Thursday, June 10, 2010

When Worlds Collide: Early Modern Word Up

It is with some surprise that I discover in the latest email newsletter from UK music magazine Word a link to the new London Lives 1690-1820: Crime, Poverty and Social Policy in the Metropolis.

According to the Project Staff:
  • London Lives makes available, in a fully digitised and searchable form, a wide range of primary sources about eighteenth-century London, with a particular focus on plebeian Londoners. This resource includes over 240,000 manuscript and printed pages from eight London archives and is supplemented by fifteen datasets created by other projects. It provides access to historical records containing over 3.35 million name instances. Facilities are provided to allow users to link together records relating to the same individual, and to compile biographies of the best documented individuals. 
Eventually it will be integrated with an even larger set of databases, as described in Connected Histories: Sources for Building British History, 1500–1900.  London Lives should be added to the bibliography of online works in the 2nd ed. of Sources and Debates (and would be useful for students working on late Stuart social and cultural issues, ch. 9).

One caveat, the organizers promise a wiki to help markup and transcription.  A quick test of my father's name reveals the following:
  • From a Court holden at the said Hospital of Bridewell on Friday the 6th. of March 1746/7 
  • Edward Bellamy being Charged by the Oath of Harry Key at the Wheatsheaf in Cornhill Linnen Draper being a Disorderly Personand Pilferring and Old Hall of small Value his Property. 
That clearly should be "an old hatt" (Bellamy appears to have stolen Harry's hat).  Amazingly, London Lives provides a photo of the original MS. minute book on the same webpage (with a handy zoom) and, indeed, that is what is written.  Amazing source.

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