Mapping Crime beyond the John Johnson Collection
Of the five sections in the John Johnson Collection selected for inclusion in the new online resource The John Johnson Collection: an Archive of Printed Ephemera, the Crimes, Murders and Executions section is one of the most popular and most often consulted, providing documentary evidence which supports research in various aspects of social history: the judicial system and its sentences; public attitudes to crime and punishment; women and crime; the nature of contemporary reporting; and the practices associated with street printing during the period. This section of the resource comprises some 1,500 detailed catalogue records, all with associated digital images, and includes both broadsides and pamphlets. Further to material delivered through The John Johnson Collection, there are several hundred digital surrogates of broadside ballads relating to crime freely available through the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads resource, created over a decade ago with funding from the NFF Specialised Research Collections Initiative.
The Mapping Crime project will build on the work previously undertaken for both these enterprises by mapping individual records in each to the appropriate entries in existing online resources that contain references, citations or other related material, thereby offering users the scope to more easily explore themes and narratives encountered in The John Johnson Collection and the Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads. Essentially, the project will guide researchers to other information directly related to their line of enquiry, and allow them to build connections or follow trails between different resources. The three main open access resources to which the project will provide links are the Old Bailey Proceedings Online, Harvard Law School Library’s digitized broadside collections, Dying Speeches and Bloody Murders, and the Newgate Calendar, hosted by the Tarlton Law Library at the University of Texas at Austin. The proprietors of all three of these services have been approached and provided with an outline of the proposal, and each has expressed its willingness to support the proposal. The Bodleian will also endeavour to identify other open access resources with associated material during the course of the project, and to establish links as appropriate. Meanwhile, a series of illustrated case studies will be published online to demonstrate how research can be supported through exploration of these combined resources.
The potential for mapping to restricted-access resources will also be investigated. Like The John Johnson Collection, many resources have been developed in collaboration with commercial partners and mapping between them is necessarily more complex; in particular, the project will investigate the means by which The John Johnson Collection might also be able to map to resources such as 19th-century British Library Newspapers and 19th-century UK Periodicals in the future.