Archive for November, 2013

On 12 December 2013 the University of Hull will be hosting a one day FREE workshop for History postgraduates and early career researchers to help you better manage your data. The event is called History and Data Management: necessary bedfellows? To sign up to this event email Chris Awre (c.awre@hull.ac.uk), indicating your name, Department and University, plus any dietary or other requirements you may have in attending this event. A number of bursaries are available to help with travel costs so please indicate if you are interested in one of these in your email. For full details about the workshop click here.

This is what Chris Awre from the University of Hull has to say about managing data.   


Hull History Centre (our venue)

Hull History Centre (our venue)

The recent announcement of the first of three events on history research and data management being held by the AHRC-funded History DMT project offers the chance to understand to what extent these two, apparently disparate areas, are linked.  Research data are more usually associated with scientific disciplines, computers and equipment churning out numbers that can be analysed in multifarious ways.  This image may be stereotypical, if true, but also both hits and misses key points in appreciating the impact that research data has across all disciplines today.

The hit is in the use of computers to produce and store data.  This is not a feature simply of science now, though.  The field of digital humanities has highlighted the value of computing to non-scientific disciplines, and the ability to apply computing to research questions in these areas.  Data centres like the UK Data Archive have long existed to capture 800px-SteacieLibrarythe datasets produced, and have provided valuable resources for subsequent research by others.  Whilst this type of research might have been a specialised niche at one point, computing capability now makes it far more straightforward for data to be compiled by any researcher.  And if computing can be used in this way, the outcomes of that use, the data, will need managing.

The miss is in the definition of data.  Data can be numbers, certainly, but it can also be many other types of material collected together to inform research analysis.  The University of Leeds research data management web pages, whilst recognising the scientific origins of data management, describe well the breadth of what can be considered data.  The materials gathered by historians, be they numbers, images, multimedia, textual or statistical, can clearly fit within this scope.

At the centre of discussing data management for historians though, is not the ‘data’ per se, but more importantly ensuring that any materials gathered, created, or observed by history researchers are well managed.  This ensures they can support and inform the research effectively, and add to the body of knowledge that is generated through research overall.  In raising the bar for managing data, it highlights the value that data has.  Quite often data acts as the Cinderella to the publication that is based on the data; the advent of data publications (e.g., Journal of Open Archaeology Data) highlights this and provides an additional route for research dissemination.

The History DMT project and the forthcoming events are producing materials to assist with managing data when conducting history research.  The AHRC are specifically targeting the work at postgraduate and early career researchers, and all are encouraged to consider how they manage data in their research, either through the events or generally.  Come and join us to discuss and feed into the materials being produced, and ensure that history data gets the respect it deserves.

To register for the workshop please e-mail Chris Awre (c.awre@hull.ac.uk), indicating your name, Department and University, plus any dietary or other requirements you may have in attending this event. If you are interested in one of the bursaries please note this in your e-mail.  For full details of the event check our previous blog post.

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Going Underground: Travel Beneath the Metropolis 1863-2013
Tim White
“Crossing Oceans to Cross Rivers: Trans-Atlantic Knowledge & Capital in Tunnelling History”
18 January 2013
Pennsylvania Railroad tunnel, Hudson River (Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania Railroad tunnel, Hudson River (Wikipedia)

Abstract: Not long after the London Underground opened, American railroad companies sought to tunnel under the Hudson River, so they could connect their lines from New York City to all points west.  Although the earliest, failed tunnelling effort in 1874 was strictly American, the second attempt was decidedly British.  The 1888 Hudson River Tunnel Company was not only backed by British capital, but also relied upon the “greathead shield”, important for London’s Tower Subway.  It also failed to complete the tunnel under the mile-wide Hudson, but the half-finished sections it left behind facilitated the completion of a railroad tunnel in 1908.  The Chief Engineer for this final push was none other than Charles M. Jacobs, a brit.

This paper is about trans-Atlantic transfers of knowledge and capital in late 19th and early 20th century tunnel projects, with a focus on the efforts to tunnel under the Hudson River.  Charles M. Jacobs, the British mastermind behind New York’s first subaqueous gas tunnels in 1894, the 1908Hudson & Manhattan tunnels, and the 1910 tunnels of the Pennsylvania Railroad, was certainly a key player in these transfers, but the paper is not just about him.  In addition to Jacobs, Norwegian-born Ole Singstad was crucial to both the 1908 project and the Holland Tunnel, while the subterranean tracks of the original Pennsylvania Station were inspired by the Gare de Orsay in Paris.  For too long, American transportation historians have written about tunnelling without a proper trans-Atlantic lens. This paper will redress this imbalance.


Biography: Tim White completed his Ph.D. in History at Columbia University with Kenneth Jackson in 2007, and is now an Assistant Professor of History at New Jersey City University.  As a scholar, he has published a review essay in the Journal of Urban History, a full-length, peer-reviewed essay in Performing Arts Resources, and has a manuscript under contract and forthcoming from The University of Pennsylvania Press.  This manuscript chronicles the theatre-related craftwork (costumes, scenery, lights, shoes, etc.) of the American stage from 1880-1980.  By highlighting these activities as they dominated and then abandoned Times Square over the course of many decades, White argues that planning policy and structural economic shift transformed Times Square, if only briefly, into the Flint, Michigan, of American popular culture.  It presents the departure of theatre-related craft from Times Square in the 1960s and 1970s as a major cause of the larger theatre district’s struggles with crime, prostitution, and drugs.  His new research focuses on New York Harbor, its regional economy, and the late 19th and early 20th century tunnelling projects that were crucial to its continued growth.

To listen to this podcast click here.

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1820: disorder and stability in the United Kingdom
Malcolm Chase (Leeds)
Franco-British History seminar
30 May 2013


Abstract: 1820 was a year of European revolutions. The events of these twelve months were probably the greatest test any British peacetime government confronted during the nineteenth-century. However, historical understanding of this pivotal year has long been fractured by over-emphasis on the constitutional crisis caused by the attempt of King George IV to divorce his Queen (Caroline). The continuing problems of post-war economic and social dislocation are less clearly understood. The attempted mass assassination of the British Cabinet (‘Cato Street’) is typically dismissed as the work of isolated psychopaths, when it was an ill-judged consequence of a much wider conspiracy. Other episodes are largely neglected, for example the general election caused by the death of George III, uprisings in northern England and Scotland, and the dramatic acceleration of violent unrest (“Ribbonism”) in western Ireland. The Government was constantly alert to the possibility of concerted links between British and Irish – and even French – unrest.

To listen to this podcast click here.

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 History DMT project* event, Thursday 12th December, Hull History Centre, 11:00 am-4:00 pm

As part of the History DMT project between the Institute of Historical Research, Department of History at the University of Hull, and the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield, we will be running a series of workshops on the topic of managing data.  Here are the details for the first workshop.  Attendance is free and bursaries are available for travel costs.

800px-SteacieLibraryThe management of research data is often associated with scientific research: data flowing from technical equipment as the result of experimentation.  Data in a research context, though, covers many different types of raw material that can act as the basis for analysis.  This can include survey data, collections of facts or evidence, images, videos, interviews, statistics, etc.  In this digital age it is also easier to generate and collect this data than it has ever been, with readily available tools and storage options.

Increasingly, attention is being given to data management within the humanities, and history is no exception.  The UK Data Archive houses many historical datasets, and much historical research relies on gathering data together to carry out analysis.  Well-managed research data is being seen as a sign of good research practice, and having increased value as a research hull history centreoutput in its own right.

This event will explore the issues and benefits of research data management for history, highlight recent case studies, and introduce training materials being developed to assist history researchers in embedding data management as part of research practice.

To register for the event, please contact Chris Awre (c.awre@hull.ac.uk), indicating your name, Department and University, plus any dietary or other requirements you may have in attending this event.  Bursaries to assist with travel are available for PhD students and early career researchers – please indicate if you wish to apply for one of these in your registration.

For location details see the Hull History Centre webpage.

* The AHRC-funded History DMT (Data Management Training) project is arranging three workshops to address how research data management relates to, and can benefit, history research.  These will address different aspects of research data management and history, and the training materials being developed to support this.

Subsequent workshops will take place on 13th February in London, and 14th April in Sheffield.  Attendance at all three is recommended where feasible.

For more details about the History DMT project please see our previous blog post describing the project.

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 The IHR Seminar in Digital History would like to welcome you to its next seminar of 2013. 

Presenter:  Professor Rob Iliffe (University of Sussex)

Title:  Re-writing a life: Isaac Newton as revealed from his digital archive

Date:  12 November, 2013

Time:  5:15 PM (BST=GMT+1)

Venue:  Athlone Room, 102, Senate House, South Block, First floor, or live online at HistorySpot


Abstract: This paper will consider the experience of the Newton Project which has digitised and made available online the multimillion word organic personal and printed archive of Sir Isaac Newton. In doing so, the paper will also reconsider the life of Isaac Newton on the basis of his digitised Theological Papers and his other scientific and mathematical writings. (http://www.newtonproject.sussex.ac.uk/)

Speaker:  Rob Iliffe is the Director of the AHRC Newton Papers Project with an overall responsibility for completing the online publication of all four million words of Newton’s Theological Papers. He is also responsible for extending the scope of the original project to include dealing with Newton’s scientific and mathematical work. Rob gained his PhD from Cambridge University and is currently Professor of Intellectual History and the History of Science at the University of Sussex. He is the author of A Very Short Introduction to Isaac Newton (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), and has published extensively on early modern history and the history of science. He is currently completing a major work on Newton’s theology for online release.

Seminars are streamed live online at HistorySpot. To keep in touch, follow us on Twitter (@IHRDigHist) or at the hashtag #dhist.


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Going Underground: Travel Beneath the Metropolis 1863-2013
Ulrike Weber
The advantage of a trip abroad. The emergence of architectural Modernism
17 January 2013

Green.park.tube.london.arpAbstract: English Modernism has been neglected for a long time. It is only recently that researchers developed an interest in that field. London’s Underground tube stations of the interwar period are one of the earliest examples, which demonstrate one kind of development of Modernism. In Interwar Britain the leading figure at the London Underground Group was Frank Pick (1878-1941). In the same time he was involved in a small organisation, called the Design and Industries Association (DIA). Pick adopted the theoretical background laid by the DIA for his commercial aims and carried it out step by step. He commissioned an external architect Charles Holden (1875-1960) together they developed a new architectural style for the London Transport system. Primarily this style was meant as a corporate identity for the London Underground Group. But because both Pick and Holden were involved in the DIA it should act as an example of an architectural identity for London as a whole city and by 1930 was eventually changed to an architectural idiom of the British nation. Therefore the stations of the Piccadilly Line can be seen as Pick’s development of a national architecture. But since European developments had played such a huge role it became a European style and, compared with American architecture, even international. Nevertheless the Underground architecture stands for the importance of the DIA, the strong influence that Pick and the world of commerce has on the architectural development of the interwar period and lastly, for architectural developments in the context of national identity.


Biography: Dr. des. Weber studied art history at the Technical University Berlin and archaeology at Humboldt University of Berlin. She graduated in 2004 in medieval architectural history. She undertook a course in Digital Art History in Munich between 2005 and 2007 and has received DAAD scholarships for research stays in London. She is a freelance art historian and has attended numerous conferences and written articles and reviews including those for the German architectural magazine, Bauwelt. Since 2009 she has been an assistant professor at Technical University Kaiserslautern in the Department of Architecture. She received her Ph.D. from the Technical University Berlin in 2012 with the thesis ‘Frank Pick, Charles Holden and the DIA: the significance of cultural transfer in English Modernism’.

To listen to this podcast click here.

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