Monday, 10 November 2014

From Digitisation to Minecraft: My First Month in the Archives

I have been working as the Transforming Archives trainee at the Hull History Centre for just over a month now and I have lots to tell!

Digitising Francis Johnson's Diary 
As mentioned in my previous post I am digitising the diary of Bridlington architect Francis Johnson using an overhead camera.

The handwritten diary details Johnson’s Grand Tour across Europe in 1931, complete with sketches and photographs, and is bound in leather. 
The diary is being digitised so you will be able to view the work in a digital format where it will be easy to browse through the pages and magnify the detail.

Protecting the object you're digitising is an important part of preservation. It is a very big diary at over 360 pages and could not be opened fully flat, therefore creating a suitable angle for the scans was a challenge. To protect the binding of the pages I used a combination of a book rest and wooden plates.

I also experimented with room lighting, and backing papers to obtain the best quality image possible. I placed black sheets of paper behind the page I wanted to scan as this made the images and text more defined, diffusing any text showing through the page. Whilst the scanning is in progress I am also creating a filing system for the digital files, keeping each name to a set standard. I have learned that digitisation involves patience, care, experimentation and a need for standards to keep images organised and at a consistent quality and size. 

Minecraft & the Archives 
The Hull History Centre’s Minecraft project, HullCraft, is now well under way. The aim of HullCraft is to engage young people with archive material by allowing them to create, individually or collaboratively, a virtual world of architecture and artefacts from the archives at Hull History Centre using Minecraft.

For the past month I have been meeting with Joel Mills and Aaron Harter to plan our HullCraft server, the map design and how we can protect and showcase our gamer’s fantastic builds. 

Who would have thought that archives involved building?
Creeper and Steve works in progress for Platform Expo 2014.
In the server we are creating a virtual Minecraft experience of using archives by rebuilding the Hull History Centre and using it as the spawn point. 

We were keen to have the HHC as the focus of the server as it acts as a reminder of what HullCraft is about: the journey of visiting the archives, obtaining your architectural plan, going away to research and build (and having fun!). 

We are also designing a showcase world where you can travel back in time from the HHC and explore Hull from past periods. Screenshots coming soon!

We are looking forward to being at the Platform Expo event at Hull College on the 14th November, so come and say hello! We are even bringing along our life-size Creeper and Steve recycled from old archive boxes.

And that's not all! 
This month I will be spending a week working at The National Archives in Kew with the other  Transforming Archives trainees. I am looking forward to meeting the other trainees, seeing all the different departments at TNA and how they differ from the Hull History Centre. I will be blogging about my visit in the very near future!

Hannah Rice
Transforming Archives Trainee

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