Exploring Victorian Data

In sheer content, nineteenth-century newspapers were the first big data. NC State researchers are using computational techniques to uncover patterns in how information, images, and ideas circulated in the historical press.

With the help of the NCSU Libraries, NC State researchers acquired content mining rights for 7 terabytes of digitized historical newspapers from collections at the British Library, made available through Gale Cengage’s database of Nineteenth-Century British Newspapers. This site reports on an ongoing interdisciplinary partnership to discover what computational methods can help researchers pursue new historical questions about the circulation of ideas, mass visual culture, and the patterns of text and image in the nineteenth-century press. To date, that research has centered around two primary projects: Victorian Information Networks, in partnership with the Viral Texts project at Northeastern University, identifies patterns of reprinting within this multi-million page corpus of British newspapers. Illustrated Image Analytics develops computer vision techniques to extract, sort, and analyze the thousands of images published in Victorian illustrated newspapers. Directed by Dr. Paul Fyfe, this research has been generously sponsored by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Laboratory for Analytic Sciences, and the Department of English.

(Image credit: Luke McKernan, “Edges: Newspaper volumes at British Library Newspapers, Colindale, north London.” 26 Sept 2013. Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0)