Preview: Repositories for OA, RDM and beyond

With just a few days to go until we see you all in Edinburgh we are delighted to bring you this guest post and podcast from Frank Steiner and Rory McNicholl both from ULCC, one of our lovely sponsors this year. 

In the run up to this year’s Repository Fringe event I sat down with Rory McNicholl, Lead Developer at ULCC to find out more about the event and his talk “Repositories for OA, RDM and beyond”.

Hopefully this quick whistle-stop tour of Rory’s repository experience, some of the projects he and the team have worked on and a preview of things to come makes for a nice little for his talk on Monday morning.

We look forward seeing you in Edinburgh next week.

Frank Steiner, Marketing Manager, ULCC

Upcoming Local History Event: Tales from the Tweed

News reaches us of a local history event that we think AddressingHistory users/blog readers, particularly those in the Borders, may be interested in. This guest post from Heather Rea, Edinburgh Beltane Network, explains the project and event Tales from the River Tweed: 

One intrepid family are about to begin a 97 mile storytelling trek along the River Tweed. Equipped with walking boots, waterproofs and a ukulele, Ross Winter and Sophia Collins, and 6 week old baby Taliesin, will walk from one end of the Tweed to the other this September. It’s all part of a project to celebrate the River Tweed, its landscape and its stories.

People on the Banks of the Tweed by Flickr User Bods / Andrew Bowden

People on the Banks of the Tweed by Flickr User Bods / Andrew Bowden

The family will stop at various places along the way and put on events – in village halls, pubs, museums and schools. Each event will feature traditional storytelling and talks from Tweed experts, followed by a ‘story sharing’ session where members of the audience can tell their own tales about the river. “Scotland is world-famous for its natural landscape, and also for its story-telling tradition, so it seemed to make sense to bring them together.”, says Sophia.

“This is the first project of its type in the world and we’re delighted that the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland have been forward-thinking enough to fund it.”

“I like the idea that the river has seen so much history and has always been a place that people are drawn to, a thing that connects people together” says Ross. One way that they’ll be ‘connecting people’ will be through their website which will include photos, drawings, journals and audio recordings of stories they have collected as they walk along the river, and from the people they meet. Sophia says:

We’re like wandering medieval bards, but with laptops, iPhones and sound recorders.

Find out when and where the events will be and follow their journey on the Tales from the Tweed Blog:

You can also view a Preview here:

Click here to view the embedded video.

If you have tales from the River Tweed to share please do get in touch with Sophia, Ross and Taliesin would love to hear from you and to welcome you along to the events they are planning. Contact details are on the website and Sophia can be contacted via

Guest Blog Post: Whose Town? a heritage project for schools

This week we have a guest post about the Whose Town? Project from Clare Padgett, Library Services Officer at Edinburgh City Libraries and part of the Whose Town? team. We bumped into her at the Scottish Association of Family History Societies Conference and she kindly offered to let AddressingHistory blog readers know more about this new resource about Edinburgh’s past.

School pupils across Edinburgh are getting to grips with an award-winning new digital teaching resource which uses real life case studies to illustrate key periods of history.

Whose Town? is an award-winning and innovative resource for teaching Social Studies developed by Edinburgh City Libraries. The resource is aimed at pupils aged between 8 and 13 and is linked to the Curriculum for Excellence, second, third and fourth levels. It is available on Glow, the Scottish schools’ intranet and on free CD.

Whose Town? looks at Edinburgh’s past from the 1850s to the 1950s through the eyes of people who lived there. There are 14 lives to discover who lived in Victorian times, at the beginning of the twentieth century, during the Second World War and in the Fifties. Archival material is collected in a digital box and hidden in an attic for pupils to uncover and examine. Each life is captured at a particular point in history, creating a snapshot of their life: a Life in a Box.

Pupils can discover what life was like for Levi, a destitute and orphaned boy in late Victorian Edinburgh, or how nine year old Bessie became the youngest Suffragette. They will uncover Luca’s story as he established an ice cream business in Musselburgh, or learn from John what it was like to grow up in wartime Edinburgh. They can hear a first hand account from Hugh of working on Edinburgh’s trams in the Fifties or the early days of television from Bill.

Edinburgh City Libraries worked closely with the volunteer contributors. Many of the participants who appear as ‘lives’ within the resource generously gave their time, memories and personal archives for inclusion in Whose Town? Nancy Comber (Pugh), who was an evacuee during the Second World War said:

“I really enjoyed being part of this project – it’s a brilliant idea and I’m sure the children will get a lot out of it. The fact that they’re looking into the lives of real people – some of whom, like me, are still alive – should help to make it much more interesting. It makes it like a kind of living history, which is possibly easier to relate to than just reading a book about someone’s life.”

Whose Town? is a Heritage Lottery Funded project. It has been developed by Edinburgh City Libraries in collaboration with Edinburgh Museums and Galleries and Edinburgh City Archives, and has been supported by many partner organisations.

To find out more, visit Whose Town? or contact the Information and Digital Team at Central Library on 0131 242 8047.


Guest Blog Post: SPIRES Network Technological Spaces Event

We have a short guest blog post this week from Mòrag Burgon-Lyon of SPIRES who have an event coming up in October that should be of interest to those using AddressingHistory.

SPIRES is a network for researchers, young, old and somewhere in between, in academia, industry and leisure.  They run seminars and workshops, provide travel funding for these and other events, promote discussion and generally support members in any way they can. Anyone can join SPIRES (it’s free!) and you can find out more about how to do this on their about page.

The SPIRES (Supporting People who Investigate Research Environments and Spaces) network would like to invite some leisure researchers to join our next workshop on Technological Spaces at City University, London on 7th October.  We aim to get people together from academia, industry and leisure research for networking, and to better understand the physical, social and digital environments in which research is conducted.

The day will comprise short talks of around 15 minutes on various topics, discussion sessions and group activities.  Confirmed talks include a digital curator from the British Library about the Growing Knowledge exhibition and some academic projects on digital tools including SerenA (a Serendipity Arena) and Brain (Building Research and Innovation Networks).  More talks are in the pipeline from academic and industry speakers.

If you would like to present a short talk about your research, and the tools (digital and otherwise) you use, we would love to hear from you!  If you would rather not present a talk, but would still like to attend the workshop, or just join the SPIRES network (it is free, and there are lots of benefits) please get in touch.  Assistance with travel costs is available for workshop attendees, (though please check with me before booking travel) and lunch will be provided.  Contact @SPIRES13 on Twitter, or email  Further information is also available on our website

Guest Post: Census 2011

Today is UK Census day and to celebrate – and encourage any last minute form filling in – we have asked James Crone, of the UK Borders service (more on which later in this post) to tell us a bit more about the Census and why it creates such a valuable legacy for future genealogical researchers.

Scottish Census Logo

There has been a census held in the UK every 10 years since 1801 with the exception of 1941 during which the country was preoccupied fighting the second world war. The idea is to capture a snapshot in time so Census Day, which is Sunday 27th March 2011 this year, is the day on which this snapshot is based – even if you complete the census before or after this date you should fill in the form as it would be on this day. Historically Census volunteers would visit households on the day to complete the forms but this year households can, for the first time, fill out their forms online (if you haven’t filled out your form yet click the links for the Scottish Census or the England, Wales & Northern Irish Census).

England, Wales and Northern Ireland Census LogoThe tagline of the 2011 UK Census is “help tomorrow take shape”. Readers of the AddressingHistory blog will no doubt be aware of the value of the data to family and local historians since each census captures the names, relationships, and professions of those living at every address in the UK – a hugely rich resource when combined with birth, marriage, and death certificates, yearly Post Office Directories (like those in AddressingHistory), letters, pictures, etc.

Detailed Census data is only released for public use 100 years after it’s collection (for privacy reasons) which makes 2011 both Census year and, in April, the first opportunity for genealogists and historians to see the 1911 Census in detail. However data collected as part of the census has a wide variety of uses as soon as it is collected, these include:

  • An accurate population count helps the government to calculate the grants it allocates to local authorities and health authorities (some examples of how statistics indicate areas of need are highlighted in the recent This is Britain with Andrew Marr programme on the Census).
  • Data collected and analysed about the age, social and economic make up of the population, and on general health and long-term illness, enables the government and local authorities to plan and fund health and social services.
  • Information about housing and its occupants indicates where accommodation is inadequate and helps in planning new housing.
  • Knowing how many people work in different occupations helps government, local authorities and businesses to plan jobs and training policies.
  • Information about travel to and from work and car ownership highlights the pressures on transport systems and how road and public transport could be improved to meet local needs.
  • Information about ethnic groups helps central and local government to plan and fund programmes to meet the needs of  minority groups.
  • Population statistics enable licensed census distributors to create business planning software products.
  • Census statistics help research organizations to decide how, when and where to capture representative samples.
  • Population statistics help businesses to decide where to locate or expand their premises to reflect local demand and the available workforce.

Within the UK researchers and students are able to access the outputs derived from the census through the ESRC Census Programme and Census data and here at EDINA we run the UKBORDERS service which provides access to digital boundaries which represent the geography of the census.

Students and researchers use data from the ESRC Census Programme to support a wide range of academic research. Recently a researcher from Bangor University mapped data from the 1991 and 2001 censuses in order to understand the geographic distribution of welsh speakers in north wales. Using this data the researcher was able to explore where the welsh language was thriving or in decline and understand how this pattern has changed over time.

A great deal of information about the 2011 census is available from dedicated sites run by the Office for National Statistics and the General Register Office for Scotland.

Image from the Census-Man Online Game

Someone to keep an eye out for in the run up to March 27th is Census Man! You can even play a special Census Man Game (it’s not giving too much away to say that completing and posting your form successfully will lead to bonus points!)