[okfn-discuss] Fwd: New release: Addressing history - a new searchable historical database

Jonathan Gray jonathan.gray at okfn.org
Wed Nov 17 12:33:59 UTC 2010

Anyone know about this? And what license its under? ;-)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Maike Bohn <m.bohn at jisc.ac.uk>
Date: Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 12:23 PM
Subject: New release: Addressing history - a new searchable historical database
To: JISC-ANNOUNCE at jiscmail.ac.uk

AddressingHistory, a new website launching today, is asking history
enthusiasts to explore their ancestors and local historical
connections by finding and placing historical Scottish Post Office
Directory listings on the map.

Funded by JISC, the AddressingHistory website combines the listings
from the Directories, historical forerunners of Yellow Pages, with
maps from the same years. The site, which is free to use, allows users
to search for historical people, places and professions and presents
results both on a map and as an editable listing that links to the
full digitised Directory page.


Richard Rodger, Professor of Economic and Social History at the
University of Edinburgh said: “The Directories are particularly useful
not just for academics, for people who are professional historians
like myself, but also for local historians, school projects, really
for anybody who is interested in the way in which a city worked, how
it functioned. We can relate that to published work, to literature, to
other themes of historical analysis, to understand how change takes
place to our city”

AddressingHistory, developed by the JISC-funded data centre EDINA at
the University of Edinburgh in partnership with the National Library
of Scotland, launches with three Edinburgh Post Office Directories
from 1784-5, 1865 and 1905-6. They cover the period from the end of
the Scottish Enlightenment to the running of the city’s first electric
trams although, as Stuart Macdonald of the project team notes: “The
online tool has been designed to be scalable to accommodate the wider
range of Post Office Directories for the whole of Scotland.”

In addition to being a unique and noteworthy collection of street,
commercial, trades, law, court, parliamentary and postal information
relating to the city, the Edinburgh Directories also provide a wealth
of detailed information regarding residential names, occupations and

AddressingHistory harnesses the power of ‘the crowd’ by enabling users
to add to, or suggest corrections to, the Directory information It is
the addition of the geo-reference that allows the instant creation of
new maps to visualise the Directory listings – for example, the
historic distribution of shipwrights in Edinburgh can be plotted on a
base map at the touch of a button, and the map itself can be used to
look at the changing distributions of people and professions over
time). Similarly, personalised maps illustrating family histories,
maps tracking changes in local communities, and maps linking to other
digitised materials such as census records, historical addresses and
geo-referenced images, can all be explored through the online tool.

Chris Fleet, Senior Map Curator at the National Library of Scotland,
describes the role of mapping in the project:

"Geo-referencing the content of the Post Office Directories, and
creating dynamic maps of people or professions at the touch of a
button, opens up a whole new graphical way of visualising the
Directory content. By linking the results to a map of the same time
period, the distributions can also be understood and appreciated much
more readily. The AddressingHistory tool illustrates this new and
powerful way of interrogating the Directories cartographically and
geographically, and allows an important, but often neglected genre of
urban mapping to be given a new relevance today."

Alastair Dunning of JISC, which has funded the development of the
site, said: "JISC is delighted to see the launch of the Addressing
History website. The resource's ability to bring a new richness to the
geography of Edinburgh's past, thus helping family historians and
university lecturers and researchers, shows how the Internet can bring
different groups together to create new forms of knowledge."

Jonathan Gray

Community Coordinator
The Open Knowledge Foundation


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