“All in the End is Harvest.” A Researcher’s Encounter with the Dame Cicely Saunders Collection

Joyce-Elena Ní Ghiobúin graduated from Trinity College, University of Dublin, with an MPhil in Reconciliation Studies in 2012. Since then she has been researching denominational aspects of British-Irish nursing history in the late 19th and 20th centuries and may be contacted at nighiobj@tcd.ie.

Writing to a friend in 1960, Dr Cicely Saunders commented on the increased crisscross of letters, “We’re going to need an archivist someday to make sense of this!” [1]

That anticipation crossed my mind when first confronted with a selection of files at the King’s College London Archives. I was amazed by Dr Saunders’ eye for detail and her foresight in creating records of so many encounters – she must have had future generations in mind!

The documents I consulted were filed thematically, thereby often dating back to a specific period in her life. Yet two core interests spanned the years from her first involvement in hospice care in the late 1940s up until her death in 2005: her restless initiative in expanding her own medical awareness, and a preoccupation with the spiritual aspect in care provision.

These are encapsulated in the words of a patient who served as the founding narrative of the hospice: “I only want what is in your mind and in your heart”. [2] Saunders invested herself in caring for patients in the 1940s, saying “we had so often nothing to offer but ourselves”. [3] Because of this, her mentor Dr Barrett urged her to read medicine if she wanted to change end-of-life care because, in his words, “It’s the doctors who desert the dying”. [4]

p 14 vol 72 no 4 1974 FINAL

Figure 1. Cartoon, St Thomas’s Gazette, vol. 72 no.4 (1974), 14.

The material at King’s College London Archives provides a trail of primary documents beginning from the point at which Cicely Saunders decided to follow that advice. Among the papers placed in my hands as a researcher were the drafts of her M.D. thesis examining pain control among terminal cancer patients, which was a novel direction for research in the mid-1950’s as most doctors focused on curative care problems. The material includes her handwritten calculations and brainstorming exercises, interspersed with letters from her supervisor on how she might rearrange her thesis chapters to best effect. Two of Saunders’ letters are addressed to a professor of veterinary science who had developed tranquilizers for rhinoceros in Uganda using a mixture of morphine derivatives: she wrote to him in 1964 for further insight into analgesics and their tested effects. Still more files contain cuttings from medical journals on the most up-to-date pain control debates [Fig. 1]. Such early investigative thrusts – St Christopher’s would not open until 1967 – attest to Saunders’ resolve to base future hospice work on the best medical and ethical practice. She later affirmed that St Christopher’s was neither the first nor “the model” hospice, but an example of how up-to-date research might be conducted alongside intuitive patient attention in the same care-giving space.

Figure 2. Sketched on reverse of “St. Christopher’s Hospice: First Newsletter” (June 1964), draft. Saunders collected and encouraged the use of poetry for articulating the complex experience of giving and recieving palliative care. In this sketch, the handwritten text reads, “Sudden and Sweet/ Come the expected feel/ All life is new and new all art/ And He too Whom we love by heart” [K/PP149/2/3]

The collection also offers a chance to read through the layers of her accumulative insight into “total pain”, as she had called it by 1964, an understanding gained through hours of listening closely to hundreds of patients she interviewed while working at St Joseph’s Hospice. Through them she came to comprehend fully the patient’s place in a larger community and the need for a social and emotional aspect of care, such as in extending bereavement support to patients’ families. This not only symbolically tied the mind with the heart, but drew further on her available knowledge of “creative sensitivity” to the needs of everyone in the hospice community. Among Saunders’ papers are her collected poems, quotations and articles which substantiate this intuitive, artistic direction [Fig. 2, above]. They include lines written by patients in Britain and the U.S., some quotations translated “from the Chinese” and a few English poems from the 8th century A.D., including one dated c 780 called No Man is in the Fields. This latter poem found its way into her 1983 anthology for the bereaved and suffering, Beyond all Pain.

Beyond All Pain FINAL

Figure 3. Saunders’ own copy of “Beyond All Pain” is held as part of the library of Dame Cicely Saunders, King’s College London Archives

What is especially interesting in Saunders’ 1960s poetry collections is her preference for Christian poetry – including, for example, an amusing song from 5-year-old “Lucy” beginning with the line, “When the Baby was borned, Joseph said to Mary …” Her 1983 publication replaces most of these poems with choices that are more wide-ranging both denominationally and geographically, in itself reflective of Saunders’ personal journey in later years to reach beyond her “home” in the Anglican Evangelical tradition. Nevertheless, the thematic framework of Beyond all Pains chapters (e.g. ‘Suffering’, ‘Dying’ and lastly ‘Resurrection’) preserves a Judeo-Christian framework of meaning. For Saunders, “spirituality” was “much wider than religious practice. It is the search for meaning, the look at one’s own most important values, the feeling of looking beyond yourself and of somehow belonging to something more than you are”. [5] All researchers looking back on Saunders’ collections, regardless of their individual evaluation of the importance of the spiritual, face the fact that nearly a third of her publications, if not more, were concerned with the dynamics of “spirituality” in end-of-life care.

Bookcase 1 FINAL

Figure 4. The library of Dame Cicely Saunders, King’s Building. Access is available upon request through King’s College London Archives.

2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of St Christopher’s Hospice. This commemorative year, together with the research it promotes, is itself a season of transition, appreciation and learning, like that of Saunders’ in the years leading up to the establishment of St Christopher’s in 1967. As she herself remarked on Desert Island Discs in 1994, the modern hospice is not about “bricks and mortar” but rather about the attitudes, skills and ideas that are “spreading widely” because of St Christopher’s Hospice, enabling many patients to count their last days as their fullest. Her dedication in promoting pain control and personal concern helped to forge a comprehensive approach to medical care, a lifetime’s actualisation that is thankfully well-documented and well-looked-after. For the researcher of Hospice History as much as for the patient in its care, it might well be said, to quote a favourite anthology of Saunders’, “All in the end is harvest”.[6]

References:

[1] David Clark, “Making Sense of Cicely Saunders”. International Symposium on Cicely Saunders, Hospital San Juan de Dios, Pamplona, October 17th 2015.

[2] David Tasma, quoted in Shirley du Boulay, Cicely Saunders: The Founder of the Modern Hospice Movement (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1987), 56.

[3] Saunders, Watch with Me (Sheffield: Mortal Press, 2003), 41.

[4] Norman Barrett, quoted in du Boulay, Cicely Saunders, 63.

[5] Saunders in conversation. “Elements and Models of Palliative Care: A Conversation with Dr Cicely Saunders’’, Youtube. [Accessed 15 May 2017].

[6] This line is from Edith Sitwell’s poem Eurydice and was adopted as the title of an anthology by the same name edited by Agnes Whitaker. All in the End is Harvest: An Anthology for those who Grieve (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1984) was a valued volume in Dr Saunders’ personal collection.

“Honest, Sober and Industrious”. Academic Job Hunting, Twentieth Century Style.

The Manageress
Imperial Hotel
Russell Square, W.C.1

5th September of 1947

Dear Madam

I understand that your letter of yesterday’s date applies to Miss P–, who was a student here in the Department of Botany from 1932-1935 and did some part-time teaching work in the same Department from 1938-1939. I have not seen much of her since then, but I believe she has had some business experience, and when I last saw her (January 1945) she told me she was working for an insurance company. During the time she was at the College there was no doubt about her honesty, sobriety and industry and I shall be glad if she is able to take up employment with you.

Yours faithfully,
Registrar.

For those dependent on paid employment, trying to find one’s way in the world can be a long, arduous process, affected by such variables as previous work experience, education, demonstrable skills and the caprices of our interpersonal networks and referees. In today’s world, the academic job hunt can be especially fraught, but perhaps some comfort might be drawn from the knowledge that whatever our anxieties or disadvantages, someone, somewhere has been through it all before.

King’s College London’s personnel files, which include correspondence relating to job applications from the last century, tell us as much. Miss P. had a decent start in life, attending an independent school and Cheltenham Ladies’ College before attaining a second class degree from King’s. Her academic career, however, was limited to two terms as a part time Demonstrator in the Department of Botany, salaried at £35, before drifting into secretarial work and ending up, we presume, at the Imperial Hotel [KA/FPA/1939 P-W].

KAFPA1939 P-W Miss Pease BLANKED NAME

Imperial Hotel letter requesting a reference for Miss P, 1947 [KA/FPA/1939 P-W]

In today’s tough job-hunting climate, part-time sessional teaching staff commonly bemoan the insecurity of their positions and the brevity of their contracts in a world where permanent, full-time academic tenure becomes rarer each year. Competition for academic posts was arguably less aggressive in the interwar period prior to the mass conversion of colleges to independent universities after 1945, but teaching could still be precarious. Dr C, for example, was hired as a part time Lecturer in Anatomy every year for seven consecutive years between 1930 and 1937, submitting to the circular process of applying and waiting for the formal offer of employment for his own job each time [KA/FPA/1939 A-M]. For successful candidates the turnaround of job offers was nonetheless speedy, even in the pre-Internet age. Acceptances were expedited by telegram when twice-daily snail mail just wasn’t fast enough.

KA FPA 1939 Telegram

Accepting a post by telegram Telegram, 1935 [KA/FPA/1939 P-W]

At King’s, standardised application forms were introduced in the late 1920s and have changed very little over the years, except for a brief period from the 1970s when marital status appeared as a category. Today’s forms also allow considerably more space for applicants to write their details.

King’s Application Form, 1929 [KA/FPA 1929]

Prior to the introduction of the form, applicants were expected to supply written references along with covering letters and a CV up front. It would appear that the physical presentation of written references at this early stage in the application process was closely tied to the stature of vacancy. In 1900, applicant Reverend H. C. Beeching went to the considerable trouble of having testimonials type-set and printed in letterpress. Beeching’s five references were presented in the form of an eight page booklet, a one-off prospectus for the applicant designed expressly for the position including Beeching’s covering letter. “My Lords and Gentlemen,” Beeching wrote, “I beg leave to offer myself for the post of Pastoral Theology of King’s College…I could promise that the work of the Professorship, if I were entrusted with it, should have my best care.” Beeching’s supporters concurred, testifying to his “uncommon power of exposition, and his reasonable attitude to matters of controversy in religion.” It was said that Beeching was possessed of “…a strong sympathy with young men, and with their difficulties, and enthusiasms, and aspirations” [KA/ FPA 1900].

KA FPA 1900

Letterpress booklet containing testimonials for Reverend H. C. Beeching in respect of the position of Professor of Pastoral Theology, King’s College London, 1900 [KA/FPA 1900]

Of course, even in less competitive times the interview panel still faced the age-old problem of putting names to faces after meeting applicants in person. King’s applications from the 1960s show that one such interviewer overcame this hurdle by sketching the faces of interviewees onto their forms for reference. Indeed, the pencil-sketch aide memoir seems to have become habitual for this interviewer as miniature portraits appear regularly on application forms from the early 1960s.

Grouped Portraits Cropped

Faces of hopefuls sketched onto application forms during interviews, early 1960s [KA/FPA 1960-1962]

Glasses

Glasses! [KA/FPA 1960-1962]

Very Brown Eyes

“Very brown eyes…green shirt and pullover” [KA/FPA 1960-1962]

For data protection reasons, only older personnel files are available for readers to view in the Archives Reading Room. Scholars researching Organisational History or the History of Human Resources Management will find them a potentially fruitful pathway into understanding the practicalities of the 20thC academic job hunt. For the rest of us, I would venture to say that there is something reassuring about continuities with applying for jobs, academic or otherwise, in the present day.

 

Mathematical Shakespeare

On 27 June 1854 when seventeen year old Alfred Ainger (1837-1904) picked up his prize for ‘proficiency in Mathematics’ from King’s College London, was he surprised to discover that it was a handsomely bound volume of the complete works of William Shakespeare edited by Charles Knight, complete with the college arms stamped in gold on its cover?  [tape was required eventually]

AA01bookplateAA00To me a connection between a mathematics prize and the complete works of Shakespeare is not obvious.

Was this prize selected with Ainger in mind or is it the default prize for any number of achievements, so that the prize reflects the enormous esteem in which the Victorians held Shakespeare?

And did this prize have a career-altering effect?  The following year, when he was 18, the Dictionary of National Biography reports of Alfred: ‘Devotion to Shakespeare manifested itself early and in 1855 he became the first president of the college’s Shakepeare Society’.

In fact, in later life it is his literary skills, not his mathematical ones, for which Ainger would be recognised. He went to King’s school with the sons of Charles Dickens and was taken up by the novelist for his skill in amateur dramatics.  He knew Tennyson, became a published authority on Charles Lamb, and, along with producing books, articles and lectures, became an Anglican preacher and chaplain both to Queen Victoria and subsequently to King Edward VII.

His prize Shakespeare volume is quite new to our collection (2016), but already the engravings by William Harvey have provided illustrations for an exhibition I was assembling in January from King’s College London Archives to commemorate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.

King’s has not been around yet quite 200 years, so the Archive might not expect to have much relevant to Shakespeare (1564-1616). Fortunately just over a century ago Fredrick Furnivall (1825-1910)  the prolific Victorian scholar, literary editor, lexicographer and rowing enthusiast donated to King’s, along with his impressive library, a collection of papers from the many societies he founded. The New Shakspere Society papers (Furnivall insisted on the variant spelling) proved a good source for Shakespeare in the archives at King’s, the frontispiece from Ainger’s Shakespeare providing the opening illustration.

AA_shrewEach play has a full-page illustration in the volume and it is intriguing to see how an entire play is squeezed into a single frame for such pieces as the Taming of the Shrew where the Sly framework literally frames an inner scene from the shrew taming when Kate and Petruchio encounter the tailor and haberdasher meant to provide her wardrobe.  The insanity of the comedy is conveyed visually by setting the inner frame at a dangerous angle.

AA_dreamThe four interwoven layers of A Midsummer Night’s Dream are stacked on top of each other with the young lovers at the bottom being awakened by hunters Theseus and Hippolyta in the middle of the image while Oberon and Titania and their flight of fairies crowd the upper region with Puck flying in from the left carrying the ass’s head taken from Bottom the Weaver.  The tone is as romantic as anyone could wish.

Reggie’s Honour

An article in the Daily Herald in which Mr J Dixon Taylor recalled Reggie’s appearance at the Lord Mayor’s Procession of 1931 when he inadvertently scared some elephants (see King’s Alumni Official History of Reggie the Lion), led to one of Reggie’s many outings. The show organiser mistakenly referred to Reggie as a ‘toy tiger’ and greatly offended King’s students of the time. On the 27 October 1938 the engineering and medical students gathered a large crowd, headed by Reggie, and marched on the Daily Herald’s office. The crowd was reportedly greeted by the paper’s editor, who promised that the complaint would be passed on to the gentleman responsible for the insult. Following the incident the students wrote that ‘Reggie is once more on his perch, once again his tail wags with all its old ferocity, yet once more he has risen triumphant overcoming all his foes!’

Reggie the Lion marching on the Daily Herald.

This outing was recorded in the scrapbooks of David Leete which are held at King’s College London Archives.

 

Linking Data in Sydney

 

By Geoff Browell, Head of Archives Services

I was fortunate to attend the biennial Linked Open Data,
Libraries, Archives, Museums summit in early July in Sydney, Australia. I
played a very small role in setting it up, as a member of the organising
committee. The conference is an opportunity for archivists, librarians, museum
curators and information professionals and IT experts to meet and discuss the
latest developments in Linked Data among higher education, heritage and
‘memory’ institutions, worldwide. Delegates have the chance to hear about
successful (and unsuccessful) projects and take part in targeted discussions on
the future of the technology, and encourage new collaborations. The event
features the ‘Challenge’ – an open competition for the best application of
Linked Data in a cultural setting.  The
summit adopts the ‘un-conference’ format without pre-prepared papers, at which
relevant issues can be aired and debated and sub-groups convened to address
specific topics.

View this graph of attendees: https://graphcommons.com/graphs/0f874303-97c2-4e53-abc6-83a13a1a2030

What is Linked Data?

Linked Data is a way of structuring online and other data to
improve its accuracy, visibility and connectedness. The technology has been
available for more than a decade and has mainly been used by commercial
entities such as publishing and media organisations including the BBC and
Reuters.  For archives, libraries and
museums, Linked Data holds the prospect of providing a richer experience for
users, better connectivity between pools of data, new ways of cataloguing
collections, and improved access for researchers and the public.

It could, for example, provide the means to unlock research
data or mix it with other types of data such as maps, or to search digitised
content including books and image files and collection metadata. New, more
robust, services are currently being developed by international initiatives
such as Europeana which should make its adoption by libraries and archives much
easier. There remain many challenges, however, and this conference provided the
opportunity to explore these.

The conference comprised a mix of quick fire discussions,
parallel breakout sessions, 2-minute introductions to interesting projects, and
the Challenge entries.

[photo: Work in progress at the LODLAM summit]

Quick fire points
from delegates

  • Need for improved visualisation of data (current
    visualisations are not scalable or require too much IT input for archivists and
    librarians to realistically use)
  • Need to build Linked Data creation and editing
    into vendor systems (the Step change model which we pursued at King’s Archives
    in a Jisc-funded project)
  • Exploring where text mining and Natural Language
    Processing overlap with LOD
  • World War One Linked Data: what next? (less of a
    theme this time around as the anniversary has already started)
  • LOD in archives: a particular challenge?
    (archives are lagging libraries and galleries in their implementation of Linked
    Data)
  • What is the next Getty vocabularies: a popular vocabulary
    that can encourage use of LOD?
  • Fedora 8 and LOD in similar open source or
    proprietary content management systems (how can Linked Data be used with these
    popular platforms?)
  • Linked Data is an off-putting term implying a
    data-centric set of skills (perhaps Linked Open Knowledge as an alternative?)
  • Building a directory of cultural heritage
    organisation LOD: how do we find available data sets? (such as Linked Open
    Vocabularies)
  • Implementing the European Data Model: next steps
    (stressing the importance of Europeana in the Linked Data landscape)
  • Can we connect different entities across
    different vocabularies to create new knowledge? (a lot of vocabularies have
    been created, but how do they communicate?)

 

Day One sessions

OASIS Deep Image
Indexing (
http://www.synaptica.com/oasis/).

This talk showcased a new product called OASIS from
Synaptica, aimed at art galleries, which facilitates the identification,
annotation and linking of parts of images. These elements can be linked
semantically and described using externally-managed vocabularies such as the
Getty suite of vocabularies or classifications like Iconclass. This helps
curators do their job. End users enjoy an enriched appreciation of paintings
and other art. It is the latest example of annotation services that overlay useful
information and utilise agreed international standards like the Open Annotation
Data Model and the IIIF standard for image zoom.

We were shown two examples: Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus
and Holbein’s The Ambassadors for impressive zooming of well-known paintings
and detailed descriptions of features. Future development will allow for
crowdsourcing to identify key elements and utilising image recognition software
to find these elements on the Web (‘find all examples of images of dogs in 16th
century public works of art embedded in the art but not indexed in available
metadata’).

This product mirrors the implementation of IIIF by an
international consortium that includes leading US universities, the Bodleian,
BL, Wellcome and others. Two services have evolved which offer archives the
chance to provide deep zoom and interoperability for their images for their
users: Mirador, and the Wellcome’s Universal Viewer (http://showcase.iiif.io/viewer/mirador/).
These get around the problem of having to create differently sized derivatives
of images for different uses, and of having to publish very large images on the
internet when download speeds might be slow.

Digital New Zealand

Chris McDowall of Digital New Zealand explored how best to
make LOD work for non-LOD people. Linked Open Data uses a lot of acronyms and
assumes a fairly high level of technical knowledge of systems which should not
be assumed. This is a particular bugbear of mine, which is why this talk
resonated. Chris’ advocacy of cross developer/user meetups also chimed with my
own thinking: LOD will never be properly adopted if it is assumed to be the
province of ‘techies’. Developers often don’t know what they are developing
because they don’t understand the content or its purpose: they are not
curators.

He stressed the importance of vocabulary cross-walks and the
need for good communication in organisations to make services stable and
sustainable. Again, this chimed with my own thinking: much work needs to be
done to ‘sell’ the benefits of Linked Data to sceptical senior management.
These benefits might include context building around archive collections,
gamification of data to encourage re-use, and serendipity searches and prompts
which can aid researchers. Linked Data offers the kind of truly targeted
searching in contrast to the ‘faith based technology’ of existing search
engines (a really memorable expression).

He warned that the infrastructure demands of LOD should not
be underestimated, particularly from researchers making a lot of simultaneous
queries: he mooted a pared down type of LOD for wider adoption.

Chris finished by highlighting a number of interesting use
cases of LOD in Libraries as part of the Linked Data for Libraries (LD4L) project,
a collaboration between Harvard, Cornell and Stanford (https://wiki.duraspace.org/pages/viewpage.action?pageId=41354028). See also
Richard Wallis’ presentation on the benefit of LO for libraries: http://swib.org/swib13/slides/wallis_swib13_108.pdf

Schema.org

Richard Wallis of OCLC explored the potential of Schema.org,
a growing vocabulary of high level terms agreed by the main search engines to
make content more searchable. Schema.org helps power search result boxes one
sees at the top of Google search return pages. Richard suggested the creation
of an extension relevant to archives to add to the one for bibliographic
material. The advantage of schema.org is that it can easily be added to web
pages, resulting in appreciable improvement in ranking and the possibility of
generating user-centred suggestions in search results. For an archive, this
might mean a Google user searches for the papers of Winston Churchill and is
offered suggested other uses such as booking tickets to a talk about the
papers, or viewing Google maps information showing the opening times and
location of the archive.

The group discussion centred on the potential elements (would
the extension refer to thesis, research data, university systems that contain
archive data such as Finance and student information?), and on the need for use
cases and setting out potential benefits. I agreed to be part of an
international team through the W3C Consortium, to help set one up.

[photo: Shakespeare window at the State Library of New South Wales]

Dork shorts/Speedos –
these are impromptu lightning talks lasting a few minutes, which highlight a
project, idea or proposal. View here:
http://summit2015.lodlam.net/about/speedos/

Highlights:

Cultuurlink (http://cultuurlink.beeldengeluid.nl/app/#/): Introduction by Johan Oomen

This Dutch service facilitates the linking of different
controlled vocabularies and thesauri and helps address the problem faced by
many cultural organisations ‘which thesauri do I use?’ and ‘how do I avoid
reinventing the thesauri wheel?’. The services allows users to upload a SKOS
vocabulary, link it with one of four supported vocabularies and visualise the
results.

The service helps different types of organisation to connect
their vocabularies, for example an audio-visual archive with a museum’s
collections. The approach also allows content from one repository to be
enhanced or deepened through contextual information from another. The example
of Vermeer’s Milkmaid was cited: enhancing the discoverability of information
on the painting held in the Rijksmuseum
in Amsterdam through connecting the collection data held on the local museum
management system with DBPedia and with the Getty Art and Architecture
Thesaurus. This sort of approach builds on the prototypes developed in the last
few years to align vocabularies (and to ‘Skosify’ data – turn it into Linked
Data) around shared Europeana initiatives (see http://semanticweb.cs.vu.nl/amalgame/).

Research Data
Services project: Introduction by Ingrid Mason

This is a pan-Australian research data management project
focusing on the repackaging of cultural heritage data for academic re-use.
Linked Data will be used to describe a ‘meta-collection’ of the country’s
cultural data, one that brings together academic users of data and curators. It
will utilise the Australia-wide research data nodes for high speed retrieval (https://www.rds.edu.au/project-overview
and http://www.intersect.org.au/).

Tim Sherratt on
historians using LOD

This fascinating short explained how historians have been
creating LOD for years – and haven’t even known they were doing it –
identifying links and narratives in text as part of the painstaking historical
process. How can Linked Data be used to mimic and speed up this historical
research process? Tim showed a working example and a step by step guide is
available: http://discontents.com.au/stories-for-machines-data-for-humans/
and listen to the talk: http://summit2015.lodlam.net/2015/07/10/lod-book/

Jon Voss on
historypin

Jon explained how the popular historical mapping service,
historypin, is dealing with the problem of ‘roundtripping’ where heritage data
is enhanced or augmented through crowdsourcing and returned to its source. This
is of particular interest to Europeana, whose data might pass through many
hands. It highlights a potential difficulty of LOD: validating the authenticity
and quality of data that has been distributed and enriched.

Chris McDowall of
Digital New Zealand

Chris explained how to search across different types of data
source in New Zealand, for example to match and search for people using
phonetic algorithms to generate sound alike suggestions and fuzzy name
matching: http://digitalnz.github.io/supplejack/.

Axes Project (http://www.axes-project.eu/): Introduction from Martijn Kleppe

This 6 million Euro EU-funded project aims to make
audio-visual material more accessible and has been trialled with thousands of
hours of video footage, and expert users, from the BBC. Its purpose is to help users
mine vast quantities of audio-visual material in the public domain as
accurately and quickly as possible. The team have developed tools using open
source frameworks that allow users to detect people, places, events and other
entities in speech and images and to annotate and refine these results. This
sophisticated tool set utilises face, speech and place recognition to zero-in
on precise fragments without the need for accompanying (longhand) metadata. The
results are undeniably impressive – with a speedy, clear, interface locating
the parts of each video with filtering and similarity options. The main use for
the toolset to date is with film studies and journalism students but it
unquestionably has wider application.

The Axes website also highlights a number of interesting
projects in this field. Two stand out: http://www.axes-project.eu/?page_id=25,
notably Cubrik (http://www.cubrikproject.eu/),
another FP 7 multinational project which mixes crowd and machine analysis to
refine and improving searching of multimedia assets; and the PATHS prototype (http://www.paths-project.eu/)  ‘an interactive personalised tour guide through
existing digital library collections. The system will offer suggestions about
items to look at and assist in their interpretation. Navigation will be based
around the metaphor of a path through the collection.’ The project created an
API, User Interface and launched a tested exemplar with Europeana to
demonstrate the potential of new discovery journeys to open access to
already-digitised collections.

Loom project (http://dxlab.sl.nsw.gov.au/making-loom/): Introduction from Paula Bray of State Library of New South Wales

The NSW State Library sought to find new ways of visualising
their collections by date and geography through their DX Labs, an experimental
data laboratory similar to BL Labs, which I have worked with in the UK. One
visually arresting visualisation shows the proportions of collections relevant
to particular geographical locations in the city of Sydney. Accompanied by
approving gasps from the audience, this showed an iceberg graphic superimposed
onto a map showing the proportion of collections about a place that had been
digitised and yet to be digitised – a striking way of communicating the
fragility of some collections and the work still to be done to make them
accessible to the public.

LODLAM challenge

19 entries were received: http://summit2015.lodlam.net/challenge/challenge-entries/

  1. Open Memory Project. This Italian entry
    won the main prize. It uses Linked Data to re-connect victims of the Holocaust
    in wartime Italy. The project was thought provoking and moving and has the
    potential to capture the public imagination.
  2. Polimedia is a service designed to
    answer questions from the media and journalists by querying multi-media
    libraries, identifying fragments of speech. It won second prize for its
    innovative solution to the challenge of searching video archives.
  3. LodView goes LAM is a new Italian
    software designed to make it easier for novices to publish data as Linked Data.
    A visually beautiful and engaging interface makes this a joy to look at.
  4. EEXCESS is a European project to
    augment books and other research and teaching materials with contextual
    information, and to develop sophisticated tools to measure usage. This is an
    exciting, ambitious, project to assemble different sources using Linked Data to
    enable a new kind of publication made up of a portfolio of assets.
  5. Preservation Planning Ontology is a
    proposal for using Linked Data in the planning of digital preservation by
    archives. It has been developed by Artefactual Systems, the Canadian company
    behind ATOM and Archivematica software. This made the shortlist as it is a good
    example of a ‘behind the scenes’ management use of Linked data to make
    preservation workflows easier.

A selection of other
entries:

Public Domain City
extracts curious images from digitised content. This is similar to BL Labs’
Mechanical Curator, a way of mining digitised books for interesting images and
making them available to social media to improve the profile and use of a
collection.

Project Mosul uses
Linked Data to digitally recreate damaged archaeological heritage from Iraq. A
good example of using this technology to protect and recreate heritage damaged
in conflict and disaster.

The Muninn Project
combines 3D visualisations and printing using Linked Data taken from First
World War source material.

LOD Stories is a
way of creating story maps between different pots of data about art and
visualising the results. The project is a good example of the need to make
Linked Data more appealing and useful, in this case by building ‘family trees’
of information about subjects to create picture narratives.

Get your coins out of
your pocket
is a Linked Data engine about Roman coinage and the stories it
has to tell – geographically and temporally. The project uses nodegoat as an
engine for volunteers to map useful information: http://nodegoat.net/.

Graphity is a
Danish project to improve access to historical Danish digitised newspapers and
enhancing with maps and other content using Linked Data.

Dutch Ships and
Sailors
brings together multiple historical data sources and uses Linked
Data to make them searchable.

Corbicula is a way
of automating the extraction of data from collection management systems and
publishing it as Linked Data.

[photo: delegates at the summit]

Day two sessions

Day two sessions focused on the future. A key session led by
Richard Wallis explained how Google is moving from a page ranking approach to a
triple confidence assertion approach to generating search results. The way in
which Google generates its results will therefore move closer to the LOD method
of attributing significance to results.

Highlights

  • Need for a vendor manifesto to encourage systems
    vendors such as Ex Libris, to build LOD into their systems (Corey Harper of New
    York University proposed this and is working closely with Ex Libris to bring
    this about)
  • Depositing APIs/documentation for maximum re-use
    (APIs are often a weak link – adoption of LOD won’t happen if services break or
    are unreliable)
  • Uses identified (mining digitised newspaper
    archives was cited)
  • Potential piggy-backing from Big Pharma
    investment in Big Data (massive investment by drugs companies to crunch huge
    quantities of data – how far can the heritage sector utilise even a fraction of
    that?)
  • Need to validate LOD: the quality issue – need
    for an assertion testing service (LOD won’t be used if its quality is
    questionable. Do curators (traditional guardians of quality) manage this?)
  • Training in Linked Data needs to be addressed
  • Need to encourage fundraising and make LO
    sustainable: what are we going to do with LOD in the next ten years? (Will the
    test of the success of Linked Open Data be if the term drops out of use when we
    are all doing it without noticing? Will 5 Star Linked Data be realised? http://5stardata.info/)

Summary

There were several key learning points from this conference:

  • The divide between technical experts and policy
    and decision makers remains significant: more work is needed to provide use
    cases and examples of improved efficiencies or innovative public engagement
    opportunities that the technology provides
  • The re-use and publication of Linked Data is
    becoming important and this brings challenges in terms of IPR, reliability of
    APIs and quality of data
  • Easy to use tools and widgets will help spread
    its use; avoiding complicated and unsustainable technical solutions that depend
    on project funding
  • Working with vendors to incorporate Linked Data
    tools in library and archive systems will speed its adoption
  • The Linked Data community ought to work towards
    the day Linked Data is business as usual and the terms goes out of use

Who is this man?

Last week a member of the Faculty of Natural and
Mathematical Sciences brought in a very large, old, framed photograph which had
been hanging in the Physics Department for many years. Sadly, no one in the Department knew who it
was of but they felt it might be of interest to us here in the Archives.

My difficultly was trying to identify the young man in the
portrait.  Judging by his clothes, his
moustache and his hairstyle, I estimated that the picture was probably taken
around 1900-1910.  It was a large
photograph in a very fancy frame so he must have been important.  So, who was he?

Well, I believe it is an early photograph of Charles Glover
Barkla who was appointed to the Chair of Physics in 1909.  He remained at King’s for four years during
which time he published extensively on his research into x-rays. Barkla then
moved to Edinburgh and in 1917 he was awarded a Nobel Prize for this work.

Here is a later photograph of Barkla for comparison:

[By George Grantham Bain Collection (Library of Congress)
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons]

Am I right, have we found a photograph of
Charles Barkla in his 20s?

by Frances Pattman, Archives Services Officer

The marriage of Philmer Eves

In 1847, Philmer Eves was appointed as a Porter to King’s College London. In the letter above, written in May 1848, he asked if he could have a small advance on his wages in order to move from the College Lodge, run by the Gatekeeper, James Nightingale, and his wife, Kezia, into a privately rented unfurnished, presumably cheaper, room elsewhere. He planned to get married and wished to free up a little money to buy things necessary for the wedding and the start of married life. A note was made to the effect that the matter was deferred until October for reconsideration which may have scuppered his plans.

However, according to the parish records held at the London Metropolitan Archives, Philmer Eves married Elizabeth Wood on 10 September 1848 in St Pancras Church. In the 1851 census, they were living in Brydges (now Catherine) Street, near the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and he was still working as a Porter at King’s. By 1861, Philmer and his wife had moved to Cheshire where they stayed until his death in 1876. It is nice to see that despite the lack of assistance from the College he was still able to get married and kept working at King’s.

Philmer Eves’ letter comes from a large collection of letters and documents sent to the Secretary of King’s College London which date from the foundation of the College in 1829 through to the late 19th and early 20th century. A detailed catalogue of the collection is currently being prepared and will be made available on our catalogue website very soon.

The penmanship of William Allsup

The correspondence files at King’s College London contain a
really splendid example of late Georgian penmanship. It is a letter to the
Marquis of Salisbury dated 24 October 1832 in which William Allsup asks the
marquis to write a letter of reference on his behalf to the Bishop of London
who is a member of King’s College council. Allsup was seeking (and got) a position at the recently opened King’s
College London as a ‘writing and arithmetical master’.

Ideally, such a letter should show off the applicant’s
handwriting to best advantage and this example does not fail. The salutation of the letter, ‘My Lord…’ is a
delight whose initial great swirl reveals a careful pattern by which it appears
not to be solid, but interrupted.

I happened across this letter while looking for another
early letter concerning the location of King’s.

A few years after his application, Allsup produced a
memorial to the foundation of King’s College London written in a number of
scripts and colours, even. His care over
penmanship is again splendidly evident.  

I have taken the image from our online
exhibition In the Beginning explaining the foundation of King’s College London.