Thursday, 17 April 2014

We invent the thermos flask!

One of the most interesting things about working on our Biographical Register database project (see June 28 post) is that we discover the hugely varied careers our St Andrews alumni went on to enjoy in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  Amongst the thousands of doctors, ministers, lawyers and soldiers, there are some whose achievements are memorably different.  Doctor of Laws James Dewar, for example, turns out to have invented the thermos flask, and to have been the co-inventor of cordite. If you type "thermos flask" into our temporary search box, you can see a preview of the record we're preparing for him.  Or you could type in "declaration" and find the St Andrews alumni who were signatories to the American Declaration of Independence.  Please N.B. that the data is still very much in preparation at the moment and that this is just a rough and ready interface to help those of us doing the tagging work to locate records - but it gives an idea, I think, of how useful the searchable data will eventually be for researchers.  About 5,000 records are tagged to date - only another 6,000 to go!