King Henry VIII’s Crown, In your living room?

Computers may be the ideal topic of discussion for Digital historians, however there are other digital aspects to history which may catch an eye or two. Physical objects have often been what attracts historians who don’t value the digital aspect of history, now there maybe a way to combine the two sides. 3d printing has challenged the norm of artefacts being key elements in understanding the past. When researching the use of a 3D printer, there is an interesting example of a group of researchers who created a 3D model of King Henry VIII’s crown. What is amazing about this breakthrough in technology is that as it scans the objects and creates a mould exactly the same as the original in every specific detail it opens up the item to be used and admired by many. You would never be able to dream of wearing the Crown, well now thanks to some interesting technology the programme is open on the Web for anyone to download and print on their own 3D printers. One thing that annoys many when going to a museum is not being able to actually touch the objects; we all have inhibition and urge to just grab hold of what were told not to touch. Well thanks to this breakthrough we can, and if developed further soon any object will be able to be created within the homes on ordinary people, Artist Oliver Laric has taken this one step further, creating 3D scans of objects in the Usher Gallery, and made them available online for free under the Creative Commons Licence.[1]

To further suggest interesting uses for this 3D model would be to create cheaper smaller models, available for sale. As replicas are most likely already being sold to the general public, precise Replicasof the crown to the smallest detail would surely guarantee more sales and attract more people. Using an actual 3D model of Henry VIII’s crown is a close-to authentic way of creating a piece of the past that visitors can touch and has the added bonus of bringing some profit to the palace, that can be put back into more educational recreations of objects.

  1. “Henry’s Crown”,Historic Royal Palaces. (Accessed, 30th April 2015)

British Library Flickr collection

When analysing the British Library Flickr collection it became apparent that most history textbooks and many academic histories use images to illustrate the history that they tell.[1] However, examining these books in our classes, it is interesting to see that we rarely spend time exploring the images in them, we are more likely to focus our attention instead on the written content. We do so because of the way that images are presented in many historical texts and also because of the way that historians are trained to view images as illustrations of written history rather than sources of history themselves. [2] Although these thoughts are becoming a thing of the past and what is furthermore interesting about the Flickr collection is the ways in which historians can find new ways of understanding the past.

When analysing Flickr, my team came up with three suggestions for its use. The most interesting one was the use of Typography, we can learn a lot about the context of the time through the use of typography in the images. The value this would have to historians is that they could programme the data and extract typography from certain eras in time to learn more about how they wrote. This perhaps is a long shot in terms of attracting a wide audience. But once again it comes down to finding the right historian who shares a similar interest in Historic typography. Moreover, the Flickr collection has thousands of images with letters in historic designs that indicates there is something for everyone if enough interest is generated around the topic of typography. Another interesting value Flickr can add is that text draws us into formal language which some may find harder to understand, also historic texts tends to be quite long to read and can deter audiences. Images however are static examples of moments in time; we as historians can observe moments of true history and take what evidence we can see from the images. For example, images from the Victorian era that show poor families households may have tea on the table. Tea was a luxurious item and very expensive in the Victorian era. So by seeing tea sets within poorer households we as historians can argue tea was open to many classes poor and rich during this era.

The analysis of images in comparison to text opens up new interesting ways in which we can analyse data. Even when taking images of graphs and quantified data, historians need these sets of data to support their thesis in any argument they make. The reason historians rely on graphical data, is that observing data in numerical form is sometimes simpler to understand the vast quantity of data that the historian wants to show the reader. Flickr has many of these examples of quantified data images. Which if a historian uses to their advantage can find many interesting statistics to aid their research knowledge and better their work. As stated by James Borchert, there is a ‘growing interest in new sources and methods, especially quantitative ones’.[3]

Anna Pegler-Gordon,‘Seeing Images in History’, Perspectives on History (February 2006).

(Accessed, 30th April 2015)

[2] IBID

[3] James, Borchert, Historical Methods: A Journal of Quantitative and Interdisciplinary History, Volume 15, Issue 2 (1982), P. 35


Programming for Historians

As digital history becomes ever more popular, the demand for online resources also grows. For the digital historian this is a great opportunity to access a wider range of sources faster and quicker than visiting your local library. The one issue which remains for a digital historian is finding the right program, which searches the documents that are of the same interest as the individual. For example cites such as Google books, which have, millions of books saved within their database how can a historian search this database quickly and efficiently? This is where programming to suit the needs of the historian comes in. As online sources becomes more of a ever growing advantage to historians, so does the need to design their own programs to get the best refined results, thus gaining the ability to know to code can be hugely beneficial to historians and increases their research capabilities. Examples for this are that if a historians can programme a piece of software to search for keywords or particular refines which suit the historians interests, than it can scan over many documents and data across databases refining particular results to suit the historians needs. A good example where we can apply the use of variables to customise the search data, is by applying Boolean logic. For example if we take two variables called ‘start date’ and ‘end date’, then using logic like “when greater or equals to start date AND less than or equal to end date” we will only see information which relates to the time we wanted to see.  This is an advantage to the historian as it allows them to search data within a particular time period.

What is surprising is that many historians have already got experience using computer programs, perhaps without acknowledging it. For instance, Microsoft office, databases often is a great way of extracting information. Furthermore, Blogging amongst historians is becoming increasingly popular, however in able to maintain a blog site, a basic knowledge of the coding behind the text would be a great advantage and enable the historian to maintain their own site without the need for professional assistance.

However, limitations can occur for historians who desire to learn how to programme. Programming is quite time consuming, learning how to programme properly and efficiently can take a while. It is also key to note that a historian may need professional assistance with learning code, which may cost a price, and also if they learn online they are open to not being able to understand certain elements of the code which would better be explained by a person. Never less, programming supports the historian whose research would be enhanced by quicker and better refined sources online.

Janine Noack, ‘Why historians should learn how to code (at least a bit)’Doing History in Public

(Accessed, 29th April 2015)