Where do the images come from?

Johnson’s Dictionary Online has benefited from the generous help of two libraries: The Warren N. and Suzanne B. Cordell Collection of Dictionaries at the Indiana State University Library, and the George A. Smathers Libraries at the University of Florida. The full-page images on our site come from UF:

  • 1755 (1st folio) edition: ESTC T117231,  UF shelfmark 423.2 J69d 1755, folio
  • 1773 (4th folio) edition: ESTC T117232,  UF shelfmark PE1620 .J6 1773 Folio

(except for two pages in the 1773 edition, Needlessly – Nep, that come from ISU).

But that’s not where we started. Back when we were first putting our project together, we looked to see if anyone had already scanned the dictionary editions that we needed. And someone had! The dictionaries were both fully scanned, in high resolution, and online at HathiTrust.

Unfortunately, these images are marked “Open Access, Google-digitized,” which (among other things) means that the digital images can’t be re-hosted or redistributed. Because of these restrictions, we needed another source for the images.

The Warren N. and Suzanne B. Cordell Collection of Dictionaries generously agreed to scan their volumes for us. One of their librarians heroically digitized page after page of both editions—a huge job! Over a period of about six months, ISU sent us 4,647 full-page images. We immediately began using these images, both as a copy-text for our transcriptions and to provide full-page views on our website.

We also recruited student volunteers to help us create entry-sized images to appear alongside the transcriptions. These students used freeware called Irfanview to cut each entry out of the full-page image. Where an entry broke across the bottom of a column or a page, they cut multiple pieces and stuck them together. This process took time, but the students did great work!

We met weekly in a computer lab to produce as many images as possible. We found a “thermometer” graphic online that could help us keep track of how many images we finished. After six weeks, here’s what the thermometer looked like:

(Ignore the dollar signs; those came with the thermometer template. What matters are the numbers.) We had finished 2,170 of 43,855 images planned . . . for just the 1755 edition.

Clearly we needed a way to speed things up! Stay tuned for the high-tech strategy we turned to next.