Directory of Cambridge-based Digitization Projects

L. Denault & D. Palfrey, 1-11-08


ACAD: A Cambridge Alumni Database
Project contact: J.L. Dawson, JLD1 (at)

Description: This database is planned to contain biographical details of everyone who has been identified as being officially associated with the University of Cambridge, covering the period approximately from 1200 to 1900. In addition to the standard printed sources of information by Venn and Emden, which cover men only, we have added information from Newnham and Girton Colleges so that women are also included. John Venn (1834-1923) was the Logician and Mathematician who invented what are now known as ‘Venn Diagrams’. He devoted much of his time to the publication of Cambridge University and College records. He and (later) his son, John Archibald Venn (1883-1958), published the four volumes of Alumni Cantabrigienses ... from the Earliest Times to 1751, which appeared between 1922 and 1927. John Archibald Venn then continued his father’s work, publishing the six volumes of Alumni Cantabrigienses ... from 1752 to 1900 between 1940 and 1954. In the 1960s, A. B. Emden worked extensively on material from the earliest times until 1500, and published A Biographical Register of the University of Cambridge to 1500 in 1963. This largely supersedes the information in Venn for everyone at Cambridge before 1500. These ten volumes of Venn, and the volume by Emden, plus information from Newnham and Girton Colleges (the first women’s Colleges at Cambridge) form the basis of the biographies presented in this database.


Arctic Collections Project
Project contacts: Robin Boast and Michael Bravo

Description: How can Arctic collections in museums become more meaningful to people who actually live in the Arctic? This question lies at the heart of current debate about the purpose of museums and their relationships with their audiences. Two Cambridge researchers with a highly innovative solution, have received a grant from the Designated Challenge Fund of the Museums Libraries and Archives Council of the UK Government. Their aim is to develop a new set of on-line tools to provide better access to the historical documentation of the important Arctic collections at two University of Cambridge museums, the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, and the Scott Polar Research Institute Museum. Dr. Robin Boast and Dr. Michael Bravo believe that the idea of online 'access' needs to be explored more creatively. Normally access is understood to mean viewing objects and their simple descriptions over the internet. The website at the Cambridge Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology is an excellent example. The project will make available, on-line, the integrated documentary, photographic and object collections from the Graham W. Rowley, Thomas T. Patterson, Thomas Henry Manning and Sir James Wordie collections at CUMAA, and the diverse north-eastern Canadian Arctic collections at SPRI. However Boast and Bravo want to go one step further and enable expert communities who know most about the objects — like Inuit residents of the Arctic — to add information and develop historical narratives. Technically, the contribution of northern experts is limited only by the consent of those wanting to add data to the collection, and the ability of the institution to respond by building these networks: the range of northern voices contributing to the collections becomes theoretically limitless. By enabling diverse user communities to engage directly with collections, this project will broaden the information base, both its extent and expertise, directly in collaboration with individuals and communities.


Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies (CARET)
Project contact: Stephanie Saunders, Administrator, camtools (at)

Description: CARET's services are available to anyone at the University of Cambridge who wishes to use technology to support research, teaching or learning. We aim to enrich the experience of education for students, teachers and researchers by providing a range of generic tools free of charge or producing tailor-made solutions where funding is available. CARET also promotes the debate and evaluation of developments in educational technologies.


Cambridge English Renaissance Electronic Service (CERES)
Project contacts: Gavin Alexander and Raphael Lyne

Description: CERES, the Cambridge English Renaissance Electronic Service, was started in October 1996 in response to the developing importance of electronic media in literary research. Aimed at those working in the area of English Renaissance literature and its environs, it offered its members a Starter Guide to help them get more from the internet, and a regular email newsletter. Soon afterwards the CERES website was created, initially supporting and enhancing the email service, and gradually expanding to offer unique facilities and content. It provides ready access to all that we have done so far, by means of an Archive of recent back issues and of less recent digests, along with our Starter Guide. In the last two years the most significant change has been the introduction of COPIA, or CERES Online Publications Interactive. This includes research projects aiming to publish new material online. The first was 'Aeneas and Isabella', which undertakes a new attribution of two poems to Isabella Whitney, and includes editions of the poems. The second project was 'Sidneiana', a collection of manuscript resources relating to Sir Philip Sidney and his circle. The most recent CERES project is 'Hap Hazard', a collection of transcribed manuscript materials relating to Edmund Spenser, currently focusing on his Irish experience. It includes a very important new edition of the Gonville and Caius MS of A View of the Present State of Ireland, and the first attempt to collect all Spenser's secretarial letters from Ireland in one place. All these projects aim to expand, both under the efforts of their originators, and with the help of others who we hope will come on board.


Cambridge University Library Digital Projects List
Project contact: Ann Taylor, Head of the Map Dept, Cambridge University Library, aemt2(a)

Description: At the Spring 2002 meeting of BRICMICS (British and Irish Committee on Map Information and Cataloguing Systems) it was suggested that the Committee should maintain a list of British and Irish digital projects, to include announcements of upcoming projects, details of those in progress or completed, and information about new maps on the Internet. The intention of the list is to alert colleagues to projects which might be of interest. It is also hoped that it will help to prevent duplication of effort. The list is compiled twice a year, prior to BRICMICS meetings.


The Centre of Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies Affiliated Projects
Project contact: secretary (at)

Description: The Centre is working with the Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation on the Sunna Project. This project aims to encourage, facilitate and advance work in all the disciplines of hadith study by means of the Hadith Database, and to continually enrich the Database by means of the research it encourages and the interaction of all the members working in the field. Other projects in which the Centre is currently involved include:
+ The Islamic Manuscript Association: This is a new project to be run in conjunction with the Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation with the aim of encouraging scholarship related to Islamic manuscripts and supporting the conservation, cataloguing, and digitisation of Islamic manuscripts worldwide.
+ Cambridge Arab Media Project: The Cambridge Arab Media Project encourages research into the Arab media and provides media professionals and academics with an open and neutral platform for debate.
+ Golden Web: This innovative internet project is developing a map-based history of the pre-modern trading systems of the old world, enabling scholars to trace the movements of commodities, ideas and people in an entirely new way.


The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online
Project contact: Dr. John van Whye

Description: The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online (or Darwin Online) began in 2002 to assemble in one scholarly website all of Darwin's published writings and unpublished papers. It does not cover his unpublished letters which were already the focus of the Darwin Correspondence Project. Darwin Online is by far the largest Darwin publication in history. It contains over 54,000 pages of searchable text and 155,000 electronic images. This site contains at least one exemplar of all known Darwin publications, reproduced to the highest scholarly standards, both as searchable text and electronic images of the originals.


D-Space at Cambridge
Project contact: support (at)

Description: DSpace@Cambridge is the institutional repository of the University of Cambridge. The repository was established in 2003 to facilitate the deposit of digital content of a scholarly or heritage nature, allowing employees and their departments at the University to share and preserve this content in a managed environment. For more information on the DSpace@Cambridge's services please go to the support web site.


Digital Himalaya project at Cambridge’s Department of Social Anthropology and the Anthropology Department at Cornell University
Project contacts: Professor Alan Macfarlane and Dr. Mark Turin

Description: The Digital Himalaya project has three primary objectives:
1. to preserve in a digital medium archival anthropological materials from the Himalayan region that are quickly degenerating in their current forms, including films in various formats, still photographs, sound recordings, field notes, maps and rare journals
2. to make these resources available over broadband internet connections, coupled with an accurate search and retrieval system useful to contemporary researchers and students
3. to make these resources available on DVD to the descendants of the people from whom the materials were collected by making them both easily transportable and viewable in a digital medium.

Five ethnographic collections representing a broad range of regions, ethnic groups, time periods, and themes were slated for digitisation in the first phase of the project, along with a set of maps of Nepal and important journals on Himalayan studies.


ebooks@cambridge: Cambridge College Libraries Forum electronic books project
Project contact: ucam-lib-ebooks (at)

Description: ebooks@cambridge is an initiative of Cambridge College Libraries that provides access to electronic versions of hundreds of the books most used by undergraduate students. They are available to all current staff and students of the University from any location at any time. We currently receive financial support from 25 Colleges, 24 Departments or Faculties, the Isaac Newton Trust and the University Library. The ebooks provide online versions of complete texts, allowing readers to search, print and download sections of works (subject to the usual copyright restrictions). Additionally, they offer features such as dictionary checking and citation export; electronic notes and bookmarks can be made by creating a personal account. The number of simultaneous logins and functions available for each book vary according to the provider and the format in which the text has been provided by the publisher.


The Edmund Spenser Home Page
Project contact: Andrew Zurcher, site editor, Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge

Description: This set of pages is devoted to supporting the reading, study, and discussion of the words of Edmund Spenser. It aims to serve the needs of the scholar, of the student, and of the interested passer-by, offering resources and links of various level of specialization. The biography, texts, and certain of the links are aimed at those new to or relatively unfamiliar with Spenser and his works. The bibliography is essentially a student's tool, though the 'what's new' section might help even senior scholars keep track of relevant publications in Spenser studies. Many of the links will be useful to those studying and researching Spenser's works and Renaissance English literature more broadly, while the Sidney-Spenser Discussion List is a very useful resource for those who consider Sidney or Spenser studies a primary interest. The Spenser Home Page is very fortunate to host the pages of the Spenser Society, an international scholarly organization dedicated to the fostering of Spenser studies. The Society publishes the Spenser Newsletter, containing conference and publication news, which it is hoped will shortly also be available here. The Society also sponsors, coordinates, and contributes to a number of activities annually, including sessions at MLA and Kalamazoo. The Spenser Home Page is also fortunate to host the pages of the journal Spenser Studies, an annual scholarly journal dedicated to the study of Spenser's poetry and of English Renaissance verse more generally.


Hamilton Kerr Institute, Fitzwilliam Museum: Winsor & Newton Archive Project: Nineteenth century recipes for artists' materials
Project contact: hki-admin (at)

Description: Winsor & Newton was founded in 1832, and continues today as the leading supplier of fine artists' materials worldwide. The nineteenth century manuscript archive is unique, it includes 87 manuscripts of recipes and notes for making artists' pigments, oil colour, water colours and other materials, a total of 17,000 pages. No other known historical archive of nineteenth century colourmen are as extensive and detailed. Windsor & Newton have generously permitted the cataloguing, digital imaging and indexing of this important collection, allowing access for researchers to unique primary sources. This website contains a brief introduction to the archive material that has been catalogued. The AHRC funded project is due to complete after December 2007, after this time it is hoped that the catalogue will be available internationally at a number of portals.


Medieval Imaginations: literature and visual culture in the middle ages
Project contact: mi_enquiries (at)

Description: The Medieval Imaginations website has been developed through the successful collaboration of members of the Faculty of English and CARET (the Centre for Applied Research in Educational Technologies) in the University of Cambridge. Funding for the development of the site was provided from a HEFCE initiative intended to encourage the use of new technologies in teaching and learning. 'Medieval Imaginations' provides a database of images to enable you to explore the interface between the literature and visual culture of medieval England. It has been compiled to provide images corresponding to the main episodes dramatized in the English Mystery Plays, because these present the medieval view of human history from the Creation to the Last Judgement. These biblical stories, and images related to them, would have been instantly recognisable to a medieval audience. The images are mostly of English origin and from the later Middle Ages, with an emphasis on material from East Anglia, one of medieval England's most dynamic regions. Images have been selected to represent the rich diversity of artistic forms and media, including painting, stained glass, alabaster, textiles, and sculpture. Images were the books of all those who could not read in the Middle Ages, and through 'Medieval Imaginations' you can reconstruct something of the visual culture that once surrounded medieval people and gave meaning to their world.


The Oral History of Twentieth Century Mongolia: Memory, narrative and the state
Project contact: info (at)

Description: The Oral History of Twentieth Century Mongolia is a collaborative research project of the Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit at the University of Cambridge and the International Association for Mongol Studies in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. The project was begun in the fall of 2005 and is currently in a pilot phase, which will last through the summer of 2007. The project was awarded a five-year grant from the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). This will allow us to pursue the project on a more intensive basis over the next few years, beginning in the fall of 2007. In its completed form, the project will include a searchable database of over 500 interviews and supporting material in Mongolian and English.


The Parker-on-the-Web Digitisation Project at Corpus Christi College
Project contact: parker-library (at)

Description: During 2004/5 the College carried out a pilot project to investigate the feasibility of digitising the Parker collection of manuscripts. The College has now embarked on a project to digitise the medieval manuscripts in the Parker Library. Known as the Parker-on-the-Web Digitisation Project it has been jointly developed by the College and Stanford University, and is supported financially by the Andrew W. Mellon foundation. It is likely to take four years to complete, and in scale and importance is one of the most ambitious and wide-ranging digitisation projects of its type. Scans of every page of each manuscript will be available to scholars world-wide via the web. Additional resources will be available, possible by means of a passworded website These may include printed editions and translations of each manuscript, together with bibliographical information, and, it is hoped, some on-line access to secondary material. Results of an earlier project, in which the Matthew Paris Chronica Maiora was digitised, can be seen at


Royal Commonwealth Society Photograph Project at the Cambridge University Library
Project contact: rcs (at)

Description: The Royal Commonwealth Society Photograph Collection contains over 70,000 images from all over the world. Dating from the mid-1850s to the mid-1980s the photographs provide insight into the history of the Commonwealth, documenting developments in a wide variety of fields including medicine, education and industry. The RCS Photograph Project has been established to promote access to this valuable collection. The project aims to: reorganise the current paper catalogues to meet international archiving standards; make this data available via a web-searchable database; digitise images from the collection, creating an online gallery. The project will provide a number of benefits. Users will be able to access detailed catalogues over the Internet and perform searches for specific individuals, countries or keywords. The online gallery will demonstrate the richness and variety of the images contained in the collection and will prove a useful resource for those unable to visit the Library.


Scriptorium: Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Online
Project contact: Dr Christopher Burlinson, Faculty of English, Cambridge (cmb29 (at)

Description: Scriptorium: Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Online comprises a digital archive of manuscript miscellanies – notebooks, diaries, commonplace books, collections of verse, prose and practical information, and so on – from the period c. 1450-1720. It also includes interactive research and teaching resources for late medieval and early modern manuscript studies. It falls into three sections:
+ Manuscripts: Browsable and searchable digital facsimiles of manuscript miscellanies and commonplace books from c. 1450-1720, with accompanying descriptions, transcriptions and bibliographies.
+English Handwriting: An interactive teaching resource on the handwriting of the late medieval and early modern periods, for those new to the study of medieval and early modern palaeography, and also for more experienced users.
+Resources: A selection of interactive, descriptive and downloadable resources on manuscript studies, such as essays, bibliographies, databases and links to other resources.

Scriptorium: Medieval and Early Modern Manuscripts Online is funded by a three-year AHRC Resource Enhancement grant. It is hosted in the Faculty of English, University of Cambridge.

(The site will be under construction until September 2009).


Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection at the Cambridge University Library
Project contact: Dr. Ben Outhwaite, genizah (at)

Description: Imaging Services' latest project is to digitize fragments of centuries-old Hebrew manuscript material from the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection housed at Cambridge University Library. An important collection of ancient Jewish and Arabic documents, equal in significance to the Dead Sea Scrolls, and discovered as fragments in an old storeroom, has received a major grant for its upkeep. The Taylor-Schechter Genizah Collection, housed at Cambridge University Library, has been awarded a £475,000 grant from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council. This will pay for the description, cataloguing and digitization of a substantial part of the total 140,000 fragments, vital in making this unique collection accessible to scholars and lay people worldwide. This three-year project will see the digitization of approximately 32,000 images. This has been made possible by a grant from the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council to the Genizah Collection and will go towards the description, cataloguing and digitization of a large part of the collections 140,000 fragments.


Tibetan-Mongolian Rare Books and Manuscripts Project
Project contacts: Hildegard Diemberger & Stephen Hugh-Jones

Description: Hosted by the Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit at the University of Cambridge, this is a three-year project funded by the AHRB and co-ordinated by Dr Hildegard Diemberger for the cataloguing, microfilming and digitising of Tibetan and Mongolian texts available at Cambridge, Oxford and The British Library - primarily the Waddel/Younghusband collection.


Trinity College Manuscript Digitisation Project: Treasures from the Trinity College Library
Project contact: trin-lib (at)

Description: Trinity College Library is systematically providing wider access to its rich collections. The Manuscript Digitisation Project was started in the summer 2004, and the images for this project were taken in order to create a 'test image archive.' They are therefore not of professional quality, but will serve to illustrate some of the medieval manuscripts held in the Library. The project currently includes over 300 images from twelve manuscripts written and illuminated between the tenth and the fifteenth centuries. The images include full pages with script, miniatures, historiated and decorated initials, decorated borders, line-fillers, bas-de-page, rubrics, and internal binding structures.