Digital Archives and Pacific Cultures

Polynesian canoe

Account of Work in Progress: March 9, 2013.

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We dream in angle brackets, muse on XSLT templates, and visualize whirling virtual Earths to animate our site. We expect nothing less of "Digital Archives and Pacific Cultures" than visualization: a view of the globe as it took on in its modern form in the 18th century, and a way to see how the great Pacific voyages of the 1760s and 1770s generated distinct responses in Atlantic-bound media. We have concentrated our efforts in the past two months on the published accounts of Wallis's first contact with Tahiti and on Cook's second and third voyages. In studying these documents of the 1760s-1780s early cultural encounters with Pacific peoples, we have prioritized both geo-coding and markup of first contact and cross-cultural exchange and conflict scenarios. Further, we are marking commentary on new flora and fauna as crucial to the new outlook on the world and its forms of life. We want to find out how the rare sights documented on these voyages, such as the verbal descriptions and sketches drawn of kangaroos and encounters with new languages and cultures, caught English imaginations in a way that we can mark in new worldly poetry of the late eighteenth century.

We are working with five separate voyage accounts, mainly for their relevance to the English poems on Polynesia that we are studying this year.

We have spent much time preparing good XML files from a range of distinct base texts, from Project Gutenberg, from the ECCO Text Creation Partnership, and finally from early Microsoft Word documents generously sent to us by Nicholas Thomas, Professor of Historical Anthropology at the University of Cambridge, who published editions of Johann and Georg Forster's narratives in the 1990s and early 2000s. At this point, our files of Hawkesworth and of Cook's Second Voyage have undergone the most intensive markup and are fully TEI P5 conformant. In preparing these files, we experimented with identity transformations from XML to XML (as exemplified by the Early Stage Identity Transformation of the Cook file), and we soon developed XSLT stylesheets to transform XML to HTML. We experimented with both the Hawkesworth HTML transformation and the Cook HTML Transformation, and with applying color coding with CSS to spans of our markup. Much of this color coding will likely change or disappear as we rethink how we are coding cultural contact episodes. Our project team is holding a long meeting on Monday over Spring Break devoted to this matter of markup. For now the bright colors help us to take stock of what we've marked, why it's significant, and how we might code differently as we think about intersections across multiple files. We will most likely be keeping the blue color-coded spans indicating the geo elements, or latitude and longitude coordinates we have marked during our careful sifting of these files and intensive labors with regular expressions.

The Hawkesworth file is now ready, and the Cook Second Voyage file very nearly ready, for the next phase of effort with geo coding. We have already experimented with using XSLT to capture our geo coordinates as coded in an earlier phase, to plot them to KML. We include the experimental XSLT transformation to KML which David Birnbaum generously helped us with, as well as the KML output file, simply because the KML did actually work to plot coordinates on Google Earth. They were simply the wrong coordinates, since we need to be indicating the appropriate hemisphere and using negative values (as we did not in this case). In that first round of geo coding, however, we were attempting to reformulate each coordinate record in degrees, minutes, and seconds into a decimal construction and entering these values by hand. There are simply too many of these to convert one by one. We find we are able to plug coordinates in degrees, minutes, and seconds N/S (for latitude) or E/W (for longitude) directly into Google Earth with good results. This bodes well for us in redesigning our XSLT to KML transformation this week. Perhaps we don't have to convert values after all, but can simply concatenate the latitude readings with the longitude into a string as a value of an attribute. To prepare for this, we are asking everyone on our two project teams, and our Greensburg research assistants, to help with the task of locating multiple geo elements within paragraphs (using XPath expressions in each of our voyage files), locating the pairs of latitude and longitude coordinates to match, and labeling them with @n. This has been our goal: to generate a matched pair of coordinates in an attribute of the element geo, which can then by read and mapped to KML. For more on our current plans and concerns with geo coding, please see our project discussion board posting from Wed. March 6. Despite the anxieties and uncertainties posted there, we are confident that we can find a way to feed good data to KML.

We are completing the structural markup of our Forster files, which pose some challenges due to many special characters. Georg Forster's account is now TEI-conformant, and I devoted some careful work with regular expressions to transform the document's footnotes into ptr elements with target attributes that lead to note elements with distinct xml:ids at the end of the file. However, Johann Forster's account is not yet well-formed, though it's well on its way. Rickman's Journal of Cook's Last Voyage is the cleanest of our three newer voyage texts, and the most ready for geo and cultural markup.

There remains to account for our XML files of Gerald Fitzgerald's "The Injured Islanders" and Anna Seward's "Elegy on Captain Cook." We have been focusing on processing our voyage files, but we are turning to work on the poem files to update their TEI headers, correct errors, and begin context encoding of people, places, dates, times, concepts, and cultural interactions. This week, as we rethink our markup strategies, we need to come up with a system of tagging that will be consistent across all of our files, associating our voyage accounts with the poems. Also, new CSS needs to be written for the poems, and we need to consider good ways to display the complex encoding of the Seward Elegy, since this records two different variant texts, and since it also encodes authorial notes along with references to a student gloss file from last years. Two student research assistants in Greensburg have been researching and drafting revisions to the glosses generated by students in our Greensburg Digital Humanities class last fall, so we will likely try to incorporate their work. More serious work needs to be devoted to repairing the injuries suffered by the Injured Islanders' file, which reflects the generally good yet time-pressed student work of a final group transcription and coding project submitted last December. The file demands very careful prooofreading against the original text to correct several transcription errors, among other matters. One of our Pacifist team members who also worked on this file last fall is tasked with this repair operation, and the sooner it is ready, the sooner we can proceed with the interesting work of adding markup that associates the poems with the voyage accounts.

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Handy Reference on Voyages

Some Orientation and Quest for Good Texts: Posted in early February 2013.

We have lots of voyages to try to keep track of. This site is a handy reference guide for us:

This South Seas site may also be useful for us:
Its scope looks comprehensive for the period of 1760-1800, but it's sadly incomplete--and I wonder if their project lost funding around 2004...Anyway, have a look at the Cultural Atlases and maps here. Ours will likely be different, since we have Google Earth to work with now, but this does give us a sense of what we might try.

Wallis Voyage:

Along with the Forster narratives discussed below, The Injured Islanders team should work with the account of Captain Wallis's visit to Tahiti in his 1766-1768 Voyage in the Dolphin. Wallis is a significant character in The Injured Islanders, since he's the captain that Oberea is addressing in her lament within the poem. Also the Wallis voyage literally represents the first account of Otaheite. Here's a good digital text (huzzah!):

Hawkesworth, John. An Account of the Voyages undertaken by the order of His present Majesty for making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, And successively performed by Commodore Byron, Captain Wallis, Captain Carteret, and Captain Cook, In the Dolphin, the Swallow, and the Endeavour: drawn up From the Journals which were kept by the several Commanders, And from the Papers of Joseph Banks, Esq. 3 vols. London, 1773.
**For Wallis at Tahiti, see Vol. 1, find the second set of numbered chapters (Wallis), chaps IV - IX.. Thanks to the ECCO Text Creation Partnership, we actually have an excellent digital text file to work with:
ECCO TCP (text creation partnership):;iel=4;view=toc;idno=004846500.0001.001

Full Text (with good clear structural divisons):;view=fulltext


Forster Texts:

On Fri. evening 2/1, I spent some time looking for available text-based editions of 18th-century voyage accounts especially important to the Injured Islanders team. We know this poem is remarkable for its unusually sensitive approach to Tahitian culture, and this seems likely because it cites publications by the Forsters, (Johann Reinhold Forster and his son Georg), a father and son team of naturalists who traveled with Cook on his second Pacific Voyage on the HMS Resolution. Both the father and the son published accounts of the 2nd voyage, and there's excellent ethnographic content in each for us to work with.

Here are the two Forster texts we're seeking:

1. Forster, Johann Reinhold. Observations made during a voyage round the world, on physical geography, natural history, and ethic philosophy. Especially on: 1. The earth and its strata; 2. Water and the ocean; 3. The atmosphere; 4. The changes of the globe; 5. Organic bodies; and 6. The human species.London: G. Robinson, 1778.

NOTE: We probably just need Chapter 6 (the last chapter) of this for cultural references, though we should search it for references to natural phenomena in the poem...
located on Hathi Trust Digital Library , which offers an uneven plain text OCR version. The first pages of the plain text are the worst (wherever there's text of varying font size in the original), so I think we could get by with working with this. Wish I could find something better. :-[ --NOT in the ECCO database.

2. Forster, Georg. A voyage round the world in His Britannic Majesty's sloop, Resolution, commanded by Capt. James Cook, during the years 1772, 3, 4, and 5. In two volumes. London, 1777.

*We can find Georg Forster's Voyage Round the World in the ECCO database, but this will only give us a PDF file to work with, which we could try converting via OCR--Having tried this before with 18th-century typography, it's not a pretty process. It may be possible to train the OCR to recognize things like the long s, but it's going to be problematic.

**Nicholas Thomas (major Pacific historian in our times) has recently made good editions of each of these, and Scott found his 2000 edition of Georg Forster's voyage account in ebrary in the Pitt library system. It would be better for us to work with 18th century texts, but it's going to be hard to find good plain text versions. Neither is available in Project Gutenberg.
(Nicholas Thomas notes that the only English edition of this is printed by Benjamin White in 1777, but it has been frequently reprinted in German! I bet we could find a good unicode text of it in German...)
***As Scott noticed, there *is* a way to copy clean plain text from the ebrary edition, and we may just want to run with this, going paragraph by paragraph and plopping it into oXygen with <p> tags around it...

Cook's Second Voyage:

For the Cook Elegaists, we know we need to work with this text, since Seward's information seems to be drawn from it in particular:
Cook, James. A Voyage towards the South Pole, and round the World. Performed in His Majesty's ships the Resolution and Adventure, in the years 1772, 1773, 1774, and 1775. . . In which is included, Captain Furneaux’s Narrative of his Proceedings in the Adventure. 2 vols. London, 1777.
Volume 1: [NOTE the Plain Text UTF-8 links]

Volume 2:

I have started with making folders and chapters of the Cook Voyage account into basic TEI XML files.

Cook's Death at Hawaii:

Seward wrote her "Elegy on Captain Cook" within months of the first news reported back of Cook's death, during his THIRD voyage. The published account of Cook's last voyage wasn't yet available to her, but we may want to look at it anyway in our coding of voyage accounts. For this, we have an excellent ECCO TCP text:

Journal of Captain Cook's last voyage, to the Pacific Ocean: on Discovery: performed in the years 1776, 1777, 1778, 1779, and 1780. Illustrated with cuts, and a chart, ...
Author: Rickman, John. Publication Info: London : printed for E. Newbery, 1785.
We want Part II:;rgn=div1;view=fulltext.

For the complex events of Cook's death and what happened to his body on "O-Why-Hee": look at pages 291 onward (to around p. 317 or so...)