Research IT Breathe New Life into Mary Hamilton Papers

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Researchers in English Linguistics from the School of Arts, Languages and Culture were keen to enhance an existing project website, which allows visitors to view scans and transcriptions of historic documents from the John Rylands collection. A series of enquiries eventually lead them to the Research Software Engineers in Research IT.

The website focused on correspondence and diaries of Mary Hamilton, a courtier and diarist who mixed in royal, aristocratic, literary and artistic circles in late eighteenth-century London.  John Rylands holds a collection of her correspondence which provides great insights into the day-to-day life of the royal household and of the artistic and social elites during a period of rapid change in the nation’s political, economic and cultural life.

Focusing on this collection, the Image to Text project seeks to provide detailed transcriptions, including corrected and modified language, for historic documents. The original letter presentation code was created in 2014, by a research assistant who subsequently left the project; a familiar story for many research units. The original site looked a little dated, was not responsive to different devices, and was lacking a couple of features that the unit wanted to add.

The project has very limited resources, but by working closely with the researchers to identify quick wins, Research IT have improved both the visual appeal and responsive nature of the site, and are now working through a wish list of enhancements to turn an outdated and basic website into a valuable “shop window”, helping the researchers show off their capabilities to potential funders.

Find out more about the website and the process of updating it at our Research IT Club in November.

If you have an existing website that you’d like to bring up to date, or you think Research IT could help you show off your research while you concentrate on doing it, get in touch for a consultation.

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