Interdisciplinarity, Collaboration, and Digital Humanities: the Emma B Andrews Diary Project Update

Submitted by Bret Windhauser on

The Emma B. Andrews Diary Project - Interdisciplinarity, Collaboration, and Digital Humanities

      The Emma B. Andrews Diary Project began in 2011 as an effort by NELC's Dr. Sarah. Ketchley to transcribe the unpublished travel journals kept by the mistress of an early excavator in Egypt's Valley of the Kings. Mrs. Emma B. Andrews' writings are a unique record of the early history of Egyptology, Nile travel, tourism and society in turn of the century Egypt.
      Over the course of 8 years, project work has evolved to include text encoding, mapping, and data visualization under the umbrella of Newbook Digital Texts, a thriving digital humanities publishing house co-founded by Ketchley, Professor Walter Andrews and Dr. Mary Childs. Newbook offers internships in digital humanities to University of Washington undergraduates and graduates. To date, over 170 students from more than 35 departments have worked on projects ranging from Ottoman and Georgian poetry to nineteenth-century travel journals and letters from Iraq and Egypt.
      This academic year, a talented cohort of graduate students from multiple departments have put their skills to good use in various aspects of the Emma B. Andrews Diary Project.

Emma B. Andrews Diary Project Website Redesign

Sample Item Relations for Howard Carter, excavator of Tutankhamun's tomb

MLIS Capstone students Erika Bailey and Riko Fluchel redeveloped the website design and metadata infrastructure. Erika focused on customizing the Omeka content management system's theme, while Riko developed an Item Relations framework to assign dates to individuals mentioned in the Andrews diaries. This enhanced metadata will enable researchers to search by person and date.

D3 Data Visualization

Hannah Twigg-Smith, Benjamin Ferleger, Katina Papadakis and Yu-Tang Peng, CSE 512 Data Visualization Capstone students created an interactive D3 data visualization mapping diary entries, locations, and people to answer the question 'who was where when?'

Historical Markup Tool Screenshot from Website

As part of her Master's Thesis in Computational Linguistics, Audrey Holmes built a Historical Markup Tool which accepts raw text as input and generates TEI (Text Encoding Initiative) output with named entity labels and references for disambiguation.  This enables researchers to easily generate machine-readable versions of plain text files.

19th century letter written by Mrs. Helen Winlock
Stereoscope photograph of Karnak temple, 1900

The Project's undergraduate interns have focused primarily on transcription and biographies this year. Connor Raftery (Senior, History) and Calvin Scott Paulson (Junior, History) have worked with an unpublished archive of letters written by the wife of the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Egyptian Expedition in Luxor in the early 1900s.  They have become experts in deciphering often challenging handwritten material! Aly Brady (Senior, Journalism) and Kanishka Reddy (Lakeside High School) have contributed extensively to our biographical database. 

Student work has been exemplary, highlighting the many benefits of interdisciplinary collaboration which can often take research in unexpected and intriguing directions. Special thanks are due to Anneliese Dehner for generously sharing her Omeka expertise, to Joseph Easterly, Lucy Harper and Marjorie Searl of Rochester’s Sibley Watson Digital Archive for offering advice on TEI, Omeka and project workflow and Elisa Beshero-Bondar, director of the Digital Mitford project, for offering TEI markup guidance and for sharing the project’s working files with us.

Looking ahead, the focus for 2019-2020 will be to transfer completed transcriptions, images, and biographies to the project's database for publication online.  Interested in joining the team? Prospective student interns are welcome to contact Dr. Ketchley to discuss opportunities. Interested in contributing to our work? You can make a donation here.