Time and place visualisation

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Images Time and Place Visulisation

The Challenge

The data is available on the NLW data pages:


The dataset contains all of the metadata for images which are part of the John Thomas, Tirlun Cymru (Welsh Landscapes) and PB Abery collections. The metadata has been converted from the source MARC format to EDM (Europeana Data Model). This set of data contains information relating the pictures to dates and places and this challenge is to create a visulisation which shows these images using either a timeline or on a map.

The Collections

The John Thomas collection

The John Thomas Photographic Collection consists of over 4,000 negatives taken by the photographer in north, mid and west Wales during the period ca.1863-ca. 1899. The subjects include portraits of both notable men and women in Welsh public life during the period, as well as portraits of ordinary people taken in the places he visited as a photographer. In addition to portraits he took photographs of landscapes and cityscapes in Wales and especially of locations significant in Welsh history. All these are represented in this rich collection.

John Thomas was a labourer's son from Cellan, Ceredigion. In 1853 he moved to Liverpool to work in a draper's shop. Over a period of ten years the work had a detrimental effect on his health and he was forced to find employment in the open air. Therefore, at the beginning of the 1860s, he became a traveller for a firm dealing in writing materials and photographs of famous people. At that time publishing and selling small photographs of celebrities (carte-de-visite photographs) was a very lucrative business. When he realised how few of the photographs he had to sell were of Welsh celebrities he undertook to change things himself. He learnt the rudiments of photography and in 1863 he began taking photographs of the famous by inviting a number of well-known preachers to sit for their portraits. The enterprise was a success and by 1867 he was confident enough to establish his own photographic business, The Cambrian Gallery. He worked as a photographer for about forty years, and during that time he travelled widely in north, mid and south Wales taking photographs of landscapes as well as people. When he retired from business a collection of over three thousand of his negatives was bought by Sir O M Edwards to illustrate the magazine Cymru. John Thomas had worked with OM for many years by supplying him with illustrations and articles for the magazine. OM paid the following tribute to him for help in illustrating the magazine, "... you can well understand my joy in receiving an offer of help from Mr John Thomas, in his own modest style. I knew that no-one has such a complete collection of views of Welsh historic sites. Whenever he visits a particular area, he adds to his collection the picturesque, famous or unusual that he finds there. His rich gallery has been made available to me to use with the warmest of welcomes... It is good to know that the Cambrian Gallery contains a collection of views from nearly every part of Wales, and of the characters who lived in those parts in recent years." (Translated from Welsh, Cymru 17 (1899), p.134). John Thomas died in October 1905.

Tirlun Cymru Collection

The Topographical and Landscape Prints at the National Library of Wales reflect the Library's interest in Welsh subject matter. Typical examples include a view of towns, castles, ecclesiastical buildings, manor houses, monuments, or innovative constructions like the bridge over the Menai Straits or at Pontypridd. The majority of the prints can be dated between 1750 and 1850. This period was significant for several reasons; firstly, it was during this time that many artists visited Wales and became increasingly interested in Welsh topography; secondly, because the production of printed material increased significantly during the period.

The collection of prints know as Tirlun Cymru = Welsh Landscape has been formed from the aquistions of the National Library of Wales since its establishment in 1907. The collection was previously in the custody of the Dept. of Pictures and Maps and now is part of the Dept. of Collection Services.

PB Abery Collection

Contains landscape, townscapes, churches, town and country scenes in the counties of Montgomery, Radnor and Brecknock and in the bordering counties of England. Also includes photographs of the Elan Valley dams and reservoirs. Title supplied by cataloguer.

P.B. Abery came to Builth Wells in 1898 from Folkestone in Kent, and became a noted and popular local photographer. He owned a photography studio in the town and was the official photographer for the Birmingham Water Works at the Elan Valley. He was also a regular contributor to the national daily newspapers, and the sporting and agricultural weeklies.

The Data

The dataset contains metadata in EDM format and there is a 1 to 1 match between xml file and image. An example record for the image:


is below:

<rdf:RDF xmlns:rdf="http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#" xmlns:dc="http://purl.org/dc/elements/1.1/" xmlns:dcterms="http://purl.org/dc/terms/" xmlns:ore="http://www.openarchives.org/ore/terms/" xmlns:doap="http://usefulinc.com/ns/doap#" xmlns:edm="http://www.europeana.eu/schemas/edm/" xmlns:svcs="http://rdfs.org/sioc/services#">
       <edm:ProvidedCHO rdf:about="http://hdl.handle.net/10107/1123400">
               <dc:title xml:lang="en">[The interior of the church, Manafon]</dc:title>
               <dc:title xml:lang="cy-GB">Y tu fewn i'r eglwys, Manafon Y tu fewn i'r eglwys, Manafon</dc:title>
               <dc:creator xml:lang="en">Thomas, John 1838-1905</dc:creator>
               <dcterms:spatial xml:lang="en">Manafon</dcterms:spatial>
               <dcterms:created xml:lang="en">[ca. 1885]</dcterms:created>
               <dc:description xml:lang="en">Shows church interior with pulpit and stained-glass window.</dc:description>
       <edm:WebResource rdf:about="http://dams.llgc.org.uk/iiif/2.0/image/1123400/full/512,/0/default.jpg">
                       <svcs:Service rdf:about="http://dams.llgc.org.uk/iiif/2.0/image/1123400">
                               <dcterms:conformsTo rdf:resource="http://iiif.io/api/image/2/level1.json"></dcterms:conformsTo>
                               <doap:implements rdf:resource="http://iiif.io/api/image"></doap:implements>
               <dcterms:isReferencedBy rdf:resource="http://dams.llgc.org.uk/iiif/2.0/1123400/manifest.json"></dcterms:isReferencedBy>
       <ore:Aggregation rdf:about="http://hdl.handle.net/10107/1123400#id">
               <edm:aggregatedCHO rdf:resource="http://hdl.handle.net/10107/1123400"></edm:aggregatedCHO>
               <edm:dataProvider>National Library of Wales</edm:dataProvider>
               <edm:isShownAt rdf:resource="http://hdl.handle.net/10107/1123400"></edm:isShownAt>
               <edm:isShownBy rdf:resource="http://dams.llgc.org.uk/iiif/2.0/image/1123400/full/512,/0/default.jpg"></edm:isShownBy>
               <edm:object rdf:resource="http://dams.llgc.org.uk/iiif/2.0/image/1123400/full/512,/0/default.jpg"></edm:object>
               <edm:provider>National Library of Wales</edm:provider>
               <edm:rights rdf:resource="http://creativecommons.org/licences/by-nc-nd/2.0/uk/"></edm:rights>

The record above is split into three sections:

  • ProvidedCHO - this is where the metadata about the image is held
* dc:title is the a short description of the image. This can be translated as can be seen above
* dcterms:created this is the date that the photograph was taken
* dcterms:spatial this is the location the photograph depicts
  • WebResource - this contains links to the image
* svcs:Service/@rdf:about this is a IIIF base identifier to the image
* dcterms:isReferencedBy this is the IIIF manifest that contains this image
  • Aggregation - this links the two previous sections together

More information on the IIIF links can be found at http://iiif.io. This is a standard that provides an API which allows the request of different sized images. The Manifest allows these images to be displayed in a viewer.

Note on Places: as mentioned above dcterms:spatial contains the place in text form. To convert this to a geo-reference that can be plotted on a map the string needs to be resolved with an external service. Ideally the external service provides Linked Open Data that can be connected to the record above. One example service that provides this is http://www.geonames.org/ and its API http://www.geonames.org/export/geonames-search.html.

Note on Dates: As can be seen in this example the dates aren't easily converted to standardised dates. This example contains '[ca. 1885]' which means:

  • ca stands for Circa or approximately and indicates the cataloguer was unsure of the exact date of the image but it was taken around 1885
  • The brackets indicate the cataloguer implied (worked it out) the date rather than had concrete information to work from.

--GlenRobson 10:18, 24 January 2017 (GMT)