Thursday, 8 September 2016

Radical protest, the North, and the spatial turn

Two updates from me:

1. Listen to The Matter of the North, an excellent series about the North of England, produced by Faith Lawrence for BBC Radio 4. I'm on the 'Radical North' programme, on Kersal Moor discussing the landscapes of Chartist meetings. Robert Poole is down the road on the site of Peterloo:

me & Melvyn Bragg on Kersal Moor, pic by BBC Radio 4

2.  Here's an exchange between Mike Sanders and me on the 'spatial turn' in his review of my book:

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Adventures in QGIS continued

I'll do some how to guides on my experiments in QGIS with historical maps soon, but here's an aide memoire of the tutorials I've used:

Creating a heat map:

Creating a contour map:

And to show that I'm just messing around and not doing this systematically, here's my failed experiment to warp geo-referenced maps onto a DEM (elevation) layer:

Apparently north Manchester has a mountain range according to this...

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

digital mapping experiments in QGIS

I've been messing around with QGIS and old maps of Manchester. My approach at the moment is 'layer as many maps as I can find' and 'add as many different databases as I can' on the map and see what happens. I'll add some contextual and analytical information in another post.

Here's a link to a simple map of Manchester (click on the expander on top right to layer a tile of Green's 1794 map on it), and the addresses of United Englishmen layered on it:
map of manchester united englishmen

There's a plugin in QGIS called QGIS2threejs which makes it easy to make elevations and buildings in 3D.
So here's my slightly strange attempt to make Murray's Mills in Ancoats, together with a pub and some terraces, into 3D:

3d buildings
Murray's Mills, Ancoats, in 3D

Another plugin allows you to draw cartograms.
Here's a gif comparing a straight map of Manchester police districts, coloured according to their population density in 1831, with a cartogram (i.e. the areal size and shape of each district is warped according to the density):

Cartogram of Manchester population density 1831

I'm also attempting to map all 600-odd subscribers to the Chartist Land Plan in 1847 from Manchester and Salford. It's been difficult because many of the addresses are spelled phonetically, are in the bits of Hulme and Chorlton that were obliterated by the Mancunian Way and post-war slum clearance, and also many addresses are courts and passages that are not marked on any map. But here's the current heat-map of addresses (c.400) that I have identified:

heat map
heatmap of Chartist land plan subscribers, 1847, in google fusion tables

And here is a heatmap (done in QGIS rather than google fusion tables) of cholera deaths & outbreaks in Hulme in 1850, layered on the 1849 OS map. The blue dots are Chartist subscribers.

heatmap cholera
Heatmap of cholera outbreak, Hulme, 1850, with Chartist land plan subscribers

Here's a Gif of my first attempt to reconstruct Falkner's Court, Ancoats, in 3D. The original map is from a cholera report of 1833.
Falkner's Court, Manchester, 1849

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Joseph Hanson

My biography of Joseph Hanson (1774-1811) of Strangeways Hall is now available on the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography site to view for free -

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

people called Napoleon

I'm doing some quick research on William Fitton, the ultra-radical of Royton, who had a son called Napoleon. He died in 1820, so I looked him up on FindMyPast, and to my amazement I found hundreds of people called Napoleon.

I searched for people called Napoleon who were born in 1803-5, i.e. at the height of the French invasion scares and peak propaganda against 'Old Boney'.

Even accounting for multiple entries, the results are astounding:

Find My entries for Napoleon, born 1803-5
Matt McCormack pointed me to the excellent work of Simon Bainbridge of Lancaster University - I've not got time to check what he's written on this topic to see if he's got an answer to why so many people were baptised with the name, but will do so as soon as I can.

It does question the patriotism thesis about the effectiveness of anti-French anti-Napoleonic propaganda. Even though we were all supposed to be against Old Boney, the Romantic appeal of a great leader obviously still had a great pull even during the peak invasion scares. Stuart Semmel in his book Napoleon and the British argues for a more nuanced approach to understanding how people viewed Napoleon, which was more complicated than the Gillray propaganda or Linda Colley's account of patriotism presumed.

I'm still a little confused why supposedly staunchly patriotic Anglican vicars would even agree to baptise children with the name of our central enemy - any ideas?

Update - on Twitter, Elodie Duche did a French comparison with people baptised Nelson at the same time, with equally intriguing results:

And Mark Crail did a quick grab of the data from Ancestry, and here is my map of 123 of the names he found:

View people baptised Napoleon in a full screen map

And here is a quick search of Old Bailey online for cases featuring Napoleons. There are 30 entries, though some are duplicate and some of the later 19th century ones appear to be French immigrants.

And Louise Falcini found this example from the workhouse registers on London Lives:

Friday, 13 May 2016

Short piece on the spaces of the Reform Bill crisis 1830-2

I've been adding 'off-cuts' that didn't manage to make it in the published book to my website. Here's a piece on the spaces of the Reform Bill crisis, 1830-2:

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

How to start digital history as a newbie

Today I took part in a really interesting webinar by Lancaster University Spatial Humanities on GIS for beginners - other speakers were Prof Ian Gregory (Lancaster) and Prof Anne Knowles (Maine), chaired by James Perry (Lancaster).

Here are my slides

Here is the video - do post your comments and ideas!