Tag Archives: HRI

Old Bailey Proceedings Online celebrates tenth anniversary with audience of millions

The Old Bailey Online celebrated its tenth birthday this month (15 April 2013) after attracting over 34 million page views since it went live in 2003.

The searchable archive of proceedings from the Old Bailey trials from 1674 to 1913 has been used by scholars, students and the general public over the past decade to uncover multiple hidden histories.

Old Bailey Online has so far had over 34 million page views, more than 5 million visits and 3.5 million unique users from all over the world.

The website also provided the inspiration for the three series of the BBC One award-winning drama Garrow’s Law and the Radio 4 series ‘Voices from the Old Bailey’.

The founders of the Old Bailey Online, Professor Robert Shoemaker (University of Sheffield) and Professor Tim Hitchcock (Hertfordshire University) were awarded the Longman-History Today Trustees Award for their major contribution to history. The award was given for the ground-breaking Old Bailey and follow-up London Lives projects that point the way to the future of the discipline.
Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the National Lottery, the Old Bailey Online was developed at the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Sheffield.  Since its completion the same project team have added two new resources to widen its reach. London Lives, released in 2010, contains records relating to crime, poverty and social policy in eighteenth-century London. This fully searchable resource provides access to over 240,000 manuscripts from eight archives and fifteen datasets, giving access to the names of 3.4 million Londoners.  Locating London’s Past, launched in December 2011, allows place names from the Old Bailey Proceedings to be mapped onto John Rocque’s 1746 map of London and the first accurate modern Ordinance Survey Map (1869-80).

A pioneering online historical resource, the Old Bailey Online has inspired countless other online projects.  It is also included in several larger web resources, including Connected Histories, a search interface for twenty-two online historical databases.

Professor Shoemaker said:

“The Old Bailey Online has been used in many, many ways we never anticipated.   We are particularly proud of the fact it is a free resource, open to all, and we continue to be amazed at the creative work it facilitates.”

Additional information

Professor Robert Shoemaker:







Royal birth expected to boost public interest in unique historical resource

The birth of the Royal baby is expected to spark a surge of interest in Connected Histories, as users explore how royal births and their reception have changed throughout history.

Developed collaboratively with the University of Sheffield’s Humanities Research Institute (HRI), Connected Histories brings together 22 digital resources related to early, modern and 19th century Britain.

The search engine allows researchers to collect and share important sources for British history in one place, showing up unexpected connections and surprising parallels, whether from 19thcentury newspapers, the records of courts and parliaments, or drawings. It also allows sophisticated searching of names, places and dates.

The project, funded by Jisc, an organisation which champions the use of digital technologies in education and research, is a partnership between the University of Sheffield, the University of Hertfordshire, the Institute of Historical Research and the University of London.

The University of Sheffield’s HRI developed and maintains the search engine which drives the Connected Histories website, comprising around 30 billion items of data which have been analysed using language algorithms to facilitate searching by keyword, person name, place and date.

A search for terms related to ‘royal births’ highlights a wealth of information drawn from historical sources across British history, revealing changes in medical practices, celebrations and cultural behaviours.

Highlights include:

Professor Bob Shoemaker, Director of Research at the University of Sheffield’s Department of History, said: “The significance of events like this lies in large part in the long historical tradition in which they are situated. By providing unprecedented access to an extraordinarily rich collection of documents, Connected Histories revolutionizes the possibilities for anyone interested in history to find out more about our fascinating past.”

See the full article on the University news feed.

Image: Proof of an illustration to G.Abbott a Beckett, ‘Comic History of Britain’, 1847

Intoxicants and Early Modernity

A £730,000 award by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) will allow researchers to explore the social, economic, political, and cultural significance of intoxicants between 1580 and 1740.

The project, Intoxicants and Early Modernity, aims to enrich and enhance contemporary debates about intoxicants from a fully researched historical perspective.

Led by the Department of History’s Professor Phil Withington the project team involves the Humanities Research Institute (HRI) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A).

The HRI will play a key role in the project, developing an ontology-based dataset which records the entire economy of intoxicants during the early modern period using primary source materials located in The National Archives, V&A and regional archives. The team will be able to interrogate the data and visualise the results in ways which reveal new trends and relationships.

For more information visit the project’s website.