A new online exhibit explores the Underground Railroad in Fall River, Massachusetts. “A few clicks tell the stories of Sarah Anna Lewis, who beat the odds to become a school teacher in Fall River around 1870, only to lose her position to gender inequality once she was married; and of Henry Box Brown, a well-known fugitive who was a guest in a Fall River abolitionist’s home some years after he shipped himself in a wooden crate from Richmond, Virginia, to Philadelphia in 1849 after his wife and children were sold into slavery, plus many more.”
From Philly.com: Families torn apart by slavery sought lost loved ones in newly archived ads. “The goal of ‘Last Seen: Finding Family After Slavery’ is an online database of these snapshots from history, which hold names of former slaves, owners, traders, plantation locations, and relatives gone missing. So far, project researchers have uploaded and transcribed 1,000 ads published in six newspapers from 1863 to 1902: the South Carolina Leader in Charleston, the Colored Citizen in Cincinnati, the Free Man’s Press in Galveston, the Black Republican in New Orleans, the Colored Tennessean in Nashville, and the Christian Recorder, the official organ of the African Methodist Episcopal Church denomination published at Mother Bethel.”
A new Web site features a collection of early Victorian photography from the UK. “Launched by the Bodleian Libraries at the University of Oxford, the website brings together the complete works of William Henry Fox Talbot who is hailed as the British father of photography.” There are over 1000 images on the site now, with the expectation that will grow substantially through next year.
Phys.org: What did Big Data find when it analyzed 150 years of British history? “The main focus of the study was to establish if major historical and cultural changes could be detected from the subtle statistical footprints left in the collective content of local newspapers. How many women were mentioned? In which year did electricity start being mentioned more than steam? Crucially, this work goes well beyond counting words, and deploys AI methods to identify people and their gender, or locations and their position on the map. The landmark study, part of the University of Bristol’s ThinkBIG project, collected a huge amount of regional newspapers from the UK, including geographical and time-based information that is not available in other textual data such as books. Over 35 million articles and 28.6 billion words, from the British Library’s newspaper collections, representing 14 per cent of all British regional outlets from 1800 to 1950, were used for the study.”
A new site provides historical map views of Istanbul, Turkey. “A new online archive, created by Nil Tuzcu and his colleagues at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, allows viewers to pull the curtains back and observe some crucial milestones in the megacity’s evolution…. Here’s how it works: On the base map, users can overlay historical documents that go as far back as the 1850s and add georeferenced features like historical photographs. They can pile on multiple layers of data on the same map, or compare two milestones in a sliding window to see the change over time.”
Livingstone Online has released a new set of digital images. “To celebrate the longest day of the year in the southern hemisphere, the Livingstone Online team is delighted to release today digital images of 66 manuscript items drawn from six repositories across South Africa. The release marks the end of the first phase of a project that we plan to complete in 2017.” (Livingstone Online, of course, is devoted to the work of explorer David Livingstone.)
In development: a digital archive of historical humor. (I believe I have mentioned this before, but this is a good overview article with plenty of Victorian-era jokes.) “Millions of people in Britain will pull a cracker on Christmas Day, don the paper crown within, and inflict an old joke like this on their families. For my long-suffering household this experience will be all too familiar – they put up with it all year around, as I research the history of Victorian jokes. This might seem like a rather unpromising topic. After all, we’re accustomed to thinking of the Victorians as a rather humourless bunch – a straitlaced society in the fashion of their queen, who was famously ‘not amused’. But this old stereotype isn’t really fair.” The humor seems like an odd mix of dad jokes and things you would see on Hee-Haw.