Overcoming Obstacles Lecture Series 2024

Tools of Knowledge: Revitalising a Legacy Database of Scientific Instrument Makers

11:00 - 12:00
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin, Germany

This talk presents some reflections on the UK Arts & Humanities Research Council funded project, “Tools of Knowledge,” which has remodeled a legacy database of scientific instrument makers in the UK and Ireland from 1550–1914 as a semantic database (i.e., one structured to create relationships and reveal implicit meaning within data). An introduction to the new database will be followed by a discussion of the ways in which the project experimented with data visualization and linking to additional sources about instruments to represent their individual "lives," or itineraries. Some lessons learned will be shared, including issues common to other digital humanities projects related to labor and credit. Consideration will also be given to possible audiences and to the potential for public engagement around the project’s work.

Dr. Rebekah Higgitt is a historian of science and Principal Curator of Science at National Museums Scotland. She has been a senior lecturer at the University of Kent and Curator of Science at the Royal Museums Greenwich.

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