Livingstone's 1871 Field Diary

A Multispectral Critical Edition

Spectral Imaging in Scotland: Personnel and Activities
The Livingstone team spent a week and a half in Edinburgh (18 June, then 24 June to 3 July 2010). Team members arrived and took part in activities according to the following schedule:
Date Activity File Prefix of Folia Imaged Personnel External Visitors
18 June, Fri site survey Christens-Barry, Easton (en route to other work in Europe)
24 June, Thur site survey / initial set-up Wisnicki Suzanne Lamb (NTS)
25 June, Fri complete set up / initial imaging NLS10701, NLS10707, NLS10768, DLC1120b Wisnicki, Toth, Boydston, Simpson
26 June, Sat imaging DLC297c, DLC297b, DLC297e Wisnicki, Toth, Boydston, Easton, Simpson
27 June, Sun
28 June, Mon imaging NLS10703, DLC297d Wisnicki, Toth, Boydston, Easton, Christens-Barry, Simpson Anne Martin (DLC)
29 June, Tue imaging NLS10703, DLC297a Wisnicki, Toth, Boydston, Easton, Christens-Barry, Simpson Karen Carruthers (DLC), Ian Riches (NTS), John Sinclair (NTS), Suzanne Lamb (NTS)
30 June, Wed imaging DLC297a, NLS10703 [NLS72.1.1] Toth, Boydston, Easton, Christens-Barry, Simpson
1 July, Thur imaging DLC297e, DLC1120b, NLS10701, NLS10768, DLC297c, [NLS42237] Wisnicki, Harrison, Toth, Boydston, Easton, Christens-Barry, Simpson Karen Carruthers (DLC)
2 July, Fri imaging [NLS43325], [NLS43327], [NLS43408] Wisnicki, Harrison, Toth, Easton, Christens-Barry, Simpson
3 July, Sat pack up equipment Toth, Easton, Christens-Barry,
Note: Folia marked with square brackets are non-Livingstone manuscripts imaged at request of the NLS.
In addition, the team received regular assistance from NLS staff, including Alison Metcalfe, Rab Jackson, George Morrison, Kate Kidd, and Sally Todd.
Figure 1. Alison Metcalfe, Manuscripts Curator at the NLS, looks over the pages of the 1870 and 1871 Field Diaries held by the NLS.
During the sessions, Wisnicki also took a day off (30 June) to travel up to Aberdeen where he met with historian Roy Bridges. Professor Bridges’s pioneering studies of the manuscripts of Victorian explorers of Africa – Livingstone in particular – had provided one of the key inspirations for Wisnicki to take forward his work on the diary. The visit allowed Wisnicki to meet Professor Bridges and describe the objectives of the spectral imaging project. Professor Bridges, in turn, furnished Wisnicki with a number of articles and other items – many of them unpublished – that would be useful to Wisnicki’s research on the 1871 Field Diary.
Imaging Schedule and Objectives
In planning for the spectral imaging sessions, the team allowed for two different scenarios. Imaging the folia with the file prefixes DLC297b and DLC297c, the core of the 1871 Field Diary, would take up the whole time in the worst-case scenario. Livingstone had used his improvised red ink on these folia. The newspaper pages over which he wrote had deteriorated over time. The pages had been laminated with a heat-set document repair tissue, a factor that compromised legibility and had the potential to impede spectral imaging and processing. Finally, the average page size (10 x 12 inches) suggested that each would have to be imaged in two segments and imaging time would be doubled if the imaging conditions at the NLS were not ideal.
Figures 2, 3, 4. Left: Livingstone sample, 6.6x magnification. Center: Livingstone sample (above), another laminate (below), 0.6x magnification. Right: Livingstone sample (above), another laminate (below), 1.2x magnification. Images produced by Fenella France (Library of Congress).
None of these issues would emerge in the best-case scenario. Imaging of the DLC297b and DLC297c folia would proceed smoothly, without any compromise in quality, and the team would have time to image at least a portion of the additional manuscript pages. There was reason to hope for this scenario. The team had collected a small sample of the laminate on DLC297b and DLC297c in October 2009. Subsequent comparative analysis by Fenella France, Research Chemist at the U.S. Library of Congress (LoC), using another sample at the LoC with a known spectral response helped the team understand some focus issues associated with imaging laminated documents. In addition, Easton had processed some of the low-resolution, unregistered spectral images collected in October 2009, and the results were promising. Finally, in Scotland the team could also draw on the experience of working with the Letter from Bambarre.
Figures 5, 6, 7. Livingstone, 1871 Field Diary, 297b/160, detail. The low-resolution "raw" and processed PCA spectral images resulting
from the team's initial visit to the DLC, Oct. 2009.
As a result, the team balanced the schedule and cost risks and set their sights on the best-case scenario, a highly desirable outcome given the effort and expense involved in coordinating schedules, securing permissions, arranging facilities, and bringing equipment and personnel to Scotland. As a test run, the team spent most of the first imaging session (24 June) on letters and diary pages composed with the same materials as the Letter from Bambarre or with the same ink as the 1871 Field Diary. The experiment proved a full success, with no issues coming into play, so on the second day, a Saturday, the team moved to the DLC297b and DLC297c folia. Again, none of the anticipated issues arose, and the team not only completed the entire run of these folia, but also those of DLC297e. This development put the team five days ahead of schedule.
Figure 8. Members of the Livingstone team spent their off day
during the imaging sessions – Sunday, 27 June 2011 – climbing
Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh. Having just moved five days ahead
of schedule, they were in a rather jubilant mood.
The team moved to additional DLC and NLS pages in the following days. By capturing these images, the team ultimately doubled its anticipated results and laid the groundwork for the next phase of the project at no added cost. In fact, the team ran so far ahead of schedule that they concluded the imaging sessions by spectrally imaging a number of sample manuscript folia at the request of the NLS. These included two folia from a Gaelic 1467 manuscript by Dubhghall Albanach mac mhic Cathail (file prefix NLS72.1.1), a few letters from Lord Byron (NLS43325, NLS43327, and NLS43408), and the entire text of Sir John Franklin’s 1821 Field Diary (NLS42237).
Figure 9. Wisnicki examines a page of the 1871 Field Diary in blue light.
The success and scope of this spectral imaging effort, therefore, which depended on a combination of foresight, preparation, team discipline, risk management, and luck, represents one of the major accomplishments of the David Livingstone Spectral Imaging Project.
Documents for Download
  1. Livingstone Laminate Comparative Analysis, France, January 2010
  2. DLC processed sample images, Easton, February 2010
  3. EurekaVision Imaging Systems Checklist
  4. Light Sources Spreadsheet, Christens-Barry
  5. Imaging Setup Diagram
  6. Raking Light Set Up, Toth, 28 June 2010
  7. List of Livingstone Folia for Imaging (Uncorrected), Wisnicki, June 2010
  8. Livingstone Spectral Imaging Log (Uncorrected), June-July 2010
  9. Program Management White Paper, Toth, July 2011
Image Processing