I’ve called Neatline, the Digital Humanities Start-Up project Adam Soroka and I began developing in September, a “contribution to interpretive humanities scholarship in the visual vernacular.”


This project will allow scholars (and other stewards of cultural heritage) to create Web-based geospatial and temporal visualizations that build on the rich EAD metadata libraries produce in describing their archival collections and making them more discoverable — but the crucial twist is that we didn’t want to think of our Neatline visualizations as products of the metadata. They’re not brain-dead algorithmic output or some kind of thoughtless expression of the archivist’s (nuanced, but necessarily broad) stance toward historical or literary documents of interest. (Yes, I’m asking for it; bring it on!) In other words, Neatline isn’t about the parsing of placenames and automated population of timelines with data. Rather, we’ve conceived this tool (really, as development proceeds, this approach, because Neatline is emerging as an arrangement of instruments and an attitude toward their use) as a kind of playspace for the scholarly interpretative act. In future posts, we’ll describe our development effort and I’ll delve a little into the conceptual background for Neatline in the Temporal Modelling project I undertook several years ago with Johanna Drucker.

In the meantime, you can read about how we’re employing the Omeka plugin framework as a way to handle GIS services for scanned historical maps on the project pages for Neatline-in-progress and our larger Omeka plugin work, or you can check out our dedicated project blog.

Bethany directed the Scholars' Lab from 2007 to 2015, and is now Director of the Digital Library Federation at CLIR, the Council on Library and Information Resources. She remains affiliated with UVa as a Research Associate Professor of Digital Humanities in the English Department. Computing humanist/humane computationalist since 1996. Formerly director of the Scholars' Lab…


  1. I am just diving into the done by the Stanford Data Visualization Group in ppirarateon for Erin’s and my visualization lesson in a couple of weeks. Like most of our tasks, the trick is to get the data in the right format first, but I managed to plug some of my data into the JavaScript and yield results.


New Support for “Omeka + Neatline” « Neatline Neatline notes | Scholars’ Lab and the Center for History and New Media Partner on “Omeka + Neatline” |