Digital Heritage Lab


Digital Public History LabThe Digital Heritage  Lab seeks to progress understanding of the ways technology enhances public engagement with the past through research and education, by promoting collaboration between technologies, engineers, and heritage practitioners to continually advance the state of the art in digital heritage.

We have particular strengths and interests in historical crowdsourcing and digital archives.


Crowdsource Arcade

Project Team: Adam Crymble (Hertfordshire), Ben O'Steen (British Library), Mahendra Mahey (British Library)

Dr Adam Crymble is one of the winners of the 2015 British Library Labs Awards. The Crowdsource Arcade is being produced in collaboration with British Library Labs. The project repurposes 1980s arcade consoles for scholarly image classification. The arcade machines will encourage members of the public to 'play' on them. In the process, these machines will encourage users to help build a catalogue of metadata related to the British Library's one million image Flickr collection. The project will experiment with 'crowdsourcing objects', to replace the ubiquity of the crowdsourcing website with the scarcity of a physical machine. It will take the crowdsourcing experience off the web and put it into a 1980s-style arcade game, replete with joysticks and plastic shiny buttons. This old interface put to new uses acknowledges that people increasingly associate their computers with work, and by providing a digital experience that doesn't feel like a computer, it can tap into energy currently reserved for play.

This experiment will provide new knowledge about what motivates people to participate in crowd-generated data collection, drawing upon the increasingly important field of game studies within the digital humanities, as well as the powerful force of nostalgia for a generation of scholars who came of age with physical video game machines. By asking users to help classify a subset of the collection in ways that are easy for humans but difficult for computers, scholars will provide useful datasets for future research on visual culture. This new data will be made freely available to researchers, and will form the basis of future machine learning experiments in which the categorisations of the human gamers are used to 'train' machines to complete the classification process.

Building a People's Archive

Project Team: Ciara Meehan

The purpose of this project is to create a 'people's archive' of everyday life in 1960s Ireland. This will take the format of a virtual, on-line archive, which will be publicly available. It will feature oral testimonies and transcripts, and letters, diaries, photographs and scans of objects that have been crowdsourced from members of the Irish public.  The archive will provide a space for people to leave a record of their lives for their families and for future generations; it is envisaged that the archive will later become a tool for genealogical research. It will also be an invaluable source for future historians and sociologists interested in what life was like and how it was experienced by women of different generations in 1960s Ireland.  This is a pilot project, and it is hoped that the scope will later be expanded to include all of the twentieth century.

Further details:‚Äč

Join Us

Please contact Dr Crymble directly if you wish to apply to work with us in digital history. We are always happy to hear from excellent prospective MA and PhD students from the UK and overseas.

Postgraduate and Postdoctoral candidates can be supported in applications for the following:

  • British Academy Fellowships
  • Wellcome Research Fellowships
  • AHRC collaborative doctoral partnerships


  • Adam Crymble, Director
  • Ciara Meehan
  • Sarah Lloyd
  • Owen Davies