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English Alumnus Rescues Livingstone Diary from Obscurity

Adrian S. Wisnicki (English, 2003), assistant professor of British literature and codirector of the Center for Digital Humanities and Culture at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, headed a team that rescued from obscurity an 1871 field diary by Scottish missionary and explorer David Livingstone. Using spectral imaging technology, the team was able to decipher Livingstone’s now faded red ink, made from the seeds of a local berry, on fragile 140-year-old newspaper, the only kind of paper he had at hand. Livingstone recorded events as they were happening, said Wisnicki, including the horrifying and bewildering massacre of Africans by Arab slave traders, an account that “is very rough, very chaotic.” The project to decipher, analyze, and publish the diary, discovered at the David Livingstone Center, Scotland, has been the subject of a BBC report and articles in the Washington Post and the New York Times. The full text and complementary materials were released on November 1 for free viewing on the Web. See Livingstone’s 1871 Field Diary: A Multispectral Critical Edition at http://livingstone.library.ucla.edu/.

Submitted on: DEC 1, 2011

Category: English, Alumni News