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32 Visual Interpretation of the ISTC

The Atlas of Early Printing and the Material History of Data

Gregory Prickman    Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC, US    



The Atlas of Early Printing is an online resource built with GIS tools to depict the spread and development of printing during the incunable period in Europe. It has been online since 2008 and continues to be developed. The site uses data from the Incunabula Short Title Catalog (ISTC) and other sources, providing a visualisation of the databases from which the data is retrieved. The data being visualised is the result of many decades of cataloguing, arranging, publishing, and migrating; the work that followed was informed by material constraints and has left material traces. For the ISTC, an important period in the development of data formats was the work Margaret Bingham Stillwell undertook from 1924 to 1940 for the bibliography Incunabula in American Libraries, a Second Census. The data she gathered were meticulously coordinated through mailing campaigns and organised on cards, and then translated into print according to the publisher’s requirements. The decisions underlying Stillwell’s descriptions were migrated to Frederick Goff’s Third Census and eventually directly into the first version of the ISTC. The structures she developed serve as the foundation for modern efforts to expand beyond the limitations of the short-title format, and to provide the data for geographic and other visualisations.

24 Febbraio 2020
05 Novembre 2019
11 Aprile 2019

Keywords: Data ProvenanceGISFrederick GoffMargaret Bingham StillwellSecond CensusHistory of DataData VisualisationISTCShort TitleThird CensusIncunabulaBook History15th Century BooktradeData Archaeology

Copyright: © 2020 Gregory Prickman. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.