English Playbills

English Playbills


Michael Gamer, Professor, English

Scott Enderle, Digital Humanities Specialist

Project Start Date: 
May, 2018

This project involves design, building, and analysis of a database of 19th-century English playbills.  Playbills contain a wealth of information for literary and cultural historians, for example about the major theatrical trade routes as plays departed London and made their way through the provinces.  But these ephemeral documents are notoriously quirky in format and variable in content, and hence difficult to treat systematically or to capture as a dataset.  Working with the DH Specialist Scott Enderle and with support from a Price Lab seed grant and additional funds from the Center for Undergrad Research, Gamer employed three student assistants to compile some 800 playbill records from our Kislak collection as well as to download and structure a further 60 gigabytes of playbills from the British Library.  Enderle and the Price-funded student designed and wrote code for the project database and for the form that assistants use to add new records.  Their software enables these documents to be explored at scale for the first time.  It is also readily adaptable to other projects, and is already being used for a second project at the Price Lab.

Prospecting Playbillsby By Louisa Shepard in OMNIA