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About Us

Credits

This project is a joint project of La Trobe University, Curtin University, The University of New England and the University of Sydney. It is supported by funding from the Australian Research Council.

Those involved included (in Alphabetical Order)

Miriam Allan (Curtin University)
Tim Allender (University of Sydney)
Perihan Avdi (La Trobe University)
Adam Bowles (La Trobe University)
Howard Brasted (University of New England)
Peter Friedlander (La Trobe University)
Robin Jeffrey (La Trobe University)
John McGuire (Curtin University)
Andrew Messner (University of New England)
Bob Pokrant (Curtin University)
Anita Ray (La Trobe University)
Lisa Smith (La Trobe University)

A Brief History of this Website

This Website is the result of a project which developed out of an earlier project. It's also quite a complicated process, and has involved a lot of participants. In order to give some impression of how what is on this website came into being it's useful to consider a brief history of the project which led to its creation.

The first parts of this website to be completed, the online versions of the 1871 and 1891 census reports, were completed under an Australian Research Council funded Research Infrastructure and Equipment Facilities funded project entitled: 'Internationalising South Asian Scholarly Data', undertaken by South Asia Research Unit - Curtin University , Asian Studies at La Trobe University, Monash Asia Institute - Monash University and the The Asia Centre at the University of New England.

In 2002 La Trobe University, Curtin University of Technology, University of New England and the University of Sydney then put together an application for a Linkage Infrastructure and Equipment Facilities (LIEF) grant to the Australian Research Council which was successful and led to the beginning of the project in 2003.

Prof. John McGuire and Bob Pokrant of Curtin University of Technology chose to digitise the work by Wise now on this website of which they had a microfilm copy. This was scanned at La Trobe and then the OCR work on the document was done at Curtin.

Prof. Howard Brasted of The University of New England chose to digitise Mill's History. It was then found that an original edition of this was available in Western Australia which was then microfilmed there, the microfilm was then sent to La Trobe where it was digitised, and the digital files were sent to the University of New England where the OCR work on them was to be carried out.

Dr Tim Allender of the University of Sydney chose to digitise the Hunter Report on Education. It was found that there was a copy of this in the State Library of Victoria. La Trobe then negotiated with the State Library to have a digital copy of this made and the OCR work on this was then undertaken at the University of Sydney.

At La Trobe University Prof. Robin Jeffrey had identified Indian Census Reports as a key type of material to digitise. Although the first trial work on the 1891 census was done here, at La Trobe, by myself, it was apparent that it was probably a better option to get the census materials digitised by Paul Ell's centre for Data Digitisation at Belfast which specialised in this kind of work on census documents. So the scanning and OCR work on the remaining census documents was done in Belfast.

Also at La Trobe I (Peter Friedlander) chose to digitise Murray's guide to Madras and Bombay Presidencies. After making photocopies and scans of the documents, which were held at the State Library of Victoria, the OCR work was then done at La Trobe by a team of people including, Anita Ray, Adam Bowles, Perihan Avdi and Lisa Smith.

During October 2004 we were also able to get a copy of Captain Williamson's East India Vade Mecum which I scanned and did the OCR work on.

Peter Thompson, Information Systems and Resources Librarian, at the Heyward Library, La Trobe University Bendigo was inspired by seeing the site and is now working on the digitisation of a further guide book to India for the project from 1890 which is in the collection of the library at that campus of La Trobe.

It should also be pointed out that there are numerous complications in trying to digitise this kind of material and mount it on the web. In particular as we chose to mount the documents as individual pages of html it was neccessary to work out how to turn individual pages of html into database records and allow users to then access image files matched to the html pages. I did this by writing a computer program in Delphi which combines individual HTML files into database tables which can then be read by MySQL database program and PHP language interpreter which runs on the server which hosts the site. I had already learned how to write the similar specialised FileMaker web pages necessary to run an internet database server for the Chinese Heritage of Australian Federation website which also runs on this server.

Along the way we have also learned a lot. We have learned about OCR programs, and what amazing things they can do, but also about the strange problems they can create. We have learned about how to scan documents for the OCR process and about how to edit and convert documents between formats using PhotoShop. We have learned about how to edit HTML documents in DreamWeaver and the complexities of displaying even apparently simple pages of text on the web. Perhaps most importantly of all we have learned about the extraordinary range of issues which come up when you are trying to digitise 19th century documents and turn them into 21st century internet documents.

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Dr Peter G. Friedlander
Asian Studies
La Trobe University, VIC 3086
Australia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Page maintained by: Project Officer
Last Updated: 25 July, 2006



Project Partners
Curtin University
University of New England
La Trobe University
University of Sydney

Related Links
State Library of Victoria
DSAL Chicago