Victorian Blogging – Introduction to the project

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Having begun working at Conway Hall as Digitisation Coordinator for the Victorian Blogging digitisation project at the end of last year, I am already experiencing the full array of goings on here and enjoying the early stages of the project.

My interest in this project stems from my background in studying both Victorian social history and archives management. I have always had a fascination with the immense social change that occurred throughout the Victorian period, and the resulting radical new ideas about politics, gender, science and society. These topics are central to Conway Hall’s pamphlet collection, with writers using the cheap method of publishing pamphlets to disseminate ideas not widely dealt with in mainstream media at the time, such as freedom of thought, women’s rights and the abolition of slavery.

We will be drawing links to how bloggers and zine-makers are making use of similarly cheap ‘DIY’ media as a platform for discussing the same topics today. I am also interested in harnessing digital technologies to improve access to and engagement with heritage collections. Through digitising Conway Hall Library’s rare and fascinating pamphlets, they will be made freely available online and provide valuable learning resources for school workshops, talks, courses, and a Wikipedia edit-a-thon.

At this early stage of the project, we are preparing the pamphlets for digitisation. This involves carefully checking their physical condition, ensuring they are robust enough for digitisation, and identifying any need for conservation treatment. We are beginning to conduct wider research into the pamphlets and their authors and identify links between the topics they discuss and related issues in the present day. Our Library Cataloguer, Olwen, is also busy ensuring the pamphlets are all fully catalogued. I will look forward to keeping you all updated as the project progresses!

Alicia Chilcott

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