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Richard Hawkins

Submitted Entry for 2013 Competition

Reconnecting the 19th Century World Using Digitized Historic Newspapers


During the last decade public funds have been used in a number of English speaking countries, including Britain, to digitize major collections of 19th century newspapers. However, many users of these digitized collections are unaware that their own country's digitized national collection is not the only database relevant to their particular search topic. My idea is the creation of a number of exemplars showing how connections can be made between the different national collections. In each of the exemplars below an aspect of the topic would be explored using newspapers.

Exemplar 1: The British Policy of Transportation of Convicts to Australia using British Library 19th Century Newspapers and the National Library of Australia's Trove Digitized Newspapers.

Exemplar 2: Nineteenth Century British Emigration using British Library 19th Newspapers and the National Library of New Zealand's Papers Past.

Exemplar 3: Nineteenth Century British Overseas Investment in the Malayan Rubber Industry using British Library 19th Newspapers and the National Library Singapore's Newspaper SG digitized 19th century Malayan and Singaporean newspapers.

Exemplar 4: Nineteenth Century British Overseas Investment in the American Railway Industry using British Library 19th Newspapers and the Library of Congress's Chronicling America 19th century digitized newspapers.


Assessment Criteria

The research question / problem you are trying to answer

Please focus on the clarity and quality of the research question / problem posed:

In my Higher Education Academy role I organize workshops on teaching and learning. For example, I gave a presentation on digitized resources at a HEA workshop I organised at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow in January. I was surprised that the historians at the workshop were not aware that information gleaned from the digitized British Library Newspapers database could be supplemented by searches in the other national digitized newspaper databases referred to above.

Please explain the ways your idea will showcase British Library digital collections

Please ensure you include details of British Library digital collections you are showcasing (you may use several collections if you wish), a sample can be found at http://labs.bl.uk/Digital+Collections

My idea will showcase 19th century British Library Newspapers by illustrating how it can be used to reconnect the 19th century world. My exemplars could also be used to highlight the value of 19th Century British Library Newspapers to users of the national digitized newspaper databases in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and the United States.

Please detail the approach(es) / method(s) you are going to use to implement your idea, detailing clearly the research methods / techniques / processes involved

Indicate and describe any research methods / processes / techniques and approaches you are going to use, e.g. text mining, visualisations, statistical analysis etc.

I am the author of a HEA Historical Insights Focus on Teaching booklet on Digitized Newspapers (2011) in which I make use of national case studies to illustrate how digitized newspapers might be used (see URL above). However, for this project I think animated films showing how to use British Library 19th Century Newspapers and the other databases to research the topics might be more user friendly than just text and pictures.

Please provide evidence of how you / your team have the skills, knowledge and expertise to successfully carry out the project by working with the Labs team

E.g. work you may have done, publications, a list with dates and links (if you have them)

The booklet referred to above was one of the outputs of a Higher Education Academy Teaching Development Grant funded project at the University of Wolverhampton to explore how British Library 19th Century Newspapers could be used to enhance the teaching of the history of Victorian Britain. So I can draw upon the skills, knowledge and expertise from this previous project.

Please provide evidence of how you think your idea is achievable on a technical, curatorial and legal basis

Indicate the technical, curatorial and legal aspects of the idea (you may want to check with Labs team before submitting your idea first).

I do not anticipate any technical or curatorial issues. I do not anticipate any legal issues with the Library of Congress, the National Library of Australia or the National Library of New Zealand. In the case of the National Library Singapore there might be issues regarding copyright. But I would anticipate that they are interested in achieving greater recognition of their resource.

Please provide a brief plan of how you will implement your project idea by working with the Labs team

You will be given the opportunity to work on your winning project idea between July 6th - October 31st 2013

Stage 1, July - Securing permission from all of the libraries to make use of their resources for the project. Refining the research concepts for the four exemplars.

Stage 2. August - Researching the 4 topics and identifying the newspaper articles to be used in the exemplars.

Stage 3. September - Story boarding the exemplars.

Stage 4. October - Filming the animated exemplars.