Digital Humanities projects

Digital Humanities Data Hive: Accessing Humanities Data at Scale

Main contact: Prof Lorna Hughes and Prof Marc Alexander
Funding: £93,000
Start date: November 2021

The Digital Humanities Data Hive (DH2) is a proposed national, interactive data centre for the arts and humanities, where diverse datasets from a variety of disciplines can be collected, connected, and explored in innovative ways. DH2 will consist of two key elements: a Data Service, which will integrate new and existing data repositories into a centralised resource, and a Data Lab, where a new analytical layer of tools will enable the manipulation, mining, re-use, and visualisation of these materials. Consequently, DH2 will represent the home for any and all humanities data that can be transformed and enriched through the data-driven integration of research data and tools, including digital text, image, multimedia, and multimodal collections.

Our research will allow us to produce a business case for DH2 that is evidence-based, fully-costed, and comprehensively incorporates the needs and aims of arts and humanities data experts. This business case will lay out the feasibility and high-level specification of DH2 and address value, challenges, barriers, opportunities, sustainability, and costs, including a detailed and fully costed specification for building, developing, and starting up the data centre and data lab. It will further incorporate a project plan that sets out the detailed technical specification, timetable, resources (human and infrastructure), open systems and tools required for a next-generation arts and humanities data service.

Early Cinema in Scotland

Dates: 2012-2015

The central aim of this School of Culture and Creative project is to produce a comprehensive account of the early development of cinema in Scotland. Information Studies are developing the underlying databases, including geo-databases, and websites.

Exploring digital methods for interaction, exploration, and experiencing contested histories

Funder - Royal Society of Edinburgh
Date – January 1, 2020
Funding – £10,000

The Exploring digital methods for interaction, exploration, and experiencing contested histories project is funded by RSE Arts & Humanities Research Grants, in collaboration with the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The RSE project will examine the histories, archives, and narratives around the sinking of the HMY Iolaire off the coast of Lewis in January 1919 to explore a new conceptual model for community generated digital histories. The project will be an interdisciplinary partnership, investigating interconnected aspects of community generated digital historical content, the exploration of traumatic histories, and the potential of digital mediation and interactivity to work with, and sustain, this digital material.

Europeana Research

Europeana Research

Funder: European Commission
Dates: May 2016-May 2017

Information Studies is included in the Europeana DSI2 to lead the Europeana Research Advisory Board, and to carry out a series of activities to increase research use of content and metadata. This research will have two main outcomes: First, it will provide evidence for the Europeana Content Strategy, identifying both new content that can be made accessible via Europeana and technical and policy approaches to enriching access to this content. Secondly, the research will provide evidence to both the research community and Europeana to demonstrate the value and impact of Europeana for research.

Fragments of the Republican Roman Orators

Funded by: European Research Council (ERC)

Main contact: Professor Catherine Steel
Start date: 2012End date: 2017

IIIF for Research (IIIF4R) Network

  • Main contact: Professor Lorna Hughes (Information Studies)
  • Funding: £23,880
  • Start date: 01/05/2020

This research network will investigate the potential for innovative forms of scholarly discussion and interchange offered by the International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF). IIIF enables much easier sharing, annotation and manipulation of digital images from libraries, archives, galleries, and museums across institutional and national boundaries, and offers researchers exciting new possibilities for joint analysis, documentation and discussion of primary materials. IIIF has been one of the most successful digital humanities initiatives of recent years and has been adopted by a wide range of heritage institutions across the world, including the Vatican Library, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, the British Library, the Digital Repository of Ireland, and the National Libraries of Wales and Scotland. Major libraries of historic manuscripts, such as the Parker Library at the University of Cambridge and the Durham Priory Library, are being made available in their entirety using IIIF. IIIF-compliant browsers such as Mirador enable images from collections in different countries to be compared side-by-side at very high magnification, offering the prospect of easily creating large trans-national collections of images of manuscripts and other primary materials. IIIF browsers also support user annotation of images, thereby potentially fostering the emergence of new forms of scholarly presentation and shared commentary on primary materials and artefacts. Some of the possibilities have already been demonstrated by scholars such as Jeffrey C. Witt of Loyola University, who has used IIIF to generate image-based scholarly editions.

The objectives of this research network are to organise four workshops at Glasgow, Durham, Dublin and Aberystwyth which will build a dialogue between arts and humanities researchers, curators and information professionals intended to develop research-driven agendas for the deployment and development of IIIF to investigate a wide range of primary materials and archives relevant to humanities research domains. The workshops will build on acknowledged leadership in development and promotion of IIIF in both the United Kingdom and Ireland. They will demonstrate the many different ways in which IIIF supports innovative analysis and commentary on the various types of source material used by arts and humanities researchers. They will document user cases where the facilities offered by IIIF are valuable in addressing particular research questions. Reports and presentations from the workshops will be made available to facilitate future development of IIIF and to encourage scholarly engagement with the potential of IIIF. The workshops will also be used to develop larger-scale projects making use of IIIF, including it is hoped projects suitable for funding in future UK-Ireland joint funding calls.

Ingenious (Digital) Impressions

Funder: University of Glasgow Chancellor’s Fund

Ingenious (Digital) Impressions provides a platform for emerging new voices in Book History, creating a digital display of the 2015 Hunterian ‘Ingenious Impressions’ exhibition of the University’s incunabula. Funded by the University’s Chancellor’s Fund, the project offers Honours Undergraduate students, Taught Masters Students and early stage PhD candidates the opportunity to engage in original research using the Library’s newly launched Glasgow Incunabula Project and to communicate this research to academic and public audiences. The resulting website and App will ensure the unique collections at Glasgow are properly showcased and advertised to students of the book, researchers of book history, and the general public, and will provide a much-needed point of access to the Glasgow Incunabula Project catalogue which inspired the 2015 exhibition. Thus, this project offers students the opportunity to work with an inimitable collection of material objects, develop their independent research skills, and strengthen their communication and team-working skills. The intention of the project is that working with rare materials will spark interest in under-studied items from the collection and encourage future undergraduate and postgraduate research.

Listening to British Cultures: listeners' responses to music in Britain, c. 1700-2018

Funder: AHRC
Dates: March 2016-Feb 2019

Lorna Hughes is co-Investigator in the Listening and British Cultures project, led by the Open University. This project will analyse the listening experience in Britain in the period c.1700-2018, emphasising the written testimony of the impact of music, and developing a new way of studying how and what music communicates, and that it can, when gathered as a mass, inform novel approaches to musicology.

The project will combine empirical research methods effectively with digital research methods. It does not aim merely at gathering 'big data', but sets out to use that data to support a traditional strength of humanities research - close reading of texts to underpin the writing of historical narratives. It builds on the Listening Experience Database (LED) project (2013-15,, which established a methodology for collecting accounts of listening experiences in any period or culture, and a tool, in the form of a Linked Open Data database, for its storage and analysis. The project will benefit museums, libraries and archives - in particular, specific institutions with which the team will be working - by informing understanding of and increasing exposure to their collections. It will develop and document a clear methodology for using digital content in humanities research, including large-scale data sets such as social media archives that are currently difficult to use. It will establish data modelling practices transferable to other projects and create data assets of value to both academics and other users such as the media (for example, rich data about a wide range of music).

Living Legacies 1914-18 First World War Engagement Centre

Funder: AHRC
Dates: January 2014- December 2016

The Living Legacies 1914-18 Engagement Centre is a hub of knowledge exchange and research coproduction, integrating community researchers within a framework of arts and humanities expertise and scholarship in five key areas of research: Digital technologies and research; performance studies; material cultures and archaeology; migration history; and museum studies, focussing on key FWW commemorative events and anniversaries. The Centre is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in partnership with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) until December 2016.

As Co-Investigator, Lorna Hughes is leading a programme of research on the impact of the digital commemoration of the First World War. The First World War has seen a digital 'big bang', with more digital activity funded through disparate initiatives internationally than any other historical period. This has created a lot of digital resources as well as community engagement, but there has been very little formal analysis of the impact of these digital outputs, and how they are used: where evidence exists, it is often anecdotal. This has also raised a big gap in existing knowledge, which is the impact and sustainability of all the investment in digital outputs related to the commemoration of the First World War. A comprehensive study on the cultural value of the digital commemoration will be completed in 2016.

Magazin zur Erfahrungsseelenkunde, K. P. Moritz, digital edition

Funded by: British Academy

Main contact: Sheila Dickson
Start date:  2008
End date:  2008


Funder: European Science Foundation
Dates: 2011-2015 (Network); 2015-17 (publication phase)

The European Science Foundation funded the Research Network in Digital Methods in the Arts and Humanities (NeDiMAH), to look at the practice of digital humanities across Europe, and to understand what researchers need in order to do digitally enabled research in the future. From a detailed programme of methodologically focused activities, a publications programme is now underway. Coordinated by Lorna Hughes (Information Studies), this will develop a series of bublications based on activities organised by the NeDiMAH working groups in key digital humanities methodological areas: Space and Time; Information Visualization; Linked Data and Ontological Methods; Developing Digital Data; Large-Scale Text Collections; Scholarly Digital Editions; and the description and representation of digital humanities methods.

NeMo: The Nedimah Methods Ontology

Funder: European Science Foundation (2011-15)
Dates: Ongoing

The NeMo: The Nedimah Methods Ontology (NeMO) is a comprehensive ontological model of scholarly practice in the arts and humanities, developed through the ESF Research Network NeDiMAH. The project is led by the Digital Curation Unit, Athena Research Institute, Greece. NeMO is a CIDOC CRM-compliant ontology which explicitly addresses the interplay of factors of agency (actors and goals), process (activities and methods) and resources (information resources, tools, concepts) manifest in the scholarly process. It builds on the results of extensive empirical studies and modelling of scholarly practices performed by the Digital Curation Unit in projects DARIAH andEHRI. NeMO incorporates existing relevant taxonomies of scholarly methods and tools, such as TaDIRAH, the and Oxford taxonomies of ICT methods, DHCommons, CCC-IULA-UPF and DiRT, through appropriate mappings of the concepts defined therein onto a semantic backbone of NeMO concepts. It thus enables combining documentary elements on scholarly practices of different perspectives and using different vocabularies.

Our Heritage, Our Stories

Contact: Prof. Lorna Hughes (Information Studies)
Funding: £3.6M (AHRC)
Start Date: 01/10/2021

Our Heritage, Our Stories, which will enable community-generated collections to be linked and explored, is one of five major projects that have been awarded a total of £14.5million in funding by the AHRC to connect the UK’s cultural artefacts and historical archives in new and transformative ways using innovative technologies. Towards a National Collection is a five-year research programme to work on how thousands of disparate collections could be explored by public audiences and academic researchers in the future.

Our Heritage, Our Stories will work for three years with heritage organisations across Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland to explore the vast community-generated reservoir of knowledge about the past which is at risk. This ranges from personal and private collections to websites that explore the histories and culture of geographic areas and neighbourhoods. All of this rich and democratic content is often hard for researchers and the public to discover and use due to its dispersed nature. The Glasgow-led project will build sophisticated AI-based tools to bring together this community-generated digital content and make it searchable by anyone, anywhere in the world.

Our project will use multidisciplinary methods to make previously unfindable and unlinkable community-generated digital content discoverable within the national collection, while respecting and embracing its complexity and diversity by co-designing and building sophisticated automated tools to make it searchable and connected. We will showcase its new accessibility to the world through a major new public-facing Observatory at TNA where people can access, reuse, and remix this newly integrated content. As we dissolve barriers and add meaningful links across these collections, we will make them accessible to new and diverse audiences and open them up for research - demonstrated via multidisciplinary case studies - and embed new strategies for future management of CGDC into heritage practice and training. Public engagement is a driving theme in our project, which will be developed on principles of co-production and participatory design.

Our Heritage, Our Stories project partners include The National Archives, The University of Manchester, Tate, British Museum, the National Library of Scotland, the National Library of Wales, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, Archives+, Wikimedia UK, the Association for Learning Technology, the Digital Preservation Coalition, the Software Sustainability Institute, the Dictionaries of the Scots Language & the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Runaway Slaves in Britain: bondage, freedom and race in the eighteenth century

Funded by: Leverhulme Trust

Main contact:  Professor Simon Newman
Start date: 2015
End date: 2017

Scottish National Heritage partnership

Date: March 1st, 2018
Funding: £74,998

The Scottish Heritage partnership is a nine-month AHRC-funded initiative aiming to address the existing practice and future potential of immersive experiences and technologies in the collections and heritage industry in Scotland. Its key research question revolves around measuring the success of approaches to immersive technologies at major heritage sites in Scotland, both in terms of outcomes against business plan expectations and in terms of visitor response, and the kinds of future development supported by the evidence.

Situating Pacific Barkcloth Production in Time and Place

Funded by: AHRC

Main contact: Frances Lennard
Start date: 2016
End date: 2019

The Paintings of James McNeill Whistler: A Catalogue Raisonné

Funded by: Leverhulme Trust, Lunder Foundation

Main contact: Professor Margaret F. MacDonald
Start date: 2014
End date: 2017

First World War Belgian Refugees and Infrastructures for Linking Digital Histories: WW1_BRILDH

Funder: AHRC
Date: April 1st, 2018
Funding: £60,000

The WW1_BRILDH project is funded for 9-months by the AHRC. It addresses the research question of how we can develop strategic approaches to linking, exposing, and using digital collections relating to First World War Belgian Refugees, and how this approach can help us develop a better understanding of the impact, value, and sustainability of digital histories. This addresses a fundamental concern in digital humanities: can we develop new approaches to using the digital records of the past?

The project collaborators include historians, cultural heritage staff, digital history and digital humanities experts, working together in a process of active research. The project will provide a concrete model of digital humanities innovation using existing digital historical content developed for the First World War Centenary.