Lightning Talk Digital Humanities Australasia 2018

Exploring spatial histories using digital resources and tools: the case of tuberculosis in Adelaide 1902-7 (76)

Julie Collins 1 , Peter Lekkas 1
  1. University of South Australia, Adelaide, SA, Australia

This presentation will outline interdisciplinary research-in-progress in the digital humanities. Using historical methods and building on previous qualitative place-based enquiry into tuberculosis sanatoria, this current project endeavours to create a more detailed picture of the urban, social and cultural history of tuberculosis in South Australia at the turn of the twentieth century. 

We aim to demonstrate how non-specialist and freely available databases and mapping software can be used by researchers, and particularly historians, to bring to life archival vital records; an under-utilised set of data.

This presentation will briefly overview influential international digital humanities projects within the area of health and historical mapping. Additionally, it will describe pertinent digital methods and demonstrate how primary data can be collected and collated from historical records, in both paper-based and digital collections.

Specifically, we will illustrate how, in this current project, historical data has been spatially re-emplaced and augmented with records relating to social conditions and housing. We will demonstrate the spatial analytical techniques being used to explore associations between the geographic distribution of tuberculosis deaths across metropolitan Adelaide and the socio-demographic and socio-economic conditions of the time. Techniques which will be mentioned include digital mapping, data visualisation and graphing, and the digital overlaying of maps and photographic records, all using freely available software, tutorials and resources. Data presented will include that found through Trove, especially online newspapers, as well as postal directories, maps, government reports, census data and photographic collections. Collectively these data lead to the development of an increasingly rich picture of the topic in question.