Monthly Archives: November 2018

Digitization of the missing late c19th volumes

Although there are many digitized collections of statutes available online, and indeed many digitizations of the same publication, I have not found a number of volumes from the last two decades of the nineteenth century.

Happily, I have now been able to digitize these volumes myself, courtesy of the Institute of Historical Research, who very kindly allowed me to photograph their copies.

I copied them using an iphone and a selfie stick designed by Sussex Unversity Humanities Lab. Althugh SHL are developing a whole workflow for DIY scanning and OCRing documents through a modern smartphone, I simply took pictures, and later ran them through Abbyy Finereader, as I have been doing with the digital volumes downloaded from Google Books and Internet Archive.

The whole procedure took a full work day, which I think quite quick given the size and number of the volumes; once I got into the rhythm, the apparatus held firm, I averaged about one volume an hour, photographing two pages at a time.

The text of these volumes can be found on github; some automated correcting has been carried out, but it is still all pretty raw, especially the tables. No doubt there will be pages I have inadvertently photographed twice, photographed poorly, or accidentally omitted, but by and large I think the quality is as good as can be expected. As with all the other volumes I have OCRd, the text is public domain.

Once again, my thanks to the IHR for access to their books and a desk at which to copy them, and to Sussex Humanities Lab for the selfie sticks. Without such help, ‘unofficial’, grassroots, lone scholar projects such as this one would not be able to develop their potential.

Tables of Statutes of the United Kingdom, 1801 to 1921.

I have now completed tables of the full, long titles of public statutes passed by the parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, from the Act of Union in 1801 up to 1921, when Ireland was divided and the south achieved independence. They can be found on github.  All these tables are public domain, and can be reused for any purpose and in any way one wishes.

I am currently working on generating tables of abbreviated titles of private and local acts for this period, using the annotated lists of local acts and private acts produced by

This will be quicker than working through the full titles in the volumes of statutes for this period, although at the cost of less detail. (Tables giving full titles will be produced eventually as I work on correcting the OCR of the scanned volumes, but this will take some time.)

Once the private and local tables have been created, I will produce a more convenient package of these lists, easy to download and suitable for searching and text mining.