European medieval and WWI history digital archiving project gets €6.5m in EU funding

8 Jun 2012

A stained-glass window from the French medieval Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres depicting a blacksmith putting a horseshoe on a horse. Image from Wikimedia Commons

Trinity College Dublin (TCD) is leading a four-year collaborative project called CENDARI to digitise geographically dispersed historical data from the medieval European era and from World War I so scholars, and eventually the public, will be able to access everything from illuminated medieval gospels to WWI propaganda using one online portal.

The CENDARI project, which stands for Collaborative European Digital Archive Infrastructure, has just been awarded €6.5m by the European Commission’s Seventh Framework Programme to carry out the project.

Apparently the aim is for CENDARI to provide a model that is not only relevant for the digitisation of historical data, but also for other scientific fields, such as biomedical images and environmental data.

Dr Jennifer Edmond of the Trinity Long Room hub at TCD is heading the CENDARI project, which also has collaborative partners in archives, libraries and universities in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic, Serbia and Netherlands.

CENDARI will firstly hone in on two pilot areas of research, the First World War and the medieval era in Europe. The aim of the project is to provide a unique research platform for accessing and investigating historical data across national and institutional boundaries.

CENDARI will incorporate tools and workspaces allowing researchers to engage with geographically dispersed archives via multilingual searches, custom visualisations, shared research and collaboration spaces, as well as personalised virtual environments.

For example, historians, scholars and researchers will have access primary archival materials, from illuminated medieval gospels to propaganda leaflets dropped over Germany in 1917, according to TCD’s Dr Jennifer Edmond.

“Projects like CENDARI not only push the barriers of what e-infrastructures are able to do, but they also bring new users into the digital humanities community,” she said today.

She said the digital archiving project will introduce skills necessary to the next generation of young researchers, drawing young people into the advanced study of history.

“As the data it contains will be easy to adapt for public audiences, CENDARI will also give all citizens a platform to expand their understanding of their place within the European community,” added Edmond.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic