Livingstone's 1871 Field Diary

A Multispectral Critical Edition

Project Planning
The U.S. National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) formally awarded the Livingstone team a Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant on 11 March 2010. The team’s grant application set the start date as 1 May 2010. Planning for the project began with the drafting of the grant application, but serious plans could not go forward until this grant announcement.
Setting the Stage
The team decided to travel to Scotland for the spectral imaging of Livingstone’s manuscript in mid-June 2010. This travel date necessitated that preparations begin from the moment of the announcement. The trustees of the David Livingstone Centre (DLC) had given the team preliminary permission for the project, but full written permission had now to be secured. A conservator would have to examine the manuscript and prepare it for imaging. The team had to select a site for the spectral imaging that met the technical requirements of the project. Finally, the team also needed to prepare a detailed imaging plan that included a Statement of Work (SOW) agreed on by all stakeholders, conduct a site survey, and secure the support of appropriate local personnel.
Figure 1. The David Livingstone Centre, Blantyre, Scotland.
After discussion with the DLC staff, the Livingstone team decided to carry out the imaging at a second site. The National Library of Scotland (NLS), being located an hour by car from the DLC, offered the perfect alternative. Wisnicki had previously discussed the project with Alison Metcalfe, Manuscripts Curator at the National Library of Scotland (NLS), and together Wisnicki and Metcalfe now formalized the role of the NLS as a project partner. There were several advantages to this relationship. The library could provide the facilities and personnel needed to adequately support the project, and the library holds the largest number of Livingstone materials in the world. Should the imaging run ahead of schedule, Livingstone materials from the NLS could be spectrally imaged without added cost.
Figure 2. The National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh.
Permission and Conservation
With the location secured, Wisnicki now wrote letters to the DLC trustees and the Livingstone family for permission to transport, spectrally image, and digitally publish the relevant materials from the DLC and related materials at the NLS. Neil Imray Livingstone Wilson and Ian Livingstone proved to be very enthusiastic about the project and kindly granted permission on behalf of, respectively, the Livingstone family and the DLC trustees.
Figure 3. David Livingstone in 1857.
The National Trust for Scotland, in turn, arranged for Helen Creasy, Paper and Photograph Conservator at the Scottish Conservation Studio, to prepare the DLC materials for imaging, an activity covered by the team’s NEH grant. Creasy’s work included stabilizing documents for handling, repairing all edge tears and tears along central fold lines, reattaching a detached page, and supporting manuscript weaknesses using very light-weight Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste. She also photographed the documents before and after treatment, and secured and packed them for transportation. Kate Kidd, conservator at the NLS, evaluated the related NLS materials and found that they needed only minimal conservation, which the NLS provided pro bono.
Project Planning
Project planning took up the majority of time prior to the team’s departure for Scotland. Michael B. Toth, Program Manager for the Livingstone project, supervised this planning with strategic support from Wisnicki, Metcalfe, Robert Jackson (Preservation and Conservation Manager at the NLS), and other team members. Toth’s work included developing a detailed imaging plan that outlined 1) an Assessment and Pilot Phase, 2) a Planning Phase, 3) an Imaging and Processing Phase, and 4) a Data Management Phase. Toth broke up each of these phases into discrete tasks, determined how many days would be required for each, and allocated work accordingly. Toth also prepared a series of documents for team members that foregrounded the relationships between the different tasks.
Figure 4. Toth while directing one of the many
Livingstone project team teleconferences.
Alongside this work, Toth explored available imaging options. He circulated documents that detailed imaging schedule and on-site processing possibilities, and that highlighted potential issues. A follow-up imaging draft plan enumerated the specific pages to be imaged, proposed a day-by-day imaging schedule, and sketched a data delivery schedule. Toth also used email, phone calls, and teleconferences to coordinate activities between NLS staff, team members traveling from the U.S. to Scotland (Wisnicki, Bill Christens-Barry, Roger L. Easton Jr., and Ken Boydston), and team members that would provide support from the U.S. (Keith Knox, Doug Emery).
These activities culminated in a formal Statement of Work (SOW) that set out:
  1. Project scope
  2. Program Management
  3. Imaging Tasks
  4. Metadata Preparation
  5. Deliverable Items
  6. Key Personnel
  7. Permissions
  8. Institutional Requirements
  9. Schedule
Toth developed this document in close collaboration with Wisnicki and representatives of the NLS. The drafting process served to introduce NLS staff to the rubrics of multispectral imaging and underscored key requirements of the Livingstone team in Scotland, including the need to recruit and train local personnel for basic operation of the imaging system.
Just prior to departure, Toth developed a plan for transporting equipment to Scotland, and created a site survey checklist for team members who intended to visit the NLS in advance of the imaging sessions. In addition, days before the team left, the British Academy announced that it had awarded the team a Small Research Grant, which provided both for an enhanced site survey and helped defray other travel costs.
Documents for Download
  1. Scottish Conservation Studio Treatment Proposal, May 2010
  2. Scottish Conservation Studio Treatment Report, June 2010
  3. Livingstone Document Images Before-After Treatment
  4. Livingstone Diary Imaging Plan, Toth, March 2010
  5. Livingstone Diary Imaging Spreadsheet, Toth, March 2010
  6. Livingstone Imaging Options, Toth, April 2010
  7. Email: Toth to Jackson, 7 April 2010
  8. Email: Toth to Wisnicki, 20 May 2010
  9. Livingstone Imaging Draft Plan, Toth, May 2010
  10. Livingstone Project SOW, May 2010
  11. Livingstone Equipment Plan, Toth, June 2010
  12. Livingstone Equipment List for NLS, June 2010
  13. Email Toth to Christens-Barry and Easton, 11 June 2010
Spectral Imaging in Scotland