Early Modern Maritime Gazetteer

Home Page Forums Announcements List Early Modern Maritime Gazetteer

This topic contains 17 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Colin Greenstreet chronoscopiceducation 1 year, 1 month ago.

  • Author
  • #3351

    The MarineLives project team is interested in exploring the creation of Early Modern Maritime Gazetteer. We would like to know what Pelagios community members and Recogito users think

    Focus initially on English High Court of Admiralty geographic data [which covers coastal areas of England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and continental Europe (including southern and eastern Mediterranean); Caribbean; eastern coast of continental North America; Dutch and Portuguese Brazil; limited East India data
    – CC BY 3.0
    – Made available to Recogito users
    – Include use of facilitated crowdsourcing
    – Include identifying technical resource to assist in conceptual design
    For more information on MarineLives see: http://Marinelives.org

  • #3355
    Profile photo of Rainer Simon
    Rainer Simon

    Regarding the techical side: I’m CC-ing @kgeographer. Karl is working on gazetteer models as part of the Pittsburgh World Historical Gazetter project & we’re coordinating our work with his through the Linked Pasts WG.

    Beyond your particular scope, the topic of “How do I bootstrap a new digital/Linked Data gazetter” should also be highly relevant to many on this list. (Although the real key question is usually sustainability… in your case MarineLives will already provide a suitable framework I believe?)


    • This reply was modified 1 year, 1 month ago by Profile photo of Rainer Simon Rainer Simon.
  • #3358
    Profile photo of Richard Nevell

    That sounds like a really useful resource. With the gazetteer include written descriptions as well as data? A CC-BY licence is excellent, but I’m going to be cheeky and ask if some part of the data (like coordinates) could use a CC0 licence? That way parts of the gazetteer would be compatible with Wikidata. The Atlas of Hillforts project by the universities of Edinburgh and Oxford used a similar approach. Their atlas contains written descriptions which are under a CC-BY-SA licence, but some of the data has been ported over to Wikidata which allows for some useful visualisations and (more importantly) to tap into Wikipedia’s audience.

  • #3359

    Licensing terms definitely up for discussion. Can you tell us a bit more how you would see an EEMG interacting with Wikidata?

  • #3360

    For a flavour of the sort of geographic data and terms we have within the MarineLives corpus (without geotagging, and without the creation or use of a gazetteer), and also for examples of semantic linked open data, see:

    Semantic biographies

    Semantic occupations

    Semantic parishes


    For a sample of our Dutch data in the English High Court of Admiralty depositions:

    For an example of the range of residences of deponents in a single book of High Court of Admiralty depositions: http://www.marinelives.org/wiki/HCA_13/71_Deponents_-_By_Geography

    For a basic (not fully scoped) glossary of geographical terms in the MarineLives corpus: http://www.marinelives.org/wiki/Tools:_Geographical_glossary

  • #3362
    Profile photo of Karl Grossner
    Karl Grossner

    This sounds like a valuable addition to the growing linked geodata ecosystem!

    As Rainer has said, it has become an increasingly urgent (common?) use case for many small- to medium-sized historical research projects to publish gazetteer datasets they generate, aligning place records with authorities where possible, and adding those that don’t appear in authorities to the “commons.” Larger projects, like Cultures of Knowledge, Trismegistos, Pleiades, etc. can stand up permanent repositories, with web GUIs and APIs but that is beyond the reach of many. In order to have Pelagios/Peripleo and/or World-Historical Gazetteer (WHG) index these data, there needs to be a “permanently” accessible URI for each entity.

    The WHG team is considering developing a “PGIF-to-LOD publication” pipeline app. It would (I think) push place records in the Pelagios Gazetteer Interconnection Format (new version is a work-in-progress) to a project folder in a GitHub repo (or similar), minting a purl on the way. The first task would be spec’ing it from real use scenarios. This is not at the top of my TODO list right now, but we can begin spec’ing it conceptually as a start if there’s an interest.

  • #3363

    Very interesting comments from @kgeographer.

    In the context of Karl’s article on “Orbis-in-a-box”, published March 26, 2018: http://kgeographer.com/orbis-in-a-box/, it is worth emphasising the considerable potential for combining an EMMG with route and voyage data. Manual extraction of voyage data from English High Court of Admiralty data has yielded some simple visualisations. We have a large spreadsheet with point to point travel by ships for 1650s, based on manual extraction of data from MarineLives corpus two years ago, which includes travel time between ports and dwell times at ports, allowing study of travel time, dwell time, and variance in travel and dwell time, as well as frequency of route choice and variance in route choice. Very happy to make this spread sheet available to any Pelagios community member, who is interested.

    • #3365
      Profile photo of Karl Grossner
      Karl Grossner

      Apart from the issues of publication and licenses referenced above (and Orbis-in-a Box), the EMMG data is of great interest to the World-Historical Gazetteer project. Just as Pelagios/Peripleo does, we will index gazetteer datasets, large and small, but our work differs in a few respects. One is a focus on connection between places. Like Peripleo, we will also index contributed annotations, but while Peripleo has focused so far on annotated records of coins, hoards, and epigraphy of ancient periods, we will solicit contributions of annotations linking data about routes and actual journey events (commercial, exploration, pilgrimage, etc.) with indexed places — and extending more explicitly into the modern era.

      We (WHG) have begun conceptualizing a demonstration or pilot involving datasets related to the Atlantic slave trade, and have a few data partners lined up already; their material concerns South America and West Africa. A meeting in early May will clarify this picture. I’ll be very interested to look at the EMMG data and (in time) help to get it into the new version interconnection format mentioned above. Naturally, all the presentation of linked data we do will serve to expose it to a wider audience, facilitate its reuse, and direct users to the full data records held at their source projects.

  • #3366

    Again, very interesting comments from  @kgeographer.

    EM me your contact details [I am at colin[dot]greenstreet@gmail[dot]com] and I will send you the Excel spreadsheet of the data I have mentioned above. We would love to start visualising these data and would, as always, make our data available to the commons on a CC BY 3.0 basis.

    I will also send you a background EM on MarineLives, Chronoscopic Education, and the new community we are developing called Signs of Literacy The new technology enabled community is for the study of historical literacy, using close reading combined with pattern recognition & machine learning applied to large scale data sets. The data will have strong maritime/coastal character.  I am driving the technology and community development side for Signs of Literacy, with social historian Dr Mark Hailwood (Bristol) contributing expertise on historical literacy. We plan in 2019 to make one or more grant bids, potentially in collaboration with one or more partners we are in the process of identifying in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany/Austria, and the United States.

    Will you be at the IIIF Conference in Washington DC, May 21-25, 2018. I will be giving a paper on ‘Creating an IIIF/Transkribus enabled manuscript community to explore C17th literacy’. The abstract is as below:

  • #3367

    We have two ship databases containing geographical data capable of being mapped and accessed via an Early Modern Maritime Gazetteer, should such a gazetteer be developed.

    MarineLives C17th ship economics database

    This larger database is is our MarineLives C17th ship economics database, and was constructed in 2H 2017 to model C17th commercial ship economics. Only ships with data of their burthen or tonnage qualify for entry into this database, since this is key to subsequent analysis of their commercial economics.

    Geographical data include:

    • Home port of ship
    • Port where ship built
    • Port where ship bought
    • Route details [Port of origin; ports stopped at en route; port of discharge]

    Marinelives C17th voyage database

    The MarineLives C17th ship economics database does NOT contain dates of departure; dates of en route port arrivals & departures; date of arrival in port of discharge; date of completion of final discharge.

    These data are contained in a smaller database Marinelives C17th voyage database prepared in late 2016 and early 2016, using event data manually extracted from a smaller MarineLives corpus of High Court of Admiralty depositions.

    Further work would be required to:

    • expand this smaller database to include the whole current MarineLives corpus
    • link some of the ships in the second database to some of the ships in the first database
  • #3368
    Profile photo of Amalia Skarlatou Levi

    Would be very interested to see a gazetteer that would link the Marine Lives data with geographic points in the Atlantic World.

    (I didn’t know of the Pittsburgh World Historical Gazetteer project–looking forward to learning more about it!)

    An Early Modern Maritime Gazetteer would be of great use for helping annotate a number of resources:

    • “ship protests” (accounts by captains of sea voyages; not yet digitized; subject to future grant)
    • contemporary newspapers (e.g., the Barbados Mercury; under digitization)
    • travelogues in HathiTrust (full-text available)

    (Specifically early modern newspapers, though not from the 17th, but from the 1740s on, are replete with news of ships arriving to or leaving from the island).

    I’m also very interested in the gazetteer’s potential with datasets related to the slave trade.

  • #3374

    The scope of the proposed Early Modern Maritime Gazetteer remains open, and we are keen to spend time soliciting input from a wide range of potential users. We would be open to form an advisory group, consisting of potential users, from both the content and the technical perspective.

    We do not anticipate any content or technical work prior to October 2018, or January 2019, and wish to use the next eight to nine months to promote discussion and work on potential project structure and high level conceptual design.

    We would also wish to seek funding to develop this tool, with the funding being shared between us and any partners who might be involved. But emphasise that we do not see this as a big spending project.

    Proposed design principles

    From a conceptual (and technical) design point of view we would like to propose some principles:

    (1) Minimise cost of creation (both content and technical)

    (2) Minimise cost of ongoing support

    (3) Maximise flexibility, through modular conception of content

    (4) Embed ownership and use of the Early Modern Maritime Gazetteer from conceptual design stage onwards

    Possible project staging

    • Pre-commitment to developing EMMG is the current stage of soliciting input from a wide range of potential users
    • Stage zero could be conceptual design in terms of content and technology standards.
    • Stage one could be place names (with place name variants) and associated geo-references
    • Stage two could be addition of text descriptions and links to IIIF images of places [drawing on some of our thinking about a geographical glossary]
    • Stage three could be an unknown set of content at some time in the future


    As a general point, our view of digital tools is that there are actually too many, and most will fade away once project funding has ceased, or the individual or team originating the tool has moved on mentally and physically to other things. We want to avoid the proposed Early Modern Maritime Gazetteer experiencing this lifecycle.

    MarineLives, as a project and as a community, is now six years old, and we are in the process of establishing a charitable incorporated organisation, Chronoscopic Education, which will be its legal, funding and technology home. We are also seeking to establish archival and technology partnerships, and are seeking to learn from how the IIIF consortium are embedding use into standards and specific tools, as well as creating a community of users.

    You can sample our active community by engaging with us through our Twitter account, which very active and which actively promotes content sharing and discussion.

  • #3376
    Profile photo of Rombert Stapel

    In February we started a small pilot project at the International Institute of Social History in Amsterdam which aims to create LOD gazetteers of the Early Modern Americas, and also builds on geographic databases from transatlantic shipping. It is too early to show you some results (the project runs until early 2019), but I guess our efforts will be of interest to you. I would gladly stay in contact.

    A (very brief) description of the pilot project can be found here: https://www.clariah.nl/projecten/research-pilots/opengazam/opengazam.

    • #3380
      Profile photo of Rombert Stapel

      Dear Colin,
      The IISH is one of the organisers of DH Benelux 2018, so I will be around. By that time we will have made some progress as well.

      All the best,

  • #3381

    Discovery versus delivery

    An amusing, and oh so true, article by an experienced product developer, Hope Gurion (a great name for someone who makes her living by shaping products and services for West Coast firms). The gist of the argument – deferred pleasure gets better results, so take time to think about how to produce and anchor something of value. This is what lies behind my proposal for an eight to nine month period soliciting input from a wide range of potential users of an Early Modern Maritime Gazetteer.


  • #3382

    Example of what can be done with merchant ship route mapping and port mapping:

    Source: Craig Lambert, Gary Baker, ‘The Merchant Fleet of Late Medieval and Tudor England, 1400-1580’, web resource, 2018, supported by AHRC

    Routes map: http://www.medievalandtudorships.org/search_map/

    Ports map: http://www.medievalandtudorships.org/search_ports/

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.