Encyclopedia of Greater Boston
The Encyclopedia of Greater Boston project models an iterative and collaborative platform that connects a wide range of projects, datasets, and archival items, offering a framework that can be generalized for other city-focused digital encyclopedias. Because of the breadth provided by the encyclopedia format, the project allows the BRC team to consider how such an encyclopedia might offer a particularly dense locus for building connections among the BRC’s materials.
Marty Blatt—Faculty, History
Victoria Cain—Faculty, History
Debra Lavelle—Graduate student, History
The Encyclopedia of Boston and BRC teams have begun mapping out the infrastructure needed for a digital city encyclopedia linked to BRC projects, datasets, and archival materials. The teams have also developed several mockup pages showing the kinds of contents and links that the encyclopedia could contain: a landing page for browsing topics; a sample entry for the Morgan v. Hennigan case showing a timeline view option; a sample entry for busing and desegregation in Boston, linked to the Boston Desegregation Archive project and to several archival collections; and a sample entry for the executions on Boston Common during King Philip’s War, showing a placeholder map for interactive exploration. Read more about the pilot processes and outcomes here.
The project explores the design considerations and data modeling necessary to build a full digital encyclopedia of greater Boston, one that emphasizes mobility, accessibility, and iterative research. In developing the prototype entries, the project team has identified project-specific platform requirements, requisite metadata structures, mechanisms for including community-contributed content, possibilities for algorithmically curating materials such as historical photographs, best practices for modeling historical data, and so on. In the future, the project team envisions expanding on this initial prototyping work to launch a comprehensive digital encyclopedia of greater Boston, with connections to and collaborations with other BRC projects.