Mapping Memorials to Women in Aberdeen

This project, which was part of CTC20,  grew from a WMUK / Archaeology Scotland join project carried out by Scottish Graduate School of Arts & Humanities intern Roberta Leotta during lockdown 2020. More details about the background to the project can be found here.

It’s often touted that there are some cities in Scotland (coughEdinburghcough) where there are more statues to animals than there are to women. In my own work transferring OpenPlaques data to Wikidata I’ve observed that there are more entries for Charles Rennie Macintosh than there for women in Glasgow. So in this light, it’s somewhat refreshing to work on a project that celebrates all kinds of memorials to women in Scotland.

The Women of Scotland: Mapping Memorials project began in 2010 as a joint project between Glasgow Women’s Library, and Women’s History Scotland. It’s similar in many ways to OpenPlaques, but using Wikidata could add an extra dimension – let’s increase the coverage of women’s history and culture on the Wikimedia projects by getting these memorials and the women they celebrate into Wikidata, use that to identify gaps in knowledge, and then work to fill the gap.

Over the two days, here’s what we did:

Data collection

We scraped the initial list of data from Mapping Memorials website manually, and created a shared worksheet based on a model that’s been used previously for other cities. (The manual process is slow, and a bit fiddly, and is the one thing that I wouldn’t do again. We’re in contact with the admin so going forward, I’m hopeful that we wouldn’t need to repeat this step in the future.)

Once we had this list, we could create a more automated process to deal with gathering the other pieces of information we needed to create new, good quality Wikidata items, although some (description, for example) needed a human eye.

Wikidata identifiers

We were using two main identifiers on Wikidata – P8048 (Women of Scotland memorial ID) and P8050 (Women of Scotland subject ID). The former for the entries to the memorials themselves, and the latter for the women they celebrate. Where the women didn’t have entries, we could create those, and then link them to the entries for the memorials.

Both identifiers use the last part of the URL for each entry on the Mapping Memorials site, so that was fairly easy to do in Google docs. Once we had that info, it’s an easy enough step to bulk-create items either using Quickstatements or Wikibase CLI.

Creating items & avoiding duplicates

There’s a plug in for Google Sheets called Wikipedia and Wikidata Tools which has some useful features for projects like this – WikidataQID for looking up whether something already exists on Wikidata, and WikidataFacts, which tells you what that item is. The former is ok if you have an exact match, the latter is really useful for flagging anything which might lead to a disambiguation page, for example.

Ultimately we did end up with a few duplicates that needed to be merged, but this was pretty easily managed, and it really showed how useful it is to have local knowledge involved in local projects – there were a couple of sets of coordinates that were obviously wrong, but also some errors that wouldn’t have been spotted by someone unfamiliar with the area.

Coordinates and dates

I really like Quickstatements, but there are a few areas in which it’s fiddly, including coordinates and dates. I’m really interested in looking further into Wikibase CLI for dates in particular, as the process there for dates (documented here) looks to be substantially easier in terms of data prep than it does in Quickstatements. Many thanks to Tony for that work, as his expertise saved us a lot of time! He also used that tool to create items for those women commemorated who were missing from Wikidata, documented here.

As with dates, coordinates are entered into Quickstatements in a different format than that which you’d use manually inside Wikidata itself, hence the formatting you’ll see in column Q on the Data collection tab. Most of this we had to grab from Google Maps, which again is a bit fiddly.

Quickstatements

Once we had a master list of QIDs for the memorials we were working with, we could use Quickstatements to bulk upload sets of statements to those items.

For example, matching the memorials to the women commemorated, using this format:

Screenshot of a spreadsheet showing QID for memorials and the women they commemorate
Screenshot of a spreadsheet showing QID for memorials and the women they commemorate

The Q numbers on the left are those of the memorials, P547 is “commemorates”, and the Q numbers on the right are those of the women celebrated. We were also able to add P8050 (Women of Scotland subject ID) to some women who already had entries on Wikidata, but no WoS ID.

Screenshot of a spreadsheet showing each memorial QID and its type
Screenshot of a spreadsheet showing each memorial QID and its type

The Q number on the left again is the memorial, P31 is “instance of”, and the Q number on the right corresponds to a type of thing – a commemorative plaque, a garden, or a road, for example.

Once you’ve got the info in this format, it’s just a case of copy & pasting into QS, clicking import, and then run. (Note – you do need to be an autoconfirmed user to use QS, which means that your account must be at least 4 days old, and having more than 50 edits.) It’s relatively easy, and I was pleased that one of our relatively-new-to-Wikidata participants had the chance to make her first bulk uploads (description & commons category) using the tool over the weekend.

Photos

This project grew out of a desire to increase the coverage of Scottish heritage on Wikimedia Commons, so it was great to take some time on this. Mapping Memorials does have some images, but they’re not openly licensed, and others are missing. After Wikimedia Commons, our next port of call was Geograph, where many images have been released on Wiki-compatible Creative Commons licenses. Using Geograph2Commons, images can easily be transferred over to Wikimedia Commons, so that they can be used in any Wikimedia Project. Geograph also links to this feature from their site – click on “Find out how to reuse this image”, and then scroll down to “Wikipedia template for image page”, then click on the “geograph2commons” link. Really simple. Our group did some detective work for images, and then added them to Commons, and linked them manually to the Wikidata item.

This gave us a list of missing images… which is fine, but wouldn’t it be better to see them on a map?

Visualisation and filling the gaps

Thanks to Ian’s tutorial on how to create a custom WikiShootMe map, we were able to create a custom map that showed us which of the memorials we were working on had images, which didn’t, and where they were. That map is here, and it was great to see it slowly turn more green than red over the weekend as we found more images, or as volunteers headed out across Aberdeen between days to take missing pictures.

A screenshot of a clickable map where people can upload photos of monuments
A screenshot of a clickable map where people can upload photos of monuments

One of the small, but very satisfying, things you can do with these kinds of images is to integrate them into relevant Wikipedia articles. I added images from the project to the articles for Aberdeen Town House, Caroline Phillips, and Katherine Grainger. At the time of writing, around 2500 people have viewed those articles since I added the images.

Next steps

Over the course of the weekend we added 77 new memorials, and 26 new women to Wikidata, as well as a whole host of new photos. These entries all had some quite rich data, and as complete as we could make it.

We were surprised to see some of the individuals who didn’t have a Wikipedia article – and of course, we can use the Wikidata query service to identify those gaps. The queries below could give us a great starting point for an editathon, or indeed, for any Wikipedia editor interested in writing Women’s biography.

  • Wikidata query for women with a Women of Scotland subject ID, a memorial in Aberdeen, but no enwiki article: https://w.wiki/YVH
  • Wikidata query for women with a Women of Scotland subject ID, but no enwiki article: https://w.wiki/YVG

Huge thanks to the team, and to Code the City for another great hack weekend!

Dr Sara Thomas
Scotland Programme Coordinator, Wikimedia UK

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Header image: The Grave of Jessie Seymour Irvine by Ian Watt on Wiki Commons  (CC-BY-SA)

Mesolithic Deeside

Mesolithic Deeside is a group of archaeologists, students and local volunteers investigating the river Dee area 10,000 years ago. They’ve been gathering flints on seasonal field-walking trips and recording the data from the outputs of those allowing them to map Mesolithic Deeside.

Close up of hand holding a lithic
Close up of hand holding a lithic

The following is a summary of what the the group with some additional helpers achieved over the two days of CTC20.

Day 1

Team: Andy, Ali, Sheila and Irvine

Notes:

  • Discussed the goals of the project with the Mesolithic Deeside Team
    • Displaying data visually for public consumption
    • Updating / refreshing the website
    • Looking at ways to identify future sites for test pitting
  • Decided to focus on developing a way of visualising the data that has been collected
  • Data is currently stored in a QGIS project and a number of csv files
  • Initial work looked into the possibility of using QGIS and Tableau for visualisation
  • Tableau was later dropped in favour of QGIS
  • Issues with Andy loading QGIS data from the project – no reason why it shouldn’t work
  • Decided that Irvine would focus on working with QGIS and Andy would focus on finding a solution with Google Maps
  • Andy has selected a subset of the data and is currently working to put that data on a Google Map
  • Data needs to be cleaned and tidied up before being displayed, i.e typos, consistent name formatting
  • Currently working with Google Sites & Awesome Table
    • Awesome table works with Google Sheets and picks up certain types from a header row – can be tricky to get working
    • Unable to disable clustering when zoomed in
Example of AwesomeTable as a Map with clustering
Example of AwesomeTable as a Map with clustering

 

Example of data being filtered by flint type
Example of data being filtered by flint type

 

Example of colour coding for the different finds
Example of colour coding for the different finds

 

Day 2

Team 1: Andy, Robert & Irvine

Team 2: Ali, Sheila & Dave

Objectives:

  • Collate the finds data into a single spreadsheet
  • Investigate simple HTML / JS implementation of a google map with filter

Notes:

  • Two extra members joined our group today: Robert and Dave
  • Provided an update and explanation of what we have done so far to Robert and Dave
  • Andy had done some extra investigating into display finds data on a google map and found that AwesomeTable was limited to a 100 views total before having to pay and suggested that looking into a free option using javascript and HTML would be a better option
  • It was decided that the we split into two groups:
    • Ali, Sheila and Dave would explore options for the Mesolithic Deeside website
    • Andy, Irvine and Robert would continue working with the flint data
  • The following codepen was found showing what we were looking for, however, the code and script was not runnable, which meant devising our own code
  • Andy focused on gathering together individual spreadsheets into a single google sheet that would later be converted to a json file for loading into the google map
    • Contains over 8,000 flint samples
    • Files needed to be manually joined as columns differed between files
  • Irvine tidied up the dropbox to ensure that only processed spreadsheet files were ready for loading, and helped with any issues that came up with the files
  • A number of entries under type needed tidying up to catch variations in spelling and change in case
  • Before loading into Google Maps, the X & Y co-ordinates needed converting from OSGB36 to Lat & Long
  • Robert began working with Google Maps API to get info boxes and data points onto a google map

https://github.com/CodeTheCity/ctc20-mesolithic-deeside

Example of an info box and colour-coded points by find type.
Example of an info box and colour-coded points by find type.
Multiple points displayed at once on a zoomed out version of the map.
Multiple points displayed at once on a zoomed out version of the map.

Summary of Technologies Used

Technology Description Comments
QGIS Original software used by Mesolithic Deeside for collating the flint finds Looked at options to use QGIS cloud, but features were limited.

Andy had issues loading the shape files and project files – likely to be a problem with Andy’s setup, as version was up to date

Python Conversion of co-ordinates from OSGB36 to Lat & Long

Conversion of main spreadsheet to JSON file

Robert put together a short script for carrying out the conversion of co-ordinates, however, points were offset. Method dropped in favour of Batch Convert Tool.
AwesomeTable Seems like a simple way to display and visualise data on a website. Has multiple options for tables and maps. Allowed for quick displaying and filtering of data. No need to worry about coding.

Limited to 100 views before you had to start paying.

Ditched in favour of a manual solution.

Batch Convert Tool Quickly converts osgb36 to wgs84 or wgs84 to osgb36 and vice versa. (link) Very quick when converting 6,000 points at once.
Google Maps (My Maps) Initially tested for displaying the points on a Google Map Limited functionality, but points could be easily colour coded for a simple visualisation
Google Maps API, Javascript & HTML A manual way of displaying a Google Map on a webpage. Allows for full control over what is displayed. Google Maps API was very tricky to work with. Took a bit of working out how to get points and info boxes to display correctly.

The selected solution for going forward

Google Sheets Used for compiling flint finds into one file from multiple csv files. Easily allowed multiple users to work on the same spreadsheet at the same time
Close up of hand holding a lithic
Close up of hand holding a lithic

Header and other images of lithics by Mesolithic Deeside on Wikimedia Commons CC-BY-SA

1914 – 1920 Aberdeen Harbour Arrivals Transcription Project – CTC20 update

Building on our foundations

After such a successful weekend at CTC19, we were delighted to be back for CTC20 to continue work on the Aberdeen Harbour Arrivals project. As expected, the team working on the project was made up of both avid coders and history enthusiasts which brings a great range of skills and knowledge to the weekend.
A second spreadsheet was created to input adjustments, this allowed us to clean data to be more presentable whilst keeping the accurate ledger transcriptions intact; a must when dealing with archival material. This data cleaning has allowed us to create a more presentable website which is easier to understand and navigate.

Expanding the data set

The adjustments spreadsheet also included the addition of a new column of information sourced externally from the original transcription documents. When first registered fishing vessels were assigned a Fishing Port Registration Number. Where known, that number has been added and will hopefully allow us to cross reference this vessels with other sources at some point in the future.

Vessel types and roles

Initial steps were taken to begin to create a better understanding about the various vessels, their history and purpose. Many of the vessel names contain prefixes relating to their type (e.g. HMS – His Majesty’s Ship for a regular naval vessel, HMSS for a submarine) and they have now been extracted and a list of definitions is being built up. Decoding these prefixes highlighted just how much naval military activity was taking place around Aberdeen during the First World War.

Visualising the data

Some of the team also looked forward to consider how the data could be used in the future. A series of graphs and charts have been created to highlight patterns such as most frequent ships and most popular cargo. We even have an interactive map to show where the in the world the ships were arriving from.

As with CTC19, the weekend has been a great success. Archivists learned more about data and the coders benefitted from over 15,000 records to play with.

Next steps

An ideal future step for the project is the creation of individual records in the website for each vessel so we can begin to expand on the information – i.e. vessel name, history of Masters, expanded description about what it was, what role in played in the First World War. Given the heavy use of Wikidata by many of the other projects that were part of CTC19 and CTC20, consideration has to be given to using Wikidata as the expanded repository for building up the bigger picture for each vessel. However, as we are still very much in the historical investigation stage and not entirely sure about the full facts for many vessels it would not be appropriate at this stage to start pushing unverified information into Wikidata.

Aberdeen Built Ships – an update at CTC20

This project was commenced at CTC19 on 11th -12th April. The aim was to import from Aberdeen Built Ships (with the permission of the Galleries and Museums Service who operate it) a complete set of data on those 3000+ ships into Wikidata data in as clean and well-formatted state as possible.

We got part of the way there at CTC19, and in work done in the following weeks, but the data had still not been imported.

CTC20 progress

We had in the weeks since CTC19, we had identified issues with two significant aspects of the data in the core ABS system: a lack of standardisation of ship types (meaning that there were up to nine variants of a single type) and a similar issue with ship builders.

For the purposes of CTC20 we agreed to set these aside and press ahead with an import of core data for each ship we could – and to revisit the specific details above later.

What was done

Core data was imported into Wikidata for most of the ships. We excluded some ships from the import if the name field was blank or UNKNOWN or UNNAMED. Other, existing, ships had an ABS ID added to their item. This has resulted in 3085 ships in Wikidata with an ABS ID at the time of writing.

Screenshot of Samuel Plimsoll
Screenshot of Samuel Plimsoll

Method

We initially tried to use the CSV format for wikidata quickstatements, but couldn’t get this to work so switched to the TSV version. A python script was written to write the quickstatements file that could then be copied into the quickstatements batch import tool. The import had 2 errors for ships that had a range of years in the Date so generated invalid dates in the quickstatements. These (and 2 duplicates that I noticed after the import) are noted to correct later.

The ABS ID property (P8260) was manually added to the ships that already existed in wikidata.

The mappings between QID and ABS ID was found from SPARQL query:

SELECT ?qid ?absid
WHERE
{
  ?qid wdt:P8260 ?absid.
}

Next Steps?

To complete the project the following needs to be done

  • Add Country of Origin (P495) to all existing Aberdeen-built ships in Wikidata. This will suppress the warning messages when viewing each ship.
  • Rationalise all ship builders that exist in ship_builders.csv – deduplicating these and create Wikidata entries for each we will use.
  • Rationalise all ship types that exist in ship_types.csv – deduplicating these and create Wikidata entries for each we will use.
  • Update each ship with specific type and ship builder.
  • Extract / rationalise data from some of the fields, e.g. we have one dimensions field rather than separate fields for length/beam/draft/… and what’s there is inconsistent
  • Isolate ships that have no Wikidata identifier – i.e. any one not in the list of 59 positive matches. Set aside those which have entries for later processing.
  • Source and add pictures of the ships in ABS (see below)
  • Develop a means of monitoring both the original ABS system (rescrape periodically and do a diff on the file in some way? ) and monitor Wikidata for changes to the ships records (Wikidata query, executed periodically, generating a CSV download and checked for differences from previous runs?) to feed back to ABS.

Images of ships

ships with images
Ships with images

Despite there now being 3,085 Aberdeen-built ships in Wikidata only 12 of these (or 0.388%) has a picture associated with them. There is a significant opportunity to work with Aberdeen Museums to add images from their extensive collection to Wiki Commons and associate these with the ships now in Wikidata.

Header image Twice & Rinina25 / CC BY-SA https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Genova-Tall_Ship-IMG_1509.JPG/512px-Genova-Tall_Ship-IMG_1509.JPG

Aberdeenshire Settlements on Wikidata and Wikipedia

Introduction

This project was part of Code The City’s #CTC20 History and Culture hack weekend.

The Challenge

To identify (all of) the settlements – towns, hamlets, villages – in Aberdeenshire and ensure that these are well represented with high quality items on Wikidata and Wikipedia.

Aims

Identify one or more lists of settlements in Aberdeenshire
Use those lists to identify gaps in Wikipedia and WIkidata for Aberdeenshire settlements.
Create Wikidata items, update Wikipedia with a more comprehensive list of settlements and, time permitting, enhance existing Wikipedia articles with Infoboxes, and create new Wikipedia articles where these are missing.

Approach

We began by importing a list from Wikipedia  into Google Sheets using its function

=importHTML(url, item, position)

This gave a list of 183 settlements – with five having missing Wikipedia articles.

To compare, we then wrote an initial Wikidata query  which only returned 10 results. It turned out that there are two (or more) Aberdeenshires in Wikidata (each representing something subtly different) and we used the wrong one.

Amending our query and running the new one   gave us 283 settlements. On checking we saw that  they included the 10 above too. It also included whether the item had a Wikipedia article associated with it. We used this Wikidata list (with a quick python script) to update the original Wikipedia list page above.

Adding Images / WikiShootMe

We further updated the query adding whether there was a photo associated with the item giving firstly these results and, by changing the default view to map, we could see where the coordinates were placing each point. The vast majority (est. 90% ) of items had no photograph.

By following this tutorial that Ian had created recently,  we were able to create a custom clickable map in the WikiShootMe tool. This means that anyone can click on a red dot, and choose to take or upload a photo of the settlement and have that added to Wiki Commons, and associated automatically with the Wikidata item.

We published that on Twitter and asked for contributions. Not only could someone take and upload a photo, but it also meant that one could search Wiki Commons for a matching image (which hadn’t yet been associated with the Wikidata item) and tell it to use that. Where none existed it was possible to search on Geograph for a locality. The licensing on Geograph is compatible with Wiki Commons’s terms, so if a suitable image was available, we could use the Geograph2Commons tool and import it.

Over the next few days (i.e. beyond the weekend itself), we went from a starting point of about 10% of settlements in Wikidata having photos to about 90%. You can see this on an image grid, or table.

Red dots show missing photos; green, ones found
Red dots show missing photos; green, ones found

Updating Coordinates

Looking closer at the mapped Wikidata, a number of the items’ coordinates were well out (e.g. Rosehearty, Sandhaven New Aberdour etc). We started to fix these. We did this by finding the settlements in our WikiShootme map, right clicking on the correct position and selecting show coordinates, and pasting those back into the Wikidata item.

Where the original coordinates were imported from Wikipedia it raised a warning. We fixed each one in Wikipedia too, as we went. This needs much more error checking and fixing.

Fixing coordinates and uploading images
Fixing coordinates and uploading images

Missing Places

Our list of places started at 183 links on wikipedia, it grew to 283 with wikidata but still it was clear that many of the populous settlements are missing from Wikidata such as Fintry.

Fintray missing
Fintray missing

These can be added manually but we figured there must be a larger list available from another source like OpenStreetMap (OSM). Not knowing how to get this list we put out a tweet for help.

A tweet for help
A tweet for help

@MaxErickson was one those that came to our aid with a query search for overpass turbo (a web-based data filtering tool for OpenStreetMap) which listed all its identified places in Aberdeenshire with coordinates and place types (town, village, hamlet). This gave us over 780 results but many of these were farm steadings or small islands (islets) in the Ythan, with a bit of filter we got it down to 629 places. We plan to add these to Wikidata, but first it’s worth gathering more data on them.

MySociety

We wanted to add more information to these place such as which constituency each was in for Scottish and UK elections. The Boundary Commission for Scotland website has a tool which lets you enter a postcode and returns this information:

Querying the Boundary Commission for Scotland website
Querying the Boundary Commission for Scotland website

After digging around their website we found that they use mapit.mysociety api to do this. Mapit is open-source software but there is a charge for using their api, luckily CodeTheCity is a charity and eligible for free usage so Ian signed us up!  The API accepts a variety of inputs including lat/lon which we got from the turbo query of OSM.

With a bit more python scripting we now have a CSV with 629 places each listed with coordinates, Scottish Parliament region, Scottish Parliament constituency, UK parliament constituency, Health Board and Unitary Authority.

A spreadsheet of enhanced data for Aberdeenshire settlements
A spreadsheet of enhanced data for Aberdeenshire settlements

What Next?

We are going to get the csv uploaded to Wikidata via Quick Statements, to add the missing places, update existing places with Mysociety data and correct any wandering coordinates in wikidata/wikipedia.

  1. Check the Wikidata list with the OSM list for any missing places in the OSM list (ensuring that core data for each place is included).
  2. Add more information to our CSV to allow us to populate Wikipedia infoboxes for these places. This would include
    • Altitude
    • Distance from London (UK Capital)
    • Distance from Edinburgh (Scotland Capital)
    • Postcode district(s)
    • Dial Code(s)
    • Population (may be difficult for smaller settlements)
    • Area (may be difficult for smaller settlements)
  3. Update Wikidata with new places and any edits required to existing places
  4. Update Wikipedia List page as a table from this data.

Gavin Barnett and Ian Watt

06 August 2020