Although this is a bit late, it’s a new year so it’s time for a new update on the ADM 8 Database project! And we have some lovely updates to make indeed.
Well we have a couple of achievements. The first is that I’ve gone through the Officer’s Table using ADM 10/10 and ADM 10/15 and I’ve been able to correct a number of errors in the officers in that table. In most cases, collapsing two or more records into one true person. In a few cases, dividing one into two (father, and son, serving on the same ship a month apart). This is great because it means the accurate in the database is substantially more accurate than it was before. The prompting for this was a presentation I recently did for the King’s Maritime History Seminar Series, for which I created graphs such as the following to show changes in the connections between serving officers, year to year.
I will at some point be writing my presentation up into a blog post for this site. But, the future of this database project- when it comes to doing things beyond the basic 4 research functions- will be in making the database available for download so anybody can take a run at it with R or whatever analytical tools they want to use. But that will be at some point in the future when we have more reports transcribed, and have duplicated the database so it has all the important information, without all the useless stuff used for transcription/displaying the data for this website.
The other major update is that I have rewritten the transcription interface so that we can now more accurately accommodate reports that have more than one section/structure, so that only the necessary columns are shown. As part of these updates, we’ll also have all the categories in the order shown in the documents, plus columns will have the titles shown in the documents as well. So the representation of reports will be much better than before.
Now: The Future Plans.
First, transcribing a whole bunch more reports. With the rewritten transcription interface, Larry Hartzell is eager to get to work digging into the remaining reports from Volume 1, and then moving into Volume 2. You all know how fast he is, so I think that by the end of 2022 we’ll likely have all the deployment reports transcribed and live.
In terms of my work directly, my next goal is to rewrite the Research Interface (which is how people view the data in the database). We’re already ready to deploy the new “get and view report” function. But there are still some substantial changes to make- the most import of which is that I’ll change the mode that passes information from page to page- so that when researchers/users call up an individual report, or look up the lines for a single ship, officer, or location, it will use Get instead of Post. This is important because it means that each of these functions- tied to individual reports, officers, locations, and ships- will have a unique identifier so that researchers can bookmark links, share links, or use them in footnotes. From a research point of view, it will make the database a lot more usable for publication.
Preparing the database for release/download is a major long term goal, but that will happen after we get at least the fleet list reports also included in the database. So that will be 2023, almost certainly not earlier.
Still, I’m very pleased with the improvements to the database and the code. This bodes very well for the future usefulness of this research tool.