Book History and eMOP News

Dr. Todd Samuelson, our eMOP book history consultant, recently completed his eMOP research trip to Amsterdam, Antwerp, and London. After intensive discussion and preparation with the eMOP team, he travelled to Europe in November 2013 to hunt for information and pictures of early modern specimen sheets. Specimen sheets, or type specimens, were circulated in the early modern period to advertise available typefaces for printers, and specimen sheets constitute a number of the OCR training that the eMOP team has completed over the past few months.

Dr. Samuelson has agreed to publish a series of blog posts detailing his research trip, findings, methodology, and some beautiful photos on the eMOP blog. The first post is entitled “Historical Typemaking and its Artifacts.”

Visit the main blog page now to see the latest!

Dr. Todd Samuelson is Assistant Professor and Rare Books and Manuscripts Curator at Cushing Memorial Library at Texas A&M University. For the Early Modern OCR Project, Dr. Samuelson has been consulting on our early modern printers and publishers database, the structuring of our OCR training on specific early modern typefaces, and theories of font identification and research.

eMOP Interim Report Now Available Online

The Early Modern OCR Project (eMOP) has submitted their interim report to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and we now have permission to post sections of that report online. Prepared by PI and IDHMC Director, Dr. Laura Mandell, and eMOP co-project managers for year two, Matthew Christy and Elizabeth Grumbach, this report details work performed during the first year of the grant project.

Many thanks go to the entire eMOP team for an excellent, productive first year, and the IDHMC would especially like to thank Dr. Jacob Heil, eMOP project manager for year one of the grant.

Read the report online now, or download a PDF copy! To read about our book history and typeface research, OCR engine experiments, and data management problems and solutions, visit the eMOP blog post here (

We’d love to hear from you! Questions about eMOP? Want to discuss one of our research topics or software mods? Tweet the IDHMC: @IDHMC_Nexus or post a comment on the eMOP blog (


HVS Grand Opening: It’s Showtime!

Today is the Grand Opening for the Humanities Visualization Space at IDHMC. The demos have started, and will run again at 11:30, 1:00, 2:30 and 4:30.

Pre-demo, Laura Mandell and Maura Ives working with images from the Blake archive:

Laura demonstrating New Radial this morning:

Tim Duguid, IDHMC/ARC Postdoctoral Researcher, showing Van Gogh’s paintings organized by month of composition and brightness: TimDemo.pic

Phil Galanter, Assistant Professor in TAMU’s Department of Visualization, explaining the Game of Life: PhilDemo

IDHMC Awards DHSI Tuition Scholarships

The IDHMC is pleased to announce the recipients of Digital Humanities Summer Institute Tuiion Scholarships for 2014:

Laura Perrings (ENGL); Rubria Rocha De Luna (HISP); Robin Roe (HIST); Daniel Schwartz (HIST); Katayoun Torabi (ENGL).

In addition, Heidi Campbell (COMM) and Nigel Lepianka (ENGL) were awarded scholarships from DHSI directly.

Congratulations to all of you!

Texas A&M and the IDHMC have been sponsors of DHSI since 2010. Held each June at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, DHSI is an internationally recognized, interdisciplinary venue for the exploration of computer technologies and their impact on teaching, research, and the creation and preservation of digital tools and resources.

Would you like to join the Aggie DHSI posse? Our sponsorship allows anyone from Texas A&M to receive a discounted rate on registration (see “Register as a Member of a Partner/Sponsor Group” on the DHSI registration page).

Visualizing Big Data

The wonderful Liz Grumbach, project manager for ARC (,


and I (Laura Mandell) are here at North Carolina State University where we just received a tour of the most amazing new library, the James B. Hunt, Jr. Library: Markus Wust ( was our guide as well as big data muse along with Matthew Davis. Markus and Matt, former graduate fellow of the IDHMC and current CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow at NCSU, created a visualization of search returns from the ARC catalog, containing over 1.5 million metadata records that link to digital objects.

When you search that many items, you tend to get search returns numbering in the 20,000s — not a list you can really read through, unless you have a few years:

Screen Shot 2013-11-15 at 3.34.20 AM

So Markus and Matt made us the most amazing visualization tool usable on their giant touch screen (one among many of the amazing visualization resources available at the Hunt Library):




Next, Jon Saklofske of Acadia University demonstrated his NewRadial tool for further searching, collecting, and annotating:



These tools will be usable at Texas A&M, with the ARC Catalog AND the 45 million pages that we will adding to it after completion next year of the eMOP Project:


Thanks to the most valiant efforts of Phil Galanter, Nancy Sumpter, and Bryan Jackson,
we are building a data visualization screen at the IDHMC:


With any luck, we will be able to come up with additional funds to add touch-screen capacity. Our wildest dreams include this: you search through 45 million pages of texts published on all topics between 1473 and 1800. Using Matt and Markus’s tool, you visualize categories of returns. You hit one of categories with your finger, and a message comes up: “View in NewRadial?” You say, yes. You are suddenly looking at big text images, all arranged according to your searches. Your students, 7 or 8 of them, are in the room with you. They have handhelds, and they have been searching the 45 million pages using NewRadial, too. They have texts and searches on their screens. Using the new feature added to touch technology by Andruid Kerne, each of the students touch their handhelds to the screen and, with the swipe of a finger upward, transfer the searches and texts on their screens into iFrames on the big screen. Now we are all talking and comparing—walking around, pointing, pulling images next to each other—about our cultural heritage, about the human record centuries old. It will be the newest thing!

DHSI Course on Digital Aggregation + Tuition Scholarships

The Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture and the Advanced Research Consortium (ARC) are pleased to announce that the DHSI course on Digital Project Aggregation with ARC and Collex will be co-taught by IDHMC Director Dr. Laura Mandell and MESA Co-Director Dr. Tim Stinson (NSCU).

The description for the DHSI course has been revised to reflect the ideas and principles that Drs. Mandell and Stinson will be discussing with attendees, alongside a focus on practical solutions to digital project aggregation challenges that ARC and Collex provide. The revised course description can be found online here at the DHSI site.

We encourage project managers, directors, developers, and institutional personnel to attend this introduction to large-scale digital project aggregation. Please contact if you have any questions about the course.

DHSI Tuition Scholarships are now available for this course!
We are very pleased to announce that DHSI and ARC are partnering to offer several tuition scholarships for this DHSI course. Tuition scholarships are awarded on a rolling basis, so please consider applying as soon as possible. More information can be found here at the DHSI scholarships page.

The Digital Humanities Summer Institute is a week-long event, at the University of Victoria, that brings together faculty, staff, and students from the humanities for intensive coursework, presentations, lectures, and discussion. This year’s event will be held June 2-6, 2014.




IDHMC Undergraduate Internships for Spring 2014: Deadline Approaching!

Would you like to learn more about digital humanities? If so, you might be one of our next interns!

The IDHMC sponsors unpaid internships for undergraduate students in Communication, Computer Science, English, Education, History, Hispanic Studies, Modern Languages, Visualization, and other fields relevant to the digital humanities projects we support. As an intern, you will work up to ten hours per week (depending on your schedule) on innovative research projects in a variety of disciplines. Most projects include technical training in CMS software (such as Drupal or WordPress), digital collection software (such as Omeka), text encoding using the oXygen XML editor, and server-side programming and development including PHP, HTML/CSS, and other tools. We also welcome students who can assist with web development, graphic design and publicity. Since training is part of the internship, we do not require prior experience – only willingness to learn new things and to think about humanities scholarship in new ways. If you are accepted, you may be able to obtain course credit for your internship. We will work with you to find out what your options are.

The deadline for Spring internships is NOVEMBER 27. Click on the Internship Guidelines for details about the application process and the projects you might work on. And if you have any questions, please contact Dr. Maura Ives.

eMOP news: blog post on post-processing workflow

Over the past few weeks, IDHMC lead programmer Matt Christy and I have been settling into our new roles as eMOP co-project managers for Year Two of the Mellon grant project. We’ve also begun looking towards the future, having a series of planning meetings with our post-processing collaborators.

Look forward to several new things from eMOP this fall, including the release of Franken+, a tool created by eMOP graduate student researcher Bryan Tarpley (which allows for easier creation of font training libraries).

In the meantime, check out our news post about OCR post-processing and eMOP triage at the eMOP website. Make sure to bookmark the eMOP blog roll and software page for current and future posts by the team.

-Liz Grumbach

Scaredy Cat?

To kick off the beginning of October here at the IDHMC, we will be posting some Halloween-themed blogs throughout the month. Today we will be looking at the mystery behind black cats and where they got the ‘bad rap’ they hold to this day. Be sure to check out 18th Connect to find out more information and discover more amazing artifacts in the database!

animated cat gif


Bastet, Egyptian cat goddess of the Second Dynasty

Contrary to modern superstitions, the black cat was originally seen as a symbol of luck and prosperity dating back to 2890 BC in Egypt. In that time, the cat goddess Bastet was worshipped by Egyptians; she was believed to bless those who hosted black cats in their homes.


King Charles I of England, 1625-1649






Over 4,000 years later, Charles I of England supposedly treasured a black cat in his home to bring him good luck.The story goes that the day Charles’ cat passed away, he claimed that his luck was gone and was arrested for treason the next day (March 1641).

black cat

Witch and a Black Cat, by Unknown, from “The Picture Magazine”, 1894


Despite these positive associations, black cats became symbols of witchcraft and evil beginning in the late Middle Ages throughout the Renaissance and Puritan era. Black cats were drowned and killed on spot as they were considered inherently evil and agents of Satan. As the celebration of All Hallow’s Eve gradually turned into the tradition we know today, black cats and witches became synonymous with October and Halloween festivities.

salem gif

So whether you believe that they will bring you good luck or misfortune, it is clear black cats have an interesting and mysterious history that continues to fascinate cultures to this day.

cat gif

Have more interest in the history and lore of black cats? Be sure to visit 18th Connect to find various images, poems, and historical documents that revolve around this mysterious (and nefarious) animal.

Images provided by the New York Library Digital Collection


Written by Taylor Phillips

Digital Humanities Faculty Position – Updated 2014

Texas A&M University seeks to hire a dynamic researcher with an established record in digital humanities research and/or humanities, artistic, or information visualization to participate in establishing an interdisciplinary Institute for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture (IDHMC). Currently an “initiative,” the IDHMC ( will become an Institute upon approval by the Texas A&M University System Board of Regents.  The IDHMC has been designated one of eight Texas A&M Initial University Multidisciplinary Research Initiatives and thus is the recipient of substantial start-up funding. The IDHMC recently received an award from the Mellon foundation for $734,000 to fund two years of collaborative research. The rank for this tenure-track faculty position is open but experienced researchers are sought.

Candidates are invited from a wide variety of scholarly backgrounds for this position, including, but not limited to areas within our College of Liberal Arts (all Humanities subjects), University Libraries, Department of Visualization, College of Education and Human Development, and Department of Computer Science and Engineering.  Some potential research specializations include digital humanities within a humanities discipline; computational linguistics and corpus linguistics; data-mining and/or natural language processing; artistic, information, and scientific visualization; library, archival, and information science; media studies and communication; physical computing/tangible computing; and human-computer interaction.  The IDHMC supports interdisciplinary scholarly and creative work that broadly explores the relationship between computing technologies and culture.  We are interested in researchers who combine critical thinking with design, creativity, or production in their research and who are willing to shape the emerging direction of this center by galvanizing faculty, graduate students, programmers, and/or digital librarians across a span of colleges in Texas A&M University.  A Ph.D., MFA, MLS, or equivalent in achievement is required.

The scholar would have access to IDHMC’s infrastructure and labs, including the Humanities Visualization Space, located in a wing of the new Liberal Arts, Arts, and Humanities Building.  He or she would receive substantial startup funding to create a research lab. The IDHMC researcher will have an outstanding research, scholarly, or artistic record in digital humanities, visualization, digital media, digital cultures, and/or social innovation with respect to new media, including experience in interdisciplinary, collaborative research and in obtaining grant funding. The record of achievement must be sufficient for receiving tenure in the candidate’s home discipline, before or after arrival, depending upon the candidate’s starting rank.  The appointment will be made in the College of Liberal Arts, Architecture, Engineering, Education, or University Libraries.  The individual appointed to this position is expected to pursue supplemental funding from external agencies (e.g., NEH, Mellon, ACLS, NEA, NSF, etc.). Classroom teaching is also expected in the successful candidate’s home department.

Texas A&M University already supports a variety of high-profile and emerging projects involving digital humanities ( and offers a Digital Humanities Certificate (  A copy of the whitepaper that established the IDHMC is available (

Minorities and women are strongly encouraged to apply. Texas A&M is an AA/EEO employer, is deeply committed to diversity, and responds to the needs of dual-career couples.   Please send a letter of interest. Applications will be reviewed beginning November 1 and will be considered until the position is filled. Applicants should send a letter of interest, current CV, and a list of references to:

Professor Laura Mandell
Director, Initiative for Digital Humanities, Media, and Culture
Department of English
4227 TAMU
College, Station, TX 77843-4227