Monday, 6 October 2014

Biographical Register Update

Our stylesheet now looks like this.

Lots of things have happened on the Biographical Register database project since I last posted about it in April. Wonderfully, we have now completed the tagging of all 11,700 records in the first volume of the Register, and have moved on to the painstaking task of checking and cleansing the data.  Final year Medieval History student Siri Hjelsvold, who came to the project in June as a Careers Service summer intern, is relishing this work and is moving on remarkably quickly with this “quality assurance” phase of the project.   

After discussion with staff in Research Computing, who are providing the technical infrastructure for it all, we have now added some new name classes to our stylesheet in Dreamweaver: _title – for Sir, Earl, Duke, HRH etc; _generation –for Jr, Snr, III, the First etc.; _toponymic-for the placename in someone’s name e.g. Earl of Rothesay. We have also added styles for links to other people.  This makes it possible, for example to suggest that “Peter Watson” and “Patrick Watson” are thought to be the same person.  We can now add some mark-up to express this:

 <p>Probably same as <a href="idp1417631460" class="identical">Peter</a> [Watson, United College] <span class="date">1754-1755</span> which see.</p>

The link HREF attribute contains the ID number of the person we are linking to, and the class attribute describes the relationship.
We are continuing, too, to come across fascinating facts about the career paths of some of our St Andrews graduates.  Several went on to play distinguished roles in the medical profession.  Robert Blair (M.D. 1785) was the Royal Navy surgeon who was instrumental in banishing scurvy by introducing lime juice to the navy diet.  Samuel Foart Simmons (M.D. 1788) became a doctor specializing in insanity cases, and treated King George III.  Isaac Wilson (M.D.1796) was the doctor who officiated at the birth of Queen Victoria, and became the first person she knighted in 1838.  William Beatty (M.D. 1817) was the surgeon on the H.M.S. Victory at the Battle of Trafalgar.  In other fields, William Bawdwen (B.A.1787), started the translation of The Doomsday Book, and for those keen on local St Andrews lore, Ada Hill Walker (student 1896-1898) was the artist who painted the well-known and well-loved pictures of St Andrews in the St Andrews New Picture House cinema in the 1930s. (See these on this slideshow from the Scottish Cinemas website).

The markup work may be exacting, but interesting tidbits of information such as these about our St Andrews predecessors keep us going!

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