Showing posts from 2016

3D mapping of Oldham landowners in 1829

I'm currently trying to make a 3D model of Dunn's map of Oldham in 1829.

Here are two versions:

It's easier to navigate on a touch screen. If you're on a standard PC then zoom in by pressing ctrl + shift and the up button.

Still work in progress as I haven't entered the whole of Dunn's index of landowners and occupants.

Quick summary of how to do it:
1. geo-reference the map in QGIS
2. draw the polygons of the buildings, remembering to add a column in attributes for number of floors. I've estimated this as I don't know the real heights, so for cottages I've put 2 floors, houses 3 floors and big buildings like factories and churches I've put 6 to make them stand out.
3. use the 'threejs' plugin in QGIS. This automatically converts the floor heights into the z co-ordinate - really easy. It makes it into a html fil…

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:

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

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...

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:

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:

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 densi…

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 -

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:

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 s…

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:

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

From analogue to digital history from Katrina Navickas

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

Peterloo workshop at the National Archives

On 31 March Robert Poole and I organised a workshop with the National Archives, giving people a chance to look at and transcribe original Home Office documents relating to the Peterloo Massacre of 1819.

Chirs Day, Home Office specialist at TNA, and our AHRC collaborative PhD student Nathan Bend also gave talks.

It was the first time, perhaps ever, that all the Home Office papers on the massacre were shown together in original, in the same place. Normally you have to access only to the poor quality (and effectively uncatalogued) microfilm of some of the documents, and certainly can't get all the different series out all on the table at once. This allowed us to compare the original hand-written petition by the Blanketeers to the Prince Regent with the printed version of the petition sent from London, and bring together the posters and prints (including one seized from a fairground man in Chudleigh, Devon) with the original correspondence and copies of the Manchester Observer.


A reformer's wife ought to be an heroine: my new article on the radical women of 1817

My new article is out in the next issue of History journal: 'A reformer's wife ought to be an heroine: Gender, Family and English Radicals Imprisoned under the Suspension of Habeas Corpus Act of 1817'.

It's about the correspondence between state prisoners arrested for high treason under the suspension of habeas corpus act of 1817 and their wives back home, trying to sustain the radical movement in their absence.

The letters are in the HO 42 series at the National Archives. 

Link to the publisher's website here:

Link to the pre-proof PDF copy here:

podcasts of my two seminar papers at the IHR

You can now access both seminar papers I did in the same week at the IHR.

1. Digital History seminar on my British Library Labs project:

2. Socialist History seminar on my new book. I think it's the better of the presentations that I've done about the main arguments about protest and the politics of space and place.

the politics of public space in 19th century England by Katrina Navickas from Katrina Navickas

Sheffield radicals felt the cold in 1817

I'm currently writing up an article on radical prisoners and penal reform, 1794-1820.

Here's an extract from the secret correspondence of the Home Office to the keeper of Winchester Gaol, 23 July 1817. It concerns the conditions afflicting William Wolstenholme and his sons, imprisoned on suspicion of high treason, under the suspension of habeas corpus act.

It having been represented to Lord Sidmouth that the workmen of that part of the Country from whence the Wolstenholmes come [Sheffield, West Riding of Yorkshire] are accustomed to have fires all the year round and to work by, and that they feel the privation when removed to the South where fires are not so constant...
i.e. the Yorkshiremen were used to being warm, and felt the cold down south! [or rather that they were Sheffield metalworkers used to working by a forge, but this still meant they felt the cold...]

learning coding as a digital newbie historian

Over the past few weeks, I've been following two sets of coding tutorials designed for beginners that might be useful for the historian.

First, I attended Adam Crymble's masterclass at the IHR on how to use Python to extract keywords from a text and geo-code the places. The lesson is on his Programming Historian - second is Mauricio Giraldo Arteaga's tutoral for the New York Public Library on creating online interactive maps using geojson with Leaflet and Mapbox Studio:

It took me a couple of weekends to get through the latter, and I finally achieved this result, with a little more tweaking and reading the Leaflet tutorials to work out how to layer more than one map on top of each other:

What's been my experience of following these tutorials? Good points: 
Tutorials are great because they do show growing aware…

Enclosure, commons and the meaning of place and privatisation

Two articles serendipitously appeared this week after my IHR seminar paper on Monday.

First, this article by Bradley Garrett about contemporary disputes in Lancaster over 'common' land:

Some quick observations:
My students should read this article when we study 17th and 18th century enclosure riots so that I can show them that such events weren't odd and purely historical, but still have resonance and indeed share the same sentiments and tacticsIndeed, those tactics seem awfully familiar to a historian of rural protest: 'In addition to filing an application for three well-trodden footpaths across the wood to be officially recognised, a council document records that “local people took exception” to the No Trespassing signs and “they disappeared”. Those signs that remained were subversively mutilated'.  A quote from the article about the company …

more social and spatial theory: David Harvey and beyond

my talk at the Digital History seminar, IHR, 2/2/16

Here is the link to the video of my talk on the Political Meetings Mapper project with the British Library at the Digital History seminar, IHR, 2 February -

I'm next speaking at the IHR at the Socialist History seminar on Monday 8 February.

interview with Chartist Ancestors blog

I've done an interview with the lovely Mark Crail for his fab Chartist Ancestors website -

Journal of Victorian Culture Online debate

I've contributed my thoughts to the many interesting responses to an article by Peter Andersson in the Journal of Victorian Culture:

I like the opportunity that the journal provides for immediate responses to published articles: it allows the debate to be much more 'live' and quick, rather than the old way of writing a longer and more convoluted response that would be published in subsequent printed issues.

Andersson is ostensibly critiquing the model of 'the civilising process' in 19th century history, but more generally is challenging the dominance of literary studies in Victorian studies. I also wanted to add to my post but didn't have the room that this is not a phenomenon confined to Victorianists alone - Regency scholars also suffer from the overbearing presence of Austen and the politeness of Bath, rather than the 'age of revolutions' which is what the …