The Folger Shakespeare Library, located on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, is home to the world’s largest collection of Shakespeare materials and other early modern books, manuscripts and works of art. Through its collections, online presence and research institute, the Folger is a world-class resource for research and public engagement related to Shakespeare and the other artists, thinkers, scientists and politicians of his age.
Connecting Shakespeare was a collaborative R&D project between the Folger and the The Digital Humanities Institute at the University of Sheffield. Drawing on the DHI’s technical expertise, particularly in the areas of natural language processing and web services research, the partnership developed a federated semantic search and discovery service for the Folger’s multiple, online resources:
- The collection catalogue Hamnet which currently comprises approximately 280,000 descriptive, bibliographic records.
- The Digital Image Collection which currently comprises 50,000 objects and associated metadata.
- The Folgerpedia wiki, a forthcoming project that will serve as a guide to the Folger’s collections, activities, and history, edited by Folger staff members and invited guest editors.
We used natural language processing techniques for automating record linkage across the collections and added value to the service by incorporating searchable full-text transcriptions where possible using EEBO-TCP texts.
Our ambition is for Connecting Shakespeare to emerge as the world’s de facto first point of call for research into primary sources relating to Shakespeare and the early modern period. Further, we are seeking to use this service as a fulcrum for a range of transatlantic digital research collaborations involving the Folger Library, academics from the University of Sheffield, and a range of other stakeholders.
- Michael Pidd (Principal Investigator – The Digital Humanities Institute)
- Matthew Groves (Developer – The Digital Humanities Institute)
- Eric Johnson (Director of Digital Access – Folger Shakespeare Library)
- Dr Erin Blake (Curator of Art and Special Collections, Interim Head of Collection Information Services and Cataloging – Folger Shakespeare Library)
- Michael Poston (Database Applications Developer – Folger Shakespeare Library)
Image Credits: ‘Copy of The history of King Henry the Fourth, after 1598’, folios 38v – 39r. Folger Shakespeare Library MS V.b.34. Digital Image Filename 50624.