REMEDIATING THE ARCHIVE

INITIATOR FUND 

Project period: July – November 2016 

GW4 community leads 

University of Bath: Nina Parish 
University of Bristol: Leah Tether, James Freeman 
Cardiff University: Anthony Mandal (PI), Jenny Kidd 
University of Exeter: Gabriella Giannachi, Gary Stringer 

Project overview

‘Remediating the Network’ proposes to build a research community based in the intersection of two key areas of strength within GW4: archives/special collections and the digital humanities. 

Website: gw4archives.wordpress.com 
 Twitter: @GW4_Archives 

Background 

The GW4 has a wealth of archives and special collections that would benefit from more focused activity in digitisation and digital analysis. The Cardiff Rare Books, a collection of 14,000 items from the fifteenth to nineteenth centuries, has received scant attention as far as digital humanities are concerned. In addition to literary holdings such as the Penguin Archive and Early Novels Collection, Bristol includes nationally important election ephemera and Liberal party archives, both of which could result in rich digital projects that leveraged expertise in political history from across the GW4. Exeter’s Heritage Collections hold a particularly strong archive of twentieth-century literary papers from writers in the south west of England, and significant collections in Victorian culture, religious and monastic life, Arab and Islamic Studies, and Visual Culture, providing a wealth of examples for the digitisation of text and image, and the examination of best practice and efficiency in digital workflows. The Bill Douglas Museum provides access to a significant collection of pre-cinema, optical entertainment and early cinema artefacts, which gives scope for exploring innovative new methods in digitisation, to give more experiential representations of essentially dynamic objects. GW4 Treasures (http://gw4.ac.uk/gw4-treasures) identifies numerous collections of significant cultural and academic value spanning a range of fields, which this bid seeks to utilise and promote. Critically, the proposed network approaches these holdings by way of the growing interdisciplinary work currently undertaken by digital humanists within GW4.  

Project summary 

The community held a workshop bringing together 40 delegates from across GW4 for presentations and breakout discussions on the broad themes of broad themes of Researching, Creating and Teaching with Digital Archives. The workshop helped promote the richness and diversity of the GW4 collections, as well as better understanding of the projects that are being undertaken within each institution. Delegates were also able to share examples of good practice and discuss potential collaborations on current/future projects. 

The community went on to hold a GW4/JISC “hackday” giving delegates hands-on interactions with digital archives held by Jisc (Historical Texts and UK Medical Heritage digital archives) and an introduction to working with Wikipedia and Wikimedia tools.