Livingstone's 1871 Field Diary

A Multispectral Critical Edition

Analysis to Dissemination: Preliminary Data Analysis
The spectral imaging and transcription of Livingstone’s diary produced a treasure trove of data. Alongside many other tasks, Wisnicki worked with team members to develop a preliminary analysis of this data during the final phase of the project. This endeavor embraced a number of discrete activities.
First, Wisnicki produced a detailed history of the diary that tracked the manuscript from the nineteenth century to the present day. Anne Martin (DLC) and Alison Metcalfe (NLS) supplied a number of crucial, internal documents to support the research. These documents coupled with materials previously assembled enabled Wisnicki to track – for the first time – the complex journey of the diary that ultimately resulted in the document becoming the first significant nineteenth-century British manuscript to be enhanced with multispectral image processing.
Figures 1, 2. Livingstone, 1871 Field Diary, 297b/146, color (above)
and spectral ratio (below), detail. The image shows Livingstone's
change of ink in the middle of the page as he begins a new paragraph.
Wisnicki also undertook a careful examination of Livingstone’s methods for composing and structuring the manuscript. This examination built on the XML encoding of the manuscript by Wisnicki and Simpson, an endeavor that drew attention to a wide range of unique textual and material manuscript features. Wisnicki identified the practices Livingstone employed on a day-to-day basis in writing up his experiences and catalogued Livingstone’s strategies for organizing entries in the two copy-books that make up the key portion of the diary.
Most importantly, Wisnicki turned his attention to Livingstone’s inks. As far back as December 2009, Wisnicki had suggested to Gustavo Fermin (the assistant of Peter Beard, owner of the Letter from Bambarre) that Livingstone – in recoding the Nyangwe massacre – had, apparently, switched from the improvised ink he used to compose most of the 1871 field diary to what may have been his last supply of iron gall ink. This suggested that Livingstone had grasped the significance of the events unfolding before him and decided that it was worth drawing on his dwindling ink stock to produce a permanent record.
Figure 3. Livingstone, 1871 Field Diary, 297b/146,
reflectance spectra graph. The dotted line represents the
page's first paragraph, the solid line the second.
Fenella France (U.S. Library of Congress) advised Wisnicki on the development of new techniques to identify and characterize inks and colorants, while Easton applied these techniques to generate the reflectance spectra for a sample of pages from the diary. The resulting graphs, which Easton collected in a series of PowerPoints, supported through scientific data what Wisnicki had previously deduced based on visual study of the processed images (especially the two paragraphs on page 297b/146).
During this phase, Harrison carried out detailed comparative analysis of the 1871, 1872, and 1874 versions of the manuscript. This work would become the basis of both future research and the press campaign (see below), while Simpson heroically assisted Wisnicki in completing numerous tasks related to the diary’s critical apparatus. Wisnicki also carried out further analysis of the three texts to develop the Livingstone in 1871 section, which overviews some of the key new information revealed by the 1871 Field Diary. In addition, Simpson consulted with Ulrike Al-Khamis, a specialist in Arab/Islamic Art and Culture at the University of Edinburgh, and Paul Dundas, a Sanskrit specialist also at Edinburgh, to discuss a number of questions related to the Arab traders with whom Livingstone had travelled and to explore the issue of dating in Livingstone’s diary.
Dissemination, Results Release, and the "UK Tour"
The Livingstone team's dissemination strategy focused on both general and academic audiences. To reach academics, team members delivered a series of talks while the project was developing. These included conference presentations, lectures, and a "lightning round" presentation (two minutes, three images) on the project at the 2010 NEH Project Directors Meeting in Washington, D.C., on 28 September 2010. Alongside these presentations, the team also distributed an announcement to academic sites to mark the publication of the revised edition of the Letter from Bambarre in May 2011.
Figure 4. From left: Wisnicki and Schmitz discuss promoting
the project with Eric Meljac and Carly Dunn, two
graduate students at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.
The initial publication of Letter in July 2010 had received international print and broadcast coverage, a development that underscored continuing global interest in Livingstone. As a result, Harrison focused on both the project's academic and scientific dimensions in developing her press campaign for the publication of the 1871 Field Diary. She directed the team in drafting an appealing and dramatic press release with a strong public interest theme. She also sought to accommodate the complexity of the project and to acknowledge the broad range of collaborating individuals and institutions.
The promotional materials for the 1871 Field Diary included press releases aimed at the US and UK press, vivid project images, and briefing notes on key individuals, contributing institutions, and the scientific and literary dimensions of the project. This approach delivered a powerful story that focused on the human interest aspects of Livingstone's ordeals, while simultaneously providing sufficient biographical and technical information to satisfy the needs of the specialist press.
Figure 5. Toth lectures on the Livingstone project at Birkbeck,
University of London on 5 November 2011.
The Livingstone team decided to release full project results in a "beta" edition on 1 November 2011, a propitious date given that it translated to 1/11/11 (US) or 11/1/11 (UK). More importantly, the date roughly coincided with the 140th anniversary of the Livingstone-Stanley meeting. Although Livingstone and Stanley offered divergent dates for their meeting (a point of continuing scholarly debate), the 1 November date represented a compromise between Livingstone's original date of 28 October 1871 (in the 1872 Journal) and Stanley's of 3 November 1871 (in a despatch to the New York Herald). While developing the beta edition, the Livingstone team also made plans to release a formal "first edition" of project results in the spring of 2012.
Figure 6. From left: Knox, Harrison, Russell Clearie (Provost
of South Lanarkshire), Toth, and Wisnicki. Provost Clearie formally
welcomed and introduced the team prior to their presentation at
the David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre on 3 November 2011.
The team marked the beta release of project results with a British Academy-funded "UK tour" that included meetings with stakeholders and presentations at the National Library of Scotland on 1 November, the David Livingstone Centre on 3 November, the University of Oxford on 4 November, and Birkbeck, University of London on 5 November 2011. The team gave the presentations as panel lectures in which team members representing scholarship (Wisnicki), science (Knox), technology and conservation (Toth), outreach (Harrison), and postgraduate research (Simpson) described their roles on the project. These presentations solidified the project accomplishments for team members, stakeholders, and the public. By the last presentation, the team felt that they had decisively conveyed the significance of being the first people to restore and read Livingstone's diary since the nineteenth century.
Documents for Download
  1. Diary Headers, Inks, Details (Spreadsheet), Wisnicki, July 2011
  2. Bibliographical Details (Spreadsheet)
  3. Letter from Bambarre, Press Pack, July 2010
  4. Letter from Bambarre, Academic Release, May 2011
  5. Livingstone Team Presentations on Project
  6. Slide Show: NEH Project Directors "Lightning Round" Presentation, Wisnicki, September 2010
  7. Press Coverage, May 2010 - March 2012
  8. 1871 Field Diary, Academic Release, April 2012
Lessons & Future Projects