Tuesday 18 January 2022 – Postgraduate Panel I – Megan Kelleher (Kent), Alice Kinghorn (Bristol), Bob Pierik (Amsterdam)
Session chair: Tessa Hauswedell
The IHR Digital History Postgraduate Panels showcase historical research using digital methods that is taking place in the postgraduate community. A series of short papers will be followed by a question and answer session.
Paper 1: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s eFiles and their Impact – Megan Kelleher, University of Kent
During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Archive Team at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) began systematically cataloguing and digitising the Enquiries (or “E”) files held in their archives. While this work is not complete, the eFiles digitised so far have been fundamental to my research. Through looking at the eFiles pertaining to the First World War dead buried in England, I have been able to uncover a variety of stories representative of the Commission’s work in Britain. From the challenges of maintenance to the concerns of the bereaved, the CWGC’s eFiles make fascinating reading. In this paper, I will be discussing some of the stories that were of particular interest to my study of the commemoration and care of First World War dead in Britain. I will be highlighting how they have impacted on my Ph.D. research, and the broader effect they have on the British public’s understanding of commemoration.
Paper 2: National Datasets: Tracking Donors and Subscribers to Nineteenth-century Anglican Missionary Societies – Alice Kinghorn, University of Bristol
Anglican missionary societies, including the Church Missionary Society and The Conversion Society, had a substantial presence in the early nineteenth-century Anglophone Caribbean. Members of these societies participated in, and perpetuated the slavery system, and indeed, prolonged the emancipation process of enslaved people. In order to understand the societies’ actions in the Caribbean, individuals in Britain who financially supported the societies must be examined. This paper will thus discuss the production of a searchable, digital, dataset for my Ph.D. that tracks the genders, occupations, and political beliefs of those subscribing to and donating to these societies. It will discuss a significant aspect of this dataset in detail: the cross-referencing of the supporters of these two Anglican Missionary societies with UCL’s Legacies of British Slavery Database. The paper will go on to discuss the wider benefits of tracking missionary donors across Britain, alongside the advantages and problems of quantitative studies in transatlantic slavery.
Paper 3: Mapping mobility: Capturing snapshots of everyday life to study early modern gender and space – Bob Pierik, University of Amsterdam
In this paper, I will show how I processed snapshots of everyday life from depositions in Amsterdam’s notarial archive and used these reconstruct intracity mobility. It is a reflection and showcase of a chapter of my Ph.D. research on gendered everyday mobility in early modern Amsterdam, for which I used a broad selection of tools in the digital historian’s toolkit: QGIS, Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR), and an SQL database. I will argue that digital methods help us pin down tricky objects of study, such as mobilities and everyday life. Furthermore, I will reflect on the notarial archive of Amsterdam: Previously notoriously difficult to access, the ongoing digitization and crowd indexation of the notarial archive of Amsterdam is building a structure that is well underway to become the Dutch Republic’s equivalent of the online Old Bailey.