British History: Kindred Britain, A New Interactive Digital Humanities Resource from Stanford University
From Stanford Today:
Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill is a direct descendent of King Henry VIII. There is a distant family relationship between Virginia Woolf and Anne Boleyn. Family ties connect the Royal Baby, Prince George, to Isaac Newton, to Jane Austen, to William Wordsworth and to Florence Nightingale.
These are just a few of the thousands of surprising family links that users can see for themselves on Kindred Britain, a newly launched Stanford digital humanities website.
Originated, researched and overseen by Nicholas Jenkins, an associate professor of English at Stanford, the interactive site is built on a customized database of nearly 30,000 individuals who either are British or have a familial relationship to a British person.
But Kindred Britain is much more than a hyper-detailed genealogical network.
A scholar of 20th-century culture and literature, Jenkins calls the site a social network of the past that stands midway between scientific studies of ancestry and the popular hobby of exploring family roots. In developing the site, Jenkins aimed to look at history through the “very distinctive lens of family,” or, “to use a metaphor, we said, ‘let’s treat family as the master key to the past.'”
Jenkins sought out the expertise of Elijah Meeks, a digital humanities specialist in Stanford University Libraries. Meeks created web software capable of producing a variety of customized interpretations of the data.
The resulting site, hosted and published by Stanford University Libraries, can sort, shape and visualize data by parameters like profession, geography, eras, family clusters and lines, as well as individual relations and life events.