Tuesday, November 16, 2010

AddressingHistory - Finding Individuals and Professionals in Post Office Directories on Maps

I'm not often so impressed.

The beta search site from AddressingHistory, a partnership between EDINA and the National Library of Scotland using materials already digitised, is an online tool aimed at a broad range of users, both within and outwith academia (particularly local history groups and genealogists), to combine data from digitised historical Scottish Post Office directories with contemporaneous historical maps.

The project will focus on three eras of Edinburgh mapping and Post Office directories (1784-5, 1865, 1905-6) however the technologies demonstrated will eventually include the National Library of Scotland's full collection of digitised materials including 400 directories and associated maps covering the whole of Scotland.

The online tool currently allows you to search by surname, place or profession within a specific Scottish Post Office directory for Edinburgh and Leith. You can choose whether to have overlays of maps by Alexander Kincaid, 1784; Bartholomew Post Office Plan, 1865; Johnston Post Office Plan, 1905.

In this example, I searched for doctors for the 1865 directory and got this great image,

which I can move around, zoom into and out of. The map is followed by a listing of the search results (in this case, 116 doctors), and there's a blue kite-shaped pin for each result. Hovering over a pin shows the name of the associated individual. I can click on an individual result and see the corresponding page from the Post Office directory. Most of the doctors are in and around the New Town area, with a few around the University of Edinburgh, and on the road down to Leith, and that's surprising; I expected that the doctors would have been dispersed over a wider area.

Try the AddressingHistory site yourself.

There's a launch event in Edinburgh on Wednesday 17th November with a packed half day of talks and demonstrations at the National Library of Scotland (NLS):

• Welcome – Cate Newton (Director of Collections and Research, NLS)
• Introduction – Professor Robert Morris (Emeritus Professor of Economic and Social History , University of Edinburgh)
• AddressingHistory presentation and launch – Stuart Macdonald (AddressingHistory Project Manager, EDINA) & Nicola Osborne (AddressingHistory Project Officer & Social Media Officer, EDINA))
• Visualising Urban Geography project – Professor Richard Rodger (Professor of Economic and Social History, University of Edinburgh)
• Statistical Accounts of Scotland – Dr Helen Chisholm (EDINA)
• NLS Digitised Historic Mapping – Chris Fleet (Senior Map Curator, NLS)
• Tobar An Dualchais – Kenny Beaton (School Of Celtic and Scottish Studies, University of Edinburgh)
• Internet Archive digitisation project(s) – Lee Hibberd /Ines Mayfarth (NLS)
• Wrap Up followed by demonstrations

There will be videos of the speakers online after the event.

(With thanks to Scottish Genes for making me aware of the event)

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