Imani and I worked with Professor Gamer, a graduate student, and Scott Enderle from the Digital Humanities wing of the library to digitize playbills from the 1800s in England. There is a pre-existing compendium of the playbills of the particular London stages from the 1660s-1800, but by focusing post-1800 and outside of London, we offer new information for academics to use in their research on English theatre, made easily accessible by a database. The other side of the project, which I did not work much on, was the creation of a database to present the playbills (with their information digitized by Imani and me to make finding individual playbills easier.)
This research experience taught me more about what is needed and new in humanities research. With the prominence of computers and the sharing of information they allow, digital databases become increasingly important in the research I want to pursue in my academic career. Before this summer, I had never really considered the underlying structures of databases and how they can be most efficiently utilized by researchers, but I now have a greater understanding of how to find materials that I will need and the ability to help other researchers by creating databases. I am sure I will take all of this to further my academic career.
The specific digitizing that I was performing, on nineteenth century playbills, also allowed me to gain greater understanding of English theatre history. While I did outside reading to gain an understanding of what I was typing and to greater explore how what I was working on intersected with my more specific interests, there is nothing quite like going through the day-to-day playbills of a locale to gain an understanding of the rhythms and patterns of the time. Itis these rhythms and patterns that teach us about what the English theatre was actually like, and I am very thankful to have greater understood this peculiar period of early modern history in a way I had never considered before.