A new index created by the University of Hertfordshire, the University of London, and the University of Sheffield and made available by the Institute of Historical Research is a remarkable free resource and suggests some of the ways that historical digital collections may develop.
Connected Histories: British History Sources, 1500-1900, indexes a number of free and subscription resources on British history. It allows structured searching in millions of pages of digitized text and images. Currently, the following resources are indexed:
- British History Online
- British Museum Images
- British Newspapers 1600-1900 (subscription). The 17th and 18th Century Burney Collection are included. The 19th-century materials are in production and will be added as soon as possible.
- Charles Booth Online Archive
- Clergy of the Church of England Database 1540–1835
- House of Commons Parliamentary Papers (subscription)
- John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera from the Bodleian Library (subscription)
- John Strype’s Survey of London
- London Lives, 1690–1800
- Origins Network (subscription)
- The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Online, 1674–1913
The first update, scheduled for September, will include 65,000 British Library books from the Historic Books Platform, 19th century pamphlets from JSTOR, and abstracts of wills from The National Archives.
The project used natural language processing to identify names, places and dates in unstructured texts, and combined these with structured databases to create a single resource searchable by names, places and dates, as well as by keywords and phrases. Users can save results in their own workspace and document connections between sources.
Connected Histories can be found at <http://www.connectedhistories.org/>. Here is a brief video introduction to the resource: