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Ten Years of the Old Bailey Online

Date: 10/04/2013

This month is the tenth birthday for the Old Bailey Online; the website contains searchable archive of the trials from 1674 to 1913. The website provided the inspiration for the three series of the BBC One award-winning drama Garrow's Law and the Radio 4 series 'Voices from the Old Bailey', both of which connected with viewers through the BBC website.

Minister for Universities and Science David Willetts commented that the online trial accounts: provide a valuable resource to academics and researchers as well as source material for creative industries. Garrows Law has used Old Bailey Online to bring to life a fascinating aspect of our history.

Old Bailey Online has so far had over 34 million page views, more than 5 million visits and 3.5 million unique users from all over the world.

The founders of the Old Bailey Online, Professor Robert Shoemaker from the University of Sheffield and Professor Tim Hitchcock from the University of Hertfordshire, were funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the National Lottery to develop the project. The Old Bailey Online was developed at the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Sheffield and the Higher Education Digitisation Service at the University of Hertfordshire, joined for its second phase by the Open University. Since its completion the same project team have added two new resources to widen its reach. London Lives, released in 2010, contains records relating to crime, poverty and social policy in eighteenth-century London. This fully searchable resource provides access to over 240,000 manuscripts from eight archives and 15 datasets, giving access to the names of 3.4 million Londoners. Locating London's Past, launched in December 2011, and allows place names from the Old Bailey Proceedings to be mapped onto John Rocque's 1746 map of London as well as the first accurate modern Ordinance Survey Map (1869-80).

A pioneer online historical resource, the Old Bailey Online has inspired countless other online projects. It is also included in several larger web resources, including the Connected Histories webpage, a search interface for 22 online historical databases totalling over 15 billion words. Connected Histories, funded by JISC, was developed by the same team at Sheffield and Hertfordshire that created the Old Bailey Online, in collaboration with the University of London's Institute of Historical Research. It enables users to explore resources such as the Old Bailey trials alongside a wealth of other historical records.

Professor Shoemaker said: The Old Bailey Online has been used in many, many ways we never anticipated. We are particularly proud of the fact it is a free resource, open to all, and we continue to be amazed at the creative work it facilitates.

Professor Hitchcock added: It is the everyday details and the voices of the poor that continue to shock; and as the years have gone by, new voices and new details rise to surface almost daily. The site has helped make a new history from below possible.

To help celebrate the Old Bailey Online's tenth anniversary, the website is hosting a blogothon where accounts of researchers' and teachers' experience using the site will be posted - everyone is welcome. If you have a blog, all you need to do is publish a post sometime around the weekend of 13-14 April and let the team know about it - posts will be linked to here: Old Bailey Online Tumblr

For further information, please contact: Danielle Moore-Chick, AHRC: 01793 416021 d.moore-chick@ahrc.ac.uk

To find out more visit the Old Bailey Online

Visit the website for further information on the University of Sheffield’s Humanities Research Institute.

To get involved in the blogathon event visit: Old Bailey Online Blogathon.

Notes to editors

  • The University of Sheffield

    With nearly 25,000 of the brightest students from 125 countries coming to learn alongside 1,181 of the world's best academics, it is clear why the University of Sheffield is one of the UK's leading universities. Staff and students at Sheffield are committed to helping discover and understand the causes of things - and propose solutions that have the power to transform the world we live in.

    A member of the Russell Group, the University of Sheffield has a reputation for world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. The University of Sheffield has been named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 for its exceptional performance in research, teaching, access and business performance. In addition, the University has won four Queen's Anniversary Prizes (1998, 2000, 2002, 2007), recognising the outstanding contribution by universities and colleges to the United Kingdom's intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

    One of the markers of a leading university is the quality of its alumni and Sheffield boasts five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students. Its alumni have gone on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

    Research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, Boots, AstraZeneca, GSK, ICI, Slazenger, and many more household names, as well as UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

    The University has well-established partnerships with a number of universities and major corporations, both in the UK and abroad. Its partnership with Leeds and York Universities in the White Rose Consortium has a combined research power greater than that of either Oxford or Cambridge.

  • About the University of Hertfordshire

    The University is the UK's leading business-facing university and an exemplar in the sector. It is innovative and enterprising and challenges individuals and organisations to excel.

    The University of Hertfordshire is one of the region's largest employers with over 2,650 staff and a turnover of almost £233 million.

    With a student community of over 27,200 including more than 2,800 students from eighty-five different countries, the University has a global network of over 175,000 alumni.

    It is also one of the top 100 universities in the world under 50 years old, according to the new Times Higher Education 100 under 50 rankings 2012.

    For more information, please visit the University of Hertfordshire website.


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