Digital history matt thompsonPresentation Transcript
‘… from which to taste a vicarious holiday’: Railway marketing, digital history and collaboration. Matt Thompson, University of York
The Project Picturing the Tourist Utopia of the Great Western Railway , 1897 - 1947
Funded through the AHRC Beyond Text programme
Three year doctoral project
University of York (IRS&TH)
National Railway Museum (non-academic partner)
30,000+ images (original negatives) at NRM
Staff magazine 1890s – 1947 at NRM
Comprehensive collection of guidebooks, pamphlets and posters at NRM
Lack of sources- very little documentary evidence at NRM/TNA… a case of ‘intention retrieval’!
Lots of books- but mainly ‘enthusiast’ literature
Marketing: an import from the US?
Present in railway marketing pre 1914
Landscape imagery key to the marketing strategies of the railways
Railway companies were ‘ were quick to perceive the possibilities of the pictures as an advertising asset’
The ‘citizen geographer’
Continuity and change in the types of landscapes pictured by GWR over 50 year period.
Context of production
Changes in the GWR’s tourist utopia Below: pre 1914- sublime landscapes, typically unpopulated. The Cheeswring from 1904 edition of Cornish Riviera. Above: Newquay from 1935 edition of Holiday Haunts, landscapes of activity filled with tourists.
Museums and digital technology
‘ Make more stuff available to more people’
Public accessibility projects attracted funding and staff resources
The academic researcher is an audience too!
Agency and the context of production
30,000+ images- not ALL were published
Able to compare images of a location, taken at the same time, which were NOT chosen for publication
Images have associated geographical qualities
Assign each image a lat/long reference
Map the images
Patterns and trends through time
Relationships with changing corporate ‘territories’
Moving beyond the museum
Commercial Cultures project
2 x PhD, 1 x post-doc, museum exhibitions, monograph
Allowing access to the collections beyond the museum walls
A mobility collection that can be engaged with while mobile
Digital Humanities Troubles related deaths in Belfast, 1968-2001. (a) Protestant civilians killed by Republicans and (b) Catholic civilians killed by Loyalists
Converting a text to a GIS
… off I sallied - over the Bridge, thro' the Hop-Field, thro' the <pl_name visited="Y"> Prospect Bridge </pl_name> at <pl_name visited="Y"> Portinscale </pl_name> , so on by the tall Birch that grows out of the centre of the huge Oak, along into <pl_name visited="Y"> Newlands </pl_name> -- <pl_name visited="Y"> Newlands </pl_name> is indeed a lovely place…
(Source: S.T. Coleridge’s tour of the
Lake District, August 1802)
‘ Close Reading’ with Google Earth
Thinking more about meta data associated with sources not just the content of the source itself
Has it moved?
How can this be pictured?
Engagement with wider audiences- both academic and museum