In The Colonial Bookshelf, collaborator Daniel Samson and I will begin building a web-based research guide to what was on the bookshelves of late eighteenth- and nineteenth–century Nova Scotia readers. This digital library will make it possible to “read over the shoulders” of colonial Nova Scotians, to be immersed in their world of books and ideas. Just as visitors to Nova Scotia museums can get a sense of the workaday world of colonial residents by walking through period homes, readers of our digital library will be able to page through the books that provided the mental furniture and intellectual vocabulary for their world.
This project will collect, digitally curate, and situate books found in Nova Scotia personal libraries in the 19th century. Using a combination of existing library lists (such as Richard John Uniacke’s from the Nova Scotia Museum) and recreated lists (such as those of Edward Manning and James Barry), and exploring possibilities in Dalhousie University’s Special Collections and collections held in other Nova Scotia Museum affiliates, we envision building an interactive guide to begin tracking the reading habits of colonial Nova Scotian readers.
This project has been awarded a Nova Scotia Museum Cultural History Research Grant and a Brock University Research Seed Grant (BSIG) for 2018-2019.