Digital Witness

The top section of the front page of an issue of the newspaper "the witness", yellowed with age, the title is centre top and the rest of the image is filled with articles in very small writing.

We have started digitising The Witness newspaper!

This twice weekly newspaper was created by the Church of Scotland in 1840 and edited by Hugh Miller (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hugh_Miller ), an influential writer, geologist and stone mason. The Church of Scotland wanted a newspaper that reflected a Christian outlook, as well as news and comment from across Scotland. In 1843 The Church of Scotland was faced with 200 ministers walking out citing political interference, an event which came to be known as the Disruption, and led to the Free Church being established. Presbyterianism is founded on the basis that the people make the decisions, not an elite hierarchy, and the only head of the church, is God. This makes The Witness newspaper a fantastic primary source covering a significant event in Scotland’s social and religious history, and as such, a prime candidate for digitisation.   Continue reading

From Tantruming Cobots to Stephen Hawking at Work- CHDS at the AHFAP 2022 Conference

 

The Association for Historical and Fine Art Photogapher’s (AHFAP) conference is always a highlight of the year and, alongside 2and3D Photography at the Rijksmuseum and Archiving, it has become one of the must-attend events for any cultural heritage imaging professional. This year we were fortunate that AHFAP took place at the National Museum of Scotland here in Edinburgh, meaning for the first time ever the entire Cultural Heritage Digitisation team could attend!  Continue reading

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Out of (Kar)luck

Archive materials laid out on a table. In the background is an old, worn looking book held together with string sits on a conservation-safe pillow used for safely supporting books with fragile bindings. In the foreground is a plastazote foam sheet which is also conservation safe, on top rests a postcard with the image of two Highland pipers in a forest, beside it is an example of one of the letters from the collection.

For several months now I have been working as a Digitisation Operator at our studio in the main University library, and that time has flown by. A large part of my job is to take care of orders that come into the Cultural Heritage Digitisation Service (CHDS), which will often be requests from academics or researchers who require a digital copy of something from our collection. This means that I get to see a fantastic cross-section of what we have here, on a daily basis. This will usually be books, pamphlets, letters – any paper-based object that can sit safely on the scanner, and where the digitised copy doesn’t need to be publication-quality as this would be done on the high-quality cameras at a higher charge.

A recent favourite of mine was a set of letters and ephemera relating to a doomed Arctic expedition that set off from the west coast of Canada in June 1913, led by Canadian anthropologist Vilhjalmur Stefansson, and captained by American explorer Robert Bartlett. This was to be the last voyage of the Canadian ship, the Karluk.

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Witchcraft, Waulking & Will-o’-the-Wisps – Exploring the Maclagan Manuscripts

The ornate shield containing a post-horn watermark seen here is one of the most common watermarks found on paper produced in Europe and is the watermark that appears most in the Maclagan Manuscripts (Murphy, 2021). It was thought that the post-horn watermark might be linked to the establishment of the post office in England in the 1660’s, however examples have been found across Europe as early as the 14th century (Murphy, 2021).

Have you ever been stuck for a good nursery rhyme to tell your kids? Or needed a cure for a headache that just will not go away? Or perhaps you’ve found yourself wondering – what is the best way to protect my butter from being cursed by witches? If the answer to any of these questions is yes (or possibly “why would a witch curse my butter?”) then let me introduce you to the collection recently  digitised by our Cultural Heritage Digitisation Service team that can answer all these questions and more – the Maclagan Manuscripts.

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Student Interns Capture ‘The Student’

In February 2022, PhD students Vesna Curlic and Ash Charlton began their digitisation internships in partnership with the University of Edinburgh’s Library and University Collections and the Centre for Data, Culture, and Society. Together, they reflect on the joys and challenges of digitisation.

We were tasked with an internship project that has two main parts – half our time is spent in the Cultural Heritage Digitisation Service’s Digital Imaging Unit (DIU) in the University’s Main Library scanning early volumes of The Student, University of Edinburgh’s student newspaper. The other half of the time, we work to develop a training pathway for the Centre for Data, Culture and Society which will direct people towards resources for undertaking their own digitising projects. This post is part one of two, reflecting on our experiences digitising The Student.

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My Experience as a DAMS Metadata Intern

My name is Muminah and I’m about to enter my final year of studying Computer Science and Maths. For the past couple of months I’ve worked as a Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) Metadata Intern for the Uni’s Cultural Heritage Digitisation Service (CHDS) under the Library and Uni Collections (L&UC) department of ISG. 

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From Castles to Cradle: Photographing the Lyell Notebooks

I was delighted to take on the challenge of helping photograph the University’s collection of notebooks of geologist Sir Charles Lyell, and there’s a bit more to photographing 300 notebooks than one might imagine. The Cultural Heritage Digitisation Service is a fantastic team of people, and quickly welcomed me onboard. Prior to this posting, I’ve enjoyed a varied background, including photographing the contents of National Trust for Scotland castles as part of a major digitisation project Reveal, plus Polar and Northern Lights photography aboard expedition cruise ships.

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The Skene Album – An artistic partnership between author and artist

Collection: Walter Scott Image Collection; Persons: Scott, Walter; Event: N/A; Place: Scotland; UK; Category: Art; Description:

James Skene was a close friend of one of Scotland’s greatest and most influential writers. By profession  he was a lawyer, but he was also a keen amateur artist.

Skene and Scott first met as fellow Advocates at the Scottish Bar and were brought together by their common love of German literature. They were subsequently joint co-founders of the Light Horse Regiment and the pair formed a close friendship.

This particular album appears to have fallen into obscurity over the years, as it had been in private collections and out of public view. Skene made these sketches for Scott to use as a reference or aide-memoire when writing his novels. Knowledge of its existence does not appear in any research or exhibitions relating to Scott or Skene. We were very fortunate to have this new acquisition and it was a pleasure to personally handle this beautiful album and see every drawing up close.

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“A Beautiful Way to Remember” – Digitising the LHSA’s HIV/AIDS Collections

At the beginning of this year, I started in my role as the Cultural Heritage Digitisation Service’s new Digitisation Assistant. As part of the team responsible for providing the main digitisation services for the university’s heritage collections, I have been getting familiar with some the unique and varied collections here at the University of Edinburgh, as well as learning the ins and outs of cultural heritage digitisation. Continue reading

Introducing a 3D Digitisation Service: Feasible or Fantasy?

For the past eleven weeks I’ve had the opportunity to intern with the Digital Imaging Unit, working on a project to evaluate the potential of establishing a 3D digitisation service within the department. “3D digitisation” in this sense encompasses everything from the initial production of digital models – using suitable items from across the University Collections – to online display, preservation of 3D data, and 3D printing. The project was roughly organised into three phases: research, testing, and implementation.  

Although I worked primarily with Susan Pettigrew (Photographer, DIU) and Mike Boyd (uCreate Manager) I always felt supported by the other Library & University Collections staff; everyone I had the chance to speak to was eager to discuss their own work on top of contributing to the project. 

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