The JISC-Funded AddressingHistory project, led by the EDINA at the University of Edinburgh in partnership with the National Library of Scotland has created an online crowdsourcing tool and API which enables a broad spectrum of users to combine data from digitised historical Scottish Post Office Directories (POD) with contemporaneous historical maps.

Crowd-sourcing through the AddressingHistory tool has the potential to lead to a fully geo-coded version of the digitised directories thus providing significant added-value to the genealogists, local historians and specialist researchers across multiple disciplines.

This phase of the project focused on three eras of Edinburgh mapping and Post office Directories (1784-5, 1865, 1905-6) however the technologies deployed are scalable for the full collection of c.700 Post Office Directories covering the whole of Scotland. An AddressingHistory API was also developed which allows access to the raw data for use in another website or application such as Google Earth.

Phase 2 funding sought to develop functionality complementary to the original work and to broaden geographic coverage of content. Work included improving spatial searching, streamlining the POD parsing process to reduce OCR error, and enhancing the geo-parsing process which automatically assigns a geo-reference to POD entries (utilising the Google geocoding API - for futher information see: https://developers.google.com/maps/documentation/geocoding/). Multiple addresses (i.e. entries where individuals may have a domestic address and one or more business addresses) were also made explicit for searching purposes.

Additional content for Edinburgh as well as the cities of Glasgow and Aberdeen (1881, 1891) to coincide with census years are now available as well as an AddressingHistory Augmented Reality layer for mobile devices which can be accessed free of charge through the Layar application (also available through iTunes, the Android Market, BlackBerry AppWorld and the Nokia App store).

You can search the Post Office Directories for surnames, professions and placenames. The online tool also allows you to edit and enhance the information we have already extracted from the digitised Post Office Directories. You do not need to register or login to search and explore AddressingHistory. However by registering for an account you will be able place historical addresses on the map, edit addresses, names and professions thus enhancing the original resource.

Access to the AddressingHistory tool and API are not restricted and content is provided under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.5 UK: Scotland Licence. This means that you may access, copy, distribute and make derivative works from the content as long as you attribute AddressingHistory as the source of the content of the Site and make your own copy or derivative works available under the same type of Creative Commons licence.

The AddressingHistory POD parser is available to use under a GNU General Public License, a free, copyleft license for software and other kinds of works. Thus Genealogists, researchers or local historians wishing to parse and geo-reference Scottish Post Office Directories that are not currently available within AddressingHistory can contact the AddressingHistory team at: addressing.history@ed.ac.uk

AddressingHistory is run by EDINA, working in partnership with the National Library of Scotland.

AddressingHistory was originally funded as part of the JISC's Developing Community Content programme which funded a number of projects at UK universities to create and use digital content useful for those involved in Higher Education, but also for various communities within the broader general public.

Follow up funding for a second development phase was provided by internal EDINA funding.

AddressingHistory Blog