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Alex Fitzpatrick and Arran Rees When the Congruence Engine project was first launched in 2021, some of the earliest work was focused on Bradford. We held our opening conference between Salts Mill in Saltaire, and Lister Mill in Manningham, and spent time looking into the history of the textile industry that has ultimately shaped the city and surrounding areas. It was during this time that we first began thinking about the idea of a ‘social machine’, an idea that we […]

Derek Ward interviewed by Colin Hyde. Audio extract from Mines of Memory, East Midlands Oral History Archive. © Stefania Zardini Lacedelli. The trepidation of a fourteen-year-old boy on his first day of work at the coal mine. The excitement of three Italian sisters who had left their home to work in a Yorkshire mill, when they reunited for the first time. A fight between an old miners’ lift cage and a new one, representing the impact of a technological innovation […]

What can we learn from visualising museum objects on a map? For example, what new insights do we get from showing the places where Parsons turbines or turbo-alternators were installed? (Turbines are more efficient steam engines used for electricity generation, which use a special arrangement of blades to control the flow of gas and steam.) Charles Algernon Parsons was the inventor of the modern steam turbine. Although the turbines were manufactured within the Newcastle district, our project shows that this […]

Photographs of historic scenes exert a compelling effect on our imagination. Even those that are fading or stained seem to draw us into the lost moment of their capture. Indeed, if the quality or resolution of the photograph makes the scene or person depicted appear somehow elusive, the effect can be even stronger. We long to get closer to the subject, to fill in the gaps and solve the mystery of the unknowability of the past. In a sense, our […]

Written by Jon Agar, with contributions from Tim Boon, Bernard Musesengwe, Stefania Zardini Lacedelli, Daniel Belteki and Graeme Gooday. In May 2023 a party of Congruence Engine collaborators visited the National Collection Centre in Wiltshire, home to an increasing amount of the Science Museum Group Collection. The Congruence Engine is all about using digital methods to make new links between collections of industrial heritage. But sometimes we can get a bit lost in code. Here was a chance to remind […]

Ethics in Digital Humanities and digital scholarship has become a vivid topic of discussion and research in recent years (Rehbein 2015; Proferes 2020). Not surprisingly, it is in the field of Digital Cultural Heritage, especially with the emergence of large, varied and complex digital datasets as well as advanced, public-facing computational systems and methods, including AI, that a new set of ethical considerations have come to the forefront, mainly focused on biases at all stages and aspects of digital cultural […]

Care, Contribution, Connection This is the transcript of a presentation given by Helen Graham at the Towards a National Collection Conference 2023 held at the British Museum on 26th April. The presentation was collaboratively developed by Tim Boon, Alex Butterworth, Helen Graham and Arran Rees and opens up the role of action research in supporting the practical and conceptual dimensions of conceptualising national collection as social machine. Congruence Engine is working on linking industrial-related archives and museum collections. We are […]

The Congruence Engine is aiming to create new collections-based industrial histories. Collection objects offer a compelling starting point for industrial histories; however, the best and most interesting such histories extend outwards, beyond the walls of the museum into the world beyond. This is where digital tools can be used to draw new connections and link museum objects to the broader material realm of past societies. Historians often talk about context as what we add to situate people, things or events […]

For four weeks during June and July last year, a group of researchers in the Congruence Engine began a set of mini-investigations that had been formed during a co-production workshop held at the University of Leeds. We’ve mentioned some of the inquiries that we did and some of our findings in our blog on the reflection workshop that we held at the end of the four-week research sprint. This blog is an attempt to dig down a bit deeper into […]

Written by Stefania Zardini Lacedelli, Paul Craddock, Simon Popple, Tim Smith PART I One of the key areas of investigation that emerged from the workshop in Leeds on 20-21 June was the opportunity to explore the connective power of oral history, by focusing on the hidden stories of mill workers. This direction emerged as part of a wider reflection on the need to bring human stories to the objects and places related to textile industry, so reinfusing Saltaire and Lister […]

For the communications strand of the Congruence Engine we are still in the exploratory phase. With this in mind I wondered what some of the digital humanities packages purchased by university libraries could offer, not least because an exploration of their capabilities would serve as a measure of what Congruence Engine aims to exceed. What is already available provides a baseline against which we can judge what Congruence Engine will do. A leading digital history package is Gale Digital Scholar […]

Written by Helen Graham and Arran Rees On 27th July we met to reflect on the mini-inquiries that had developed after the Leeds workshop, on the textiles pilot more generally, and to begin planning forward for the next phase of the textiles strand that will expand to cover Lancashire and the cotton industry too. The way in which the mini-inquiries were co-produced is described in one of our previous blog posts. For this phase of the project, we decided to […]

Written by Stefania Zardini Lacedelli and Jane Winters. In this blog post we aim to help researchers, digital humanities scholars, museum curators, historians to better understand what the digital platform Omeka can do and cannot do – alone or in in combination with other tools – and how it can contribute to the digital curation journey. In the past decade, the range of digital curation tools available for heritage institutions has increased exponentially. These platforms have been pivotal in extending […]

By Graeme Gooday, Kylea Little and Cameron Tailford Energy really matters – in both material and immaterial ways. Since the late 19th century the abstract concept of ‘energy’ has been routinely used not only by practitioners of science and technology to calculate thermodynamic transitions in microscopic and macroscopic processes, but by humans across the planet to calculate the costs of everyday heating, lighting, travelling. The immense and often perilous labour of extracting the fuels to power such activities long pre-dated […]

Helen Graham and Arran Rees Congruence Engine is a complex project with many people involved. As a way of organising ourselves we’ve developed a working groups approach designed to enable distributed activity, with people able to initiate and lead and find the right people to work with based on time, energy and interest (not hierarchy). To facilitate this we thought we could use a shared sense of direction. To express this we drew on the work of Mike Benson, Kathy […]

Reflections from Arran Rees and Helen Graham, the co-facilitators of the action research for the project. Between 9th and 11th February 2022, we held the opening conference of Congruence Engine in Bradford. In doing this, we situated the first in-person event in a well-known hub of Britain’s historic textile industry – an industry that is also the project’s first thematic focus. Spending two and a half days between Salts Mill in Saltaire and Lister Mills in Manningham, the project partners […]

Some collaborative reflections by Arran Rees and Helen Graham, with some helpful thoughts from Asa Calow, John Stack and Tim Boon. The Congruence Engine is made up of a large team of people who are bringing a diverse range of different modes of working to the project. A key feature of the project is the flexible participatory methodology that is planned to ensure close dialogue and work planning between all project participants. As part of beginning the project therefore, we […]