Crime report

The execution of John Carpenter, alias Hell Fire Jack, the noted horse stealer, at Tyburn, 1805

The execution of John Carpenter, alias Hell Fire Jack, the noted horse stealer, at Tyburn, 1805

Last week Melissa Highton (RunCoCo’s director) attended the academic advisory group of the Mapping Crime project. (RunCoCo blogged about the previous meeting in May 2010.)

With this project the Bodleian Library is providing links between the crime material available through the John Johnson Collection: An Archive of printed Ephemera and other online resources containing related material or source information.

From this Academic Advisory Board meeting Melissa writes:

“It was an interesting meeting about a fascinating resource. I found the discussions about community engagement, adding value and discovery particularly interesting.

‘Discovery’ mostly concerned how this additional resource would be found within the larger John Johnson Collection. The project will create a handcrafted set of links between related resources and information to guide researchers to information directly related to their line of enquiry, and will allow them to build connections or follow trails between different resources. The fact that the collection project is called ‘mapping’, would lead some people, I think, to assume it included maps. ‘Mapping crime’ as in ‘the geography of crime’ usually does. I’m not sure if continuing to call the resource ‘mapping crime’, after the linking activity has been done will make sense to users coming to the resource for the first time.

We discussed briefly the role of the expert researcher/archivist in adding value to each of these collections by creating the links between them. At a time when linked data projects are focussing on automatic generation of links, the expert is expensive, but perhaps still essential in work like this? It reminded me of lessons learned from the creation of The Great War Archive.

With regard to communities perhaps not thought of by the project team it struck me that the project will create a cracking resource for the great Oxford tradition of crime writing and perhaps the Centre for Creative Writing at Kellogg College.

Looking for a report of a bizarre crime from Victorian times to trigger your inspiration? John Johnson‘s your man.”

Image credits:

  • The life and death of John Carpenter, alias Hell Fire Jack… (permanent URL) Copyright © 2008-2010 ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved. Images and metadata copyright © Bodleian Library, University of Oxford.
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