Digital Book History

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on fields of digital history:

Scribes of the Cairo Genizah:

list of resources:

Galey 2012

Early Print:

Coloring Book -- detect different colors in papers in a digital facsimile:

Watermark recognition: /

Dramatic Extracts

Digital Miscellanies Index, work of Abigail Williams:

Perdita Project

Archaeology of Reading

Book of Hours virtual reconstruction on fragmentarium

Sonia Massai and Heidi Craig, Paratexts

Liza Blake, -- locating Margaret CAvendish; her books are all over because they were cheap

Jim Mussell, The Nineteenth-Century Press in the Digital Age

Stephen Pumfrey et al., "Experiments in 17th century English: manual versus automatic conceptual history," Literary and Linguistic Computing -- pairs with Shore 2019

Kathryn Rudy, "Dirty Books"

Visualizing a library:

From Jon Lamb, "Digital Resources for Early Modern Studies," SEL 2018:


  • Women Writers Online
  • English Broadside Ballad Archive
  • Oxford Text Archive -- can open records in Voyant
  • Newton Project
  • London Lives, 1690-1800
  • Casebooks Project
  • Digital Bodleian
  • Digital Scriptorium
  • Early Modern Manuscripts Online
  • Henslowe-Alleyn Digitisation Project
  • Verse Miscellanies Online
  • Center for Editing Lives and Letters -- myriad projects
  • Hartlib Papers
  • 1641 Depositions
  • Records of the Parliaments of Scotland to 1707
  • Down Survey of Ireland
  • Selden Map of China
  • An Electronic Edition of John Strype's A Survey

Metadata aggregators

  • Renaissance Knowledge Network
  • Cultures of Knowledge -- leading to Early Modern Letters Online
  • Lexicons of Early Modern English
  • Lost Plays Database
  • Database of Early English Playbooks
  • Records of Early English Drama -- Early Modern London Theatres -- Patrons & Performances
  • World Shakespeare Bibliography Online
  • Records of London's Livery Companies Online
  • Bod-Inc Online -- all of Bodleian's incunabula


  • Renascance Editions
  • Representative Poetry Online
  • Social Edition of the Devonshire Manuscript
  • Digital Donne, Online Variorum
  • Holinshed Project
  • Unabridged Acts and Monuments Online
  • Richard Brome Online
  • Internet Shakespeare Editions -- Digital Renaissance Editions
  • Folger Digital Texts -- Digital Anthology of Early Modern English Drama -- Understanding Shakespeare tool (partnership with JSTOR)


  • Stuart Successions Project
  • Six Degrees of Francis Bacon
  • Map of Early Modern London
  • Early Print
  • Palladio
  • Visualizing English Print




Traherne Digital Collator:

  • "Traherne Digital Collator is an open source software tool for collation of early modern texts by allowing more detailed and efficient collation than was previously possible. This software brings ease of use and flexibility for collators who have often had to endure health hazards caused by tedious and time-consuming mechanical and optical methods of collation. Traherne was initially developed for the The Oxford Traherne project but is now being used by a variety of prestigious scholarly editing projects across the world. Since Traherne is open source software, users have the freedom to use it for any purpose and share it with colleagues without paying any fees."


A CT Scan of the St Cuthbert Gospel:

Using XRF to identify 19c illuminations added to late 15/early 16c ms:

Transcription & Digital Paleography


  • "Transkribus is a comprehensive platform for the digitisation, AI-powered recognition, transcription and searching of historical documents. Transkribus can be trained to recognize exactly the documents you are interested in: Arabic, or English, Old German or Polish, Bangla, Hebrew or Dutch."


  • "kraken is a turn-key OCR system forked from ocropus. It is intended to rectify a number of issues while preserving (mostly) functional equivalence."


  • "A project providing digital recognition of handwritten documents using machine learning techniques."



  • "Archetype is an integrated suite of web-based tools for the study of medieval handwriting, art and iconography. Using Archetype, scholars can annotate, describe and tag an image, or part of an image."

Digital Text Editing

TEI Publisher:

  • "Publish your digital edition without writing code. Using the TEI Processing Model, customising the appearance of the text is all done in XML."

Textual Communities:

Mapping the History of Texts

Mapping Manuscript Migrations:

  • "Mapping Manuscript Migrations (MMM) is a semantic portal for finding and studying pre-modern manuscripts and their movements, based on linked collections of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, the Bodleian Libraries, and the Institut de recherche et d'histoire des textes."


  • "This portal is a virtual library of libraries: discover the history of various texts and books that were written, translated, illuminated, collected and catalogued from Classical Antiquity through the 18th century."

Labeculae Vivae, a library of stains:

  • "The Library of Stains project aims to gather scientific data, drawn from stains found on parchment, paper, and bindings in medieval manuscripts. This data will provide a new way for researchers, conservators, librarians, and the public to access information concerning the material makeup of medieval manuscripts, their medieval uses, and new approaches for modern studies."

Building Data Infrastructures



  • "SSHOC will create the social sciences and humanities area of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) thereby facilitating access to flexible, scalable research data and related services streamlined to the precise needs of the SSH community."


John Ladd, CA essay:

Nora Benedict's work:

Exploring Big Historical Data -- -- includes companion website with visualizations

News Networks in Early Modern Europe

Blaine Greteman, Shakosphere:

Sherman, "The Social Life of a Book"


Jason Scott Warren, "reconstructing manuscript networks"

Scott Selisker, “The Bechdel Test and the Social Form of Character Networks,” New Literary History (2015)

Galloway 2012 for a critique of social network visualizations
O'Neill, Lindsay. The Opened Letter: Networking in the Early Modern British World. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.
Michael Gavin, “Historical Text Networks: The Sociology of Early English Criticism,” Eighteenth-Century Studies (2016)
Bode 2018 -- chapter 5

Blaine Greteman, "Milton and the Early Modern Social Network: The Case of the Epitaphium Damonis," Milton Quarterly (2015)

Milton not as solitary author but as social author

"writing cannot be separated from the networks that make it possible and that it helps construct"

visualization of Milton's epistolary networks

weak social ties (people you aren't close with but whom you see often) often disseminate work more than strong ties (family)

Jenna Townend, “Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches to Early Modern Networks: The Case of George Herbert and his Imitators,” Literature Compass (2016)

we should move past network as metaphor and do actual network analysis

Evan Bourke, “Female Involvement, Membership, and Centrality: A Social Network Analysis of the Hartlib Circle,” Literature Compass (2017)

shows that Dorothy Moore Dury and Katherine Jones, Viscountess Ranelagh, were both central to the Hartlib circle using social network measurements -- as central as other male figures who have been ignored, even as taking them out of the network does not alter it much

Ruth Ahnert, “Protestant Letter Networks in the Reign of Mary I: A Quantitative Approach,” ELH (2015)

visualizing network of martyrs from Book of Martyrs -- 289 letters; recording whom to/from, other social links; determining centrality to network

letter carriers and financial sustainers were more important, their significance increased as martyrs died; emphasized role played by women

Ray Siemens et al., "Drawing Networks in the Devonshire Manuscript (BL Add 17492): Toward Visualizing a Writing Community's Shared Apprenticeship, Social Valuation, and Self-Validation" (2009)

using network analysis on Devonshire manuscript helps bring to light aspects of the manuscript that have been glossed over in critical attention to Thomas Wyatt

"Many issues illuminated by these tools would be difficult to identify and examine when looking at the flat manuscript page: the centrality of Margaret Douglas’ interactions, for instance, or the emergence of certain words such as “women” and “foe,” which demonstrate the conspicuousness and importance of certain themes and how they relate to the social networks in specific sections of the manuscript."

James Lee, Jason Lee, "Shakespeare’s Tragic Social Network; or Why All the World’s a Stage" (2017)

Abstract: "We propose that network visualization is a digital humanities method that can “explore” and “negotiate” the space between text and performance in the study of Shakespeare. The networks developed in this project use the language of Shakespearean plays to trace the relationships between characters in space, in effect, translating the literary text into a web of spatial relations, which are difficult to perceive solely in the act of reading. Our analysis presents a particular method of network visualization, and also demonstrates how this technique can be used as a critical tool to revise our understanding of social disorder in Shakespearean tragedy. We therefore propose a dual scope for this paper. At a methodological level, we argue that network visualization is a way to infer staging and the “blocking” of theatrical space from the language of the playtext. In our case study, we show how this technique can be used as a form of Shakespearean literary criticism deploying this method to reframe the larger question of social disorder in his tragedies. The network visualizations used in this analysis serve as a stable and reproducible way, beyond any single performance, to delineate how the language of Shakespeare’s plays structures the relationships of characters in space. This study represents the beginning of a digital method that aims to bridge text and performance in the study of Shakespeare by reading the dramatic text for the linguistic codes that organize the space of the stage."

John R. Ladd, "Imaginative Networks: Tracing Connections Among Early Modern Book Dedications" (2021)

"In this essay, I take advantage of the additional names that authors added to their dedications to create an expanded network of print relationships that includes contemporary social bonds alongside historical—and even fictional—associations. These networks show that (1) naming in dedicatory practice is driven as much by untimely references to political and religious figures as by contemporary authors and patrons, and (2) these references, citations, and addresses through naming are responsive to political and social change, e.g. when the midseventeenthcentury political crises arrive, dedicatory naming shifts markedly toward untimely references." (65)

"The imaginative network of a text involves all of these figures together, and by considering them in a single network, I use network metrics—density, degree, strength, betweenness—to better understand the interlocking motivations that underlie text creation, including patronage, social and cultural aspiration, anxieties of influence, and social relationships." (66-7)

"early modern dedicatory practice is not mainly organized around presentday figures, as it is usually described. Instead the networks are tied together by a range of figures from the recent and distant past. And though these imaginative networks are not focused on contemporary figures, they are nonetheless responsive to contemporary politics. Shifts in network structure and centrality measures from the 1630s through the 1660s account for changes in dedicatory practice that arise from the political crises of that period: the replacement of the monarchy with a republic followed by the Protectorate, the exile of large portions of the English nobility, sudden shifts in censorship laws and printing regulations, and everchanging political and religious discourses. Rather than flattening the effects of political and social change on dedicatory practice, the untimeliness of naming in dedicatory networks alerts us to key moments of discursive shift amid political change." (67)

dedication as space where imaginative relationships with people real and fictional are staged

greater interest in paratexts recently

"Paratexts occupy a liminal position between data and metadata. As part of the primary source, they can be considered data itself, but for the ways they comment on and relate to the main text, they are also a form of metadata." (69)

"Because of the dedication’s unique role in justifying the work’s existence within a social sphere, the names mentioned within it are particularly relevant to our understanding of the social networks of print culture, as well as an especially good part of the text in which to examine the political effects that I take up in this essay." (70)

"Names from the distant past appear with more regularity across the corpus than contemporary figures almost as a rule. I see this as an important corrective to the practice of using dedications to tell us only about authorpatron relations." (90)

"From the evidence above we can conclude that dedicatory networks are not bound by the relationships of the present day. On the contrary, one of the clearest features of these networks is the high centrality of names from the distant past. However it would be incorrect to extend that conclusion to say that the historical context of a dedication doesn’t matter. Even though dedicators are invoking names from a wide swathe of history, they are doing so in response to the economic, social, and political concerns at the moment of publication." (91)

Big Data

Bode 2012

Priya Joshi, "Quantitative Method, Literary History"

Simon Eliot, "Very Necessary but Not Quite Sufficient"

Historians Macroscope

Robots Reading Vogue:

Cliometrics; see Humphrey Moseley and the section on Gants' paper -- footnote 2 summarizes use of quantitative data to study book trade to that time

Topic Modelling,

Natalie Houston:

Ed Finn, Lit Lab pamphlet:

Janice Radway's work as forerunner


Robert Darnton website:

Locked chest of 17c letters:


see Facsimiles page "Charles Stothard was commissioned to draw the Bayeux Tapestry for the Society in 1816. During his 3 visits to Bayeux he also made small plaster casts - by taking wax impressions of the linen - to capture the detail of the embroidery. Of course, this would never be allowed today!"

Lazarus Project:

Early Manuscripts Electronic Library:

early article on shifting print to digital books:

  • "States that the transition from book to screen requires analytical comparison, and that the structure of the book cannot be translated to the screen without consideration of new spatial practices afforded by hypermedia "architexture." Discusses similarities between digital and printed documents and the implications for the digital document as a textscape. (PA)"

Computer Vision

  • XRF testing of pigments on a manuscript initial; seems suspicious, not in the style of the period, testing showed they weren't

x-ray scans of scrolls:

Tim Stinson, “Knowledge of the Flesh: Using DNA Analysis to Unlock Bibliographical Secrets of Medieval Parchment” (2009)

aDNA = “ancient DNA”

Nuclear DNA

Mitochondrial DNA: only contains DNA passed matrilineally

1996, tests on Dead Sea Scrolls

Stinson and Stinson tested parchment leaves bought for this purpose to see if they were from the same cow

Mostly calves were used; wouldn’t be old enough to reproduce, so no organism found in DNA analysis will be ancestor of another organism found in DNA analysis

Potential benefit to bibliography:

  • Localizing herds, helping cluster manuscript locales
  • Studying the parchment trade
  • Analyzing the construction of codices -- showing relationships between leaves in a book
  • resolve debate / puzzles about individual books

Tim Stinson, “Counting Sheep: Potential Applications of DNA Analysis to the Study of Medieval Parchment Production” (2011)

Sarah Fiddyment et al., “So You Want to Do Biocodicology? A Field Guide to the Biological Analysis of Parchment” (2019)

“Biocodicology, the study of the biological information stored in manuscripts, looks to expand the field of codicol- ogy to include the biomolecular techniques of proteomics [3] and genomics [4, 7] to further develop our understand- ing of how manuscripts were produced and used through history and how this can help shape and inform our views of the past.” (1)

Follicle patterns have been used to determine the animal of origin, but not always accurate

Early efforts used destructive sampling, limited in scope

Also studies of microenvironment of manuscript among conservation community

“During the last decade, we have seen both a genomic and proteomic revolution, offering the technological advances necessary to more fully unlock the biomolecu- lar data held within parchment documents and histori- cal artefacts in general.” (2)


  • Specimens usually degraded, but can tell species and breed, sex
  • More labor and time intensive than protein analysis

PROTEOMICS (proteins)

  • More robust survival rates than DNA
  • Peptide mass fingerprinting (PMF): looking at profile of one protein using a mass spectrometry to identify species
  • Basis of ZooMS and eZooMS techniques for non-invasive use on parchment
  • Proteins are tissue-specific, so can identify e.g. egg white wash and type of chicken the egg came from

MICROBIOME (microbial genetics)

  • Gather by collecting eraser crumbs
  • Radiocarbon dating is too destructive for most heritage materials

Cahill, Kusko, and Schwab, "Analyses of Inks and Papers in Historical Documents Through Beam PIXE Techniques" (1981)

Jeffrey Abt, "Objectifying the Book: The Impact of Science on Books and Manuscripts" (1987)

Paul Koda, "Scientific Equipment for the Examination of Rare Books and Manuscripts" (1987-8)

four types of equipment:

  • major equipment like particle accelerators
  • equipment found at most universities, like electron microscope, usually scanning electron microscope to give 3d surface of paper (requires extracting specimen)
  • equipment found in libraries
    • optical microscopes
    • photographic cameras
    • watermark reproduction
      • beta-radiography; takes time to process but can see watermark without ink obscuring it
      • DYLUX process
    • mechanical/optical collators
      • Hinman collator
      • Lindstrand comparator
      • McLeod collator
    • ultraviolet lamps
  • common equipment
    • micrometer calipers, measuring the thickness of paper
    • viewfinders
    • dividers
    • rulers