17th century Ireland and the Plantation in particular. Also important are the 1641 Depositions – witness testimonies, mainly by Protestants, but also by some Catholics, from all social backgrounds, concerning their experiences of the 1641 Irish rebellion. This material provides a unique source of information for the causes and events surrounding the 1641 rebellion and for the social, economic, cultural, religious, and political history of 17th century Ireland, England and Scotland. The 1641 Depositions are held at Trinity College Dublin (Trinity College Dublin, MSS 809-841) and comprise 19,010 manuscript pages in 31 bound volumes.

Like the Great Parchment Book, the 1641 Depositions (as reported in a previous post More 17th century Irish history online) are also available online in a fully searchable digital edition including transcripts and images of all 8,000 depositions and associated material at www.1641.tcd.ie.

The 1641 Depositions have also been arranged for print publication in 12 volumes from 2014 onwards. The first three volumes have now been published by the Irish Manuscripts Commission as follows:

Volume I: Armagh, Louth & Monaghan

Volume II: Cavan & Fermanagh

Volume III: Antrim, Derry, Donegal, Down & Tyrone

Further details are available on the Irish Manuscripts Commission website.

Update on developments in Handwritten Text Recognition technology

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At its heart, the Great Parchment Book project is all about enabling access to archives using innovative techniques and technology. As previously reported in this Blog (Magic in Action), and in pursuance of this, our partners at University College London are also involved in the tranScriptorium project which aims to develop innovative, efficient and cost-effective solutions for the indexing, search and full transcription of historical handwritten document images, using modern, holistic Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) technology.

Now a large European project proposal has been developed as a follow-up. Called READ (Recognition and Enrichment of Archival Documents), it involves a multidisciplinary consortium of 13 partners, including UCL, working in Computer Science, Pattern Recognition, Machine Learning, Image Processing and Humanities. The consortium plans to start work in January 2016. You can find out more about the project on the tranScriptorium website.


 

Multispectral imaging at AHFAP’s 2015 conference

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The Association For Historical And Fine Art Photography’s 2015 30th anniversary conference is to be held at the RAF Museum, Hendon, London on 22 October 2015.

Speakers include Lindsay MacDonald, a Research Fellow at University College London who will speak on Multispectral Image Capture and Research at UCL.

Lindsay, along with colleagues also involved in the Great Parchment Book project, has researched and written about the documentation of parchment degradation using multispectral imaging based on material supplied by London Metropolitan Archives. During the imaging phase of the Great Parchment Book project, he visited LMA to take multispectral images of the Great Parchment Book itself.

More details about the conference may be found here.

Great Parchment Book shortlisted for prestigious conservation award

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It is with great pleasure we announce that Conservation of The Great Parchment Book has been shortlisted for The Pilgrim Trust Award for Conservation 2015. The award recognises excellence in conserving an individual or collection of cultural heritage objects in the UK.

Pilgrim Trust

Four shortlisted projects, including the Great Parchment Book, are now in with a chance to win a coveted prize fund, trophy and attend the VIP awards ceremony in October at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The Icon Conservation Awards recognise the highest standards of conservation, research and collections care within the UK art and heritage sectors. The Great Parchment Book project is in good company as some of the highest-profile conservation projects in the world have been short listed.

Icon Chief Executive Alison Richmond said “The screening panels had a hugely difficult task putting the shortlists together from a strong group of applications but we have a final list that reflects the diversity of the many wonderful conservation projects being undertaken by skilled professional conservators and dedicated volunteers throughout the UK.”

ICON awardsMore information about the ICON Conservation Awards is available on the ICON Conservation Awards website. You can keep up to date with news on Twitter using the hashtag #IconAwards15.

Great Parchment Book project in The Observer

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The Great Parchment Book project has featured in an article in The Observer, 5 July 2015 on conservation technology.

The Observer interviewed project lead Philippa Smith and conservation project supervisor Caroline De Stefani at LMA, and Professor Melissa Terras, co-supervisor with Dr Tim Weyrich, of the Great Parchment Book project at UCL.

The project is the meat in the sandwich between discussion of the British Library’s work on preserving old newspapers and project partner UCL’s research into multispectral imaging.

LMA is continuing to work with the Centre for Digital Humanities at UCL and also with the British Library through a SEAHA fully-funded studentship on the Multispectral Imaging of Documentary Material as reported in an earlier Blog post.

We’ll be updating this Blog with news of the SEAHA Multispectral Imaging project in due course, but watch this space for some exciting news about the Great Parchment Book project coming soon!

 

Supporting personal scholarship

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It is always good to get feedback on the worth of the project and to know that it is achieving what we set out to do at the outset for all potential users. In her recent post on the Worldwide Genealogy blog, Sue Adams of Family Folk cites the Great Parchment Book project as an example of high quality digitisation combined with careful and accurate presentation which best supports personal scholarship. The article is entitled Book Breaking and Digitisation and well worth a read.

Acts of the Corporation of Coleraine, 1623–1669

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Dr Bríd McGrath of Dublin, who is editing an edition of the Acts of the Corporation of Coleraine, 1623–1669 for the Irish Manuscripts Commission, has written to say how useful she has found the Great Parchment Book:

 “I really wish to congratulate everyone involved in this project on an extraordinary achievement. It’s an exceptionally useful source for the history of the period, including the extent and layout of the town and the defence obligations, not to mention the bits about women, about whom we have in general very little information.

It’s amazing how many members of Coleraine’s town council could not sign their names.  Quite astonishing, but absolutely in line with my view of them.”

The Acts of the Corporation of Coleraine, 1623–1669, which is still in private hands, records the decisions taken by the Common Council of Coleraine for the period 1623–1669. Sources for Coleraine are rather limited and the Great Parchment Book is invaluable in providing some identification and personal information about some of its citizens.  Dr McGrath is referring to it in the footnotes to her edition, identifying Coleraine’s inhabitants.

 It is hoped that Dr McGrath’s book will be published within the next few months. We will post more information here – watch this space!

Launch of the annual Susan Hockey Lecture in Digital Humanities

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To celebrate its 5th birthday, the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities has launched an annual invited series of lectures in the digital humanities where esteemed academics can have a public platform to speak about their work.

The series is named after Professor Susan Hockey, the Emeritus Professor of Library and Information Studies at UCL. To mark #UCLDH5, Susan Hockey will be giving the first inaugural lecture of the annual Susan Hockey Lecture in Digital Humanities.

The lecture, Digital Humanities: Perspectives on Past, Present and Future, will take place on Wednesday 27 May 2015, at 6pm (exactly five years after UCLDH was formally launched) in the Sir Ambrose Fleming Lecture Theatre, Roberts Building, UCL.

Everyone is welcome, but spaces are limited so please register to attend.

Visit to see multispectral imaging set up at UCL

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Interesting visit this morning (Tuesday 28 April 2015) to see the Multispectral Imaging System in the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities Multimodal Digitisation Suite. Meghan Hill, a hyperspectral imaging technician, gave an insightful demonstration using examples from the Library of Congress in the USA, as well as showing the live set up. The system gives UCL world-leading capabilities in the advanced imaging of cultural and heritage material and London Metropolitan Archives is pleased to be associated with UCLDH in this important research.

UCLDH multispectral digitisation

The visit has already given us some ideas about archives held by LMA to which the non-invasive techniques shown us can be applied to help us better understand the documents physically and make the information they contain more accessible, and indeed even reveal hidden treasures. Watch this space!

Beyond the Digital Humanities event

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Digital humanities as an academic subject is becoming increasingly popular and influential, but its relationship to orthodox academic disciplines and creative practice remains complex and unclear. And with commentators arguing that this is the ‘post-digital era’, this timely event at the School of Advanced Study, University of London will review and build on the work of NeDiMAH (Network for Digital Methods in the Arts and Humanities) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Presenters and panellists come from a range of international higher education institutions and research organisations who will also look at the relationship between policy, research and practice, examining the potential contribution to challenges such as creative cities, cultural heritage, big data and the relationship to new forms of science.

Beyond the Digital Humanities
School of Advanced Study, University of London
Tuesday, 5 May 2015 from 09:30 to 17:30

Register for the free, but ticketed event on 5 May here.

Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities 2015

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The 2015 Discovering Collections, Discovering Communities  conference will look at the varied and innovative ways in which archives, museums, libraries and academia can engage with audiences in the digital age.

The main conference themes will include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • The ways and means of digitally engaging with audiences
  • Funding for digital collaboration
  • The interrelation of the virtual and physical visitor
  • The creation of digital spaces for discourse, dissemination and delivery
  • Digital analytics and impact: measuring digital audiences to better understand their needs and behaviour, and to persuade decision-makers to commit resource.

When: 12 -14 October 2015

Where: The Lowry, Pier 8, Salford Quays, Manchester, M50 3AZ

DCDC 2015 is organised by Research Libraries UK and The National Archives.

More information, including a call for papers and workshops, is available here.

Plantation exhibition news

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A rare book, ‘Pacata Hibernia, Ireland Appeased and Reduced Or, An Historie of the Late Warres of Ireland’, is to go on display as part of the Guildhall Plantation Exhibition, from April 2015.

The Plantation Exhibition, currently located within Derry Guildhall, allows for changing exhibits and Derry City Council’s Museum and Visitor Services is delighted be able to showcase this hugely interesting rare book to a wide audience.

Bernadette Walsh, archivist, explains: “This publication is extremely rare and is illustrated with eighteen engravings of seventeenth century Ireland, detailing the final years of the Elizabethan Wars in Ireland and contains a long list of the Irish Nobility who fled to Spain in 1607, after the defeat of the Earls in 1601. The publication contains the background history to the Flight of the Earls, and the inevitable lead up to the Ulster Plantation and will be a welcome addition to the hugely successful Plantation exhibition, that has been visited by thousands of people since its installment as part of a multi-million pound regeneration of the Guildhall. ”

Minolta DSC     Minolta DSC

‘Pacata Hibernia’ was originally published in London in 1633 for Robert Milbourne. It is believed to be almost entirely composed by Lieutenant Thomas Stafford, who served under Sir George Carew. The very detailed maps and plans show the battle layout, military formation, horsemanship and fortifications of the times. These items will add interest to the exhibition showing further images of cartography which played a strong role in developments of the seventeenth century.

“It is important the archive collection reflects this period of history; original artefacts and archives are considerably lacking not only in our own collections, but also within collections across the island. This rare item was purchased and will now form part of our successful Plantation exhibition at the Guildhall.”

Research opportunity in the digital humanities

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Applications are being sought for a SEAHA fully-funded studentship: An optimised system for Multispectral Imaging of Documentary Material

This exciting cross-disciplinary project focuses on the multispectral imaging of documents to enhance the reading of lost text, corrections and watermarks. The project aims to develop standards for capturing and processing multispectral imaging in libraries, archives, galleries and museums; these standards do not currently exist. The student will work with conservators, archivists and industry specialists. The project will be supervised jointly by UCL Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering and UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, R B Toth Associates, British Library and London Metropolitan Archives.

The project is part of the EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology.

More details of the studentship and how to apply are available here. The application deadline is midnight on 1 April 2015.

SEAHA announces first international conference on heritage science

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SEAHA have announced the first international conference on heritage science research, innovation and best practice in the interpretation, conservation and management of cultural heritage of which the Great Parchment Book project is a prime example.

The conference at University College London will embrace the themes of materials, environmental and digital research and will feature presentations focusing on collaborative work between academia, heritage institutions and industry. A call for submissions is currently underway.

1st International Conference on Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology (SEAHA), University College London, 14-15 July 2015

The ESPRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology (SEAHA) is an 8-year initiative (2014-2022) to establish an infrastructure to meet challenges set by the heritage sector, industry and government. SEAHA was created by UCL, University of Oxford and University of Brighton, in collaboration with heritage, scientific, engineering and industrial partners. SEAHA will provide support for interdisciplinary students working on projects in collaboration with those partners.

The Digital Atlas of Derry~Londonderry

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A digital mapping resource is being developed which allows the user to compare maps of Londonderry for different time periods. It includes Thomas Raven’s map of 1622 which was surveyed just prior to the compilation of the Great Parchment Book.

The Digital Atlas of Derry~Londonderry is a collaboration between the Royal Irish Academy, Derry City Council and The School of Geography, Archaeology & Palaeoecology at Queen’s University Belfast.

Based on the Irish Historic Towns Atlas, no. 15, Derry~Londonderry by Avril Thomas (Royal Irish Academy, Dublin, 2005), the Digital Atlas provides users with historical and topographical information about the city of Derry for selected time-periods. The key map is a reconstruction of the city in 1831, which is presented in an interactive way. Streets, buildings, city walls/gates and public buildings are mapped and further detail such as name, dates and other historical information is provided in pop-up boxes.

Digital map of Derry-Londonderry

As well as the 1831 map, earlier and later historical maps, including Raven’s 1622 map, can be overlaid and compared. The different map layers reveal not only the way the city developed, but also the way that mapping evolved since the walled city was founded in the 17th century.

This web-GIS resource is still at an experimental stage, but is worth taking a look at.