Dating Spanish chapbooks: preliminary findings of a Digital Humanities project

The one-year project Spanish chapbooks 1700-1900 in CUDL: dating ephemeral literature, made possible by a Cambridge Humanities Research Grant (CHRG) with the support of Cambridge Digital Humanities, has come to an end (see our earlier blog post on the project here).

Don Juan de Flores: nuevo y curioso romance
Don Juan de Flores (item T52 in 1072.g.27 from the British Library)

The project team used VGG Image Search Engine (VISE), a free and open-source computer vision software developed by Oxford University’s Visual Geometry Group, to date items in a collection of Spanish chapbooks held in Cambridge University Library and the British Library and hosted jointly on the Cambridge University Digital Library (CUDL. See link here).

The recent end-of-project workshop Visual search for exploring and dating collections: lessons from Spanish chapbooks (see link here) highlighted the impact that image recognition and visual search can have for research on digitized library collections. It also provided an opportunity to learn more about how digital imaging applied to a collection of Spanish chapbooks can open research for humanities and social science scholars interested in social history, cultural studies, and the history of the book.

Links to the presentations and the documentation distributed to attendees are available below. The Spanish instance of VISE will be live until April 2023, and we would like as many people as possible to engage with the software and explore its potential for future projects.

The workshop stimulated fruitful discussions and exchange of ideas about block printing, ink, and trading of woodblocks between printers, amongst other topics. We found the feedback really valuable and would be glad to have any further questions or comments from you. Our contact details are on the introductory slides.

Introductory slides

Technical workflow slides

VISE tutorial

Spanish Chapbooks VISE

Sonia Morcillo

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