Web Magazine for Information Professionals

Planet SOSIG

Debra Hiom with a report which covers: the launch of Citizenship Past; a new VTS Tutorial for European Studies; and an update on the SOSIG Portals Project.

Launch of Citizenship Past

The launch of Citizenship Past took place on the 12th June. This is a NOF (New Opportunities Fund) consortium whose aim is to digitize over a half a million historical papers and images in order to open up access to archival and government papers in the following areas:

Unlocking Key British Government Publications, 1801-1995: Full Text Digital Library, led by BOPCRIS, Hartley Library, University of Southampton.

British Official Publications (government and parliamentary reports) constitute an immense body of material on the development of British society. BOPCRIS aims to save users time and effort in finding relevant publications by enabling them, from any PC, to: (a) search and browse a Web-based finding tool containing details of over 23,000 key documents (b) read abstracts, and view detailed consistent subject indexing © read the full-text version of key documents. a) and (b) and part of c) are already developed with funding from the Research Support Libraries Programme ( RSLP) NOF funding will enable full text digitisation of all the documents.

Hidden Lives Revealed: A Virtual Archive, led by The Children’s Society, London

The key aim of the project is to provide first hand information on the lives of the children who were cared for by the Waifs and Strays Society, which later became the present day Children’s Society. Documents from approximately 300-400 case files from 1882 to 1917 will be digitised and made available, as will photographs, oral histories and a digitised version of an in-house supporter magazine. This material provides a fascinating insight into family life amongst the poorest members of community of this period, and into the way social support charities operated within the community.

It is also hoped that the site will provide an insight into the way researchers use original documents to construct histories, and that visitors to the site will be stimulated to carry out further social and local history research on the period and subjects covered.

From History to Her Story: Yorkshire Women’s Lives On-line, 1100 to the present, led by the West Yorkshire Archive Service

As a major and unique project in women’s history, ‘From History to Her Story’ will make accessible to all, via the web, archive material relating to Yorkshire women through the ages. Using the diaries, letters, and records by and about Yorkshire women, the project will uncover Anne Lister’s lesbian love affairs through selected transcripts of her diaries; highlight little known facts about the Brontë sisters; live the life of Amabel Yorke, Countess de Grey; discover why women were locked up in the West Riding lunatic asylum; and hear the testimonies of local women working in the mills in the early 20th century - and this is only a fraction of the material which will be available.

‘From History to Her Story’ will, over the next 18 months, bring together around 85,000 images on a purpose-built website, thus creating a major learning resource and unlocking new learning opportunities for all, from academic researcher to schoolchild.

Materials are expected to be online by December 2002. For more information about the collections visit:


For more information about the project contact:

Simon Brackenbury
Citizenship Past Co-ordinator
Ford Collection of British Official Publications
Hartley Library
University of Southampton
SO 17 1BJ
Email: scb1@soton.ac.uk

New VTS Tutorial for European Studies

“Internet for European Studies” is a free “teach yourself” tutorial on the Web, teaching Internet information skills for European Studies. The tutorial is aimed at students’ lecturers and researchers who want to improve their knowledge of the best Internet resources for this subject. It takes around an hour to do and includes quizzes and interactive exercises. There are also “Resources for Trainers” to support the use of the tutorial by librarians and lecturers who teach Internet Literacy. The tutorial has been written by Lydia Gibb at Information Services, University of Birmingham and is part of the Resource Discovery Network’s (RDN) Virtual Training Suite.


The Virtual Training Suite now consists over 50 tutorials; the latest additions include 11 new tutorials being offered for students in further education to find high quality information on the Internet to support their course work. To find out more see:


Update on the Portals Project

As reported in Ariadne last year SOSIG will be developing a number of new services through the Subject Portal Development Project. This is funded under the JISC 599 programme and its aim is to develop faculty-level subject portals based around the existing RDN subject gateways. The core feature will be to enable SOSIG users to undertake a combined search of the main social science information sources through a single search box, including:

A selection of the services that we hope will be available for users to search from the portal include:

SOSIG will be building on some of the services that it is already offering through the Social Science Grapevine to provide additional functionality for users. For instance:

The first phase of the Project involved a review of different software platforms for the portals. The review chose to follow a solution based on Open Source software developed by SOSIG. A prototype service based on this first phase is currently available (this cross searches a selection of the databases mentioned above). User testing on the prototype took place in the late summer last year and results from these sessions have fed back into the development plan for phase two of the Project. This next phase has consolidated the technical effort from the RDN hubs to work on a programme of shared software development and we hope to be able to start some user testing over this summer.

SOSIG is keen to receive feedback and suggestions on how the portal should develop to best support the needs of social science information users. If you are interested in being kept up to date with developments or would like to get involved in future focus group sessions or user testing please get in touch at the address below.

Author details

Debra Hiom
8-10 Berkeley Square
Bristol BS8 1HH
Email: d.hiom@bristol.ac.uk