Nicola Osborne

I am Digital Education Manager and Service Manager at EDINA, a role I share with my colleague Lorna Campbell. I was previously Social Media Officer for EDINA working across all projects and services. I am interested in the opportunities within teaching and learning for film, video, sound and all forms of multimedia, as well as social media, crowdsourcing and related new technologies.

Upcoming Local History Event: Tales from the Tweed

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Aug 272013

News reaches us of a local history event that we think AddressingHistory users/blog readers, particularly those in the Borders, may be interested in. This guest post from Heather Rea, Edinburgh Beltane Network, explains the project and event Tales from the River Tweed

One intrepid family are about to begin a 97 mile storytelling trek along the River Tweed. Equipped with walking boots, waterproofs and a ukulele, Ross Winter and Sophia Collins, and 6 week old baby Taliesin, will walk from one end of the Tweed to the other this September. It’s all part of a project to celebrate the River Tweed, its landscape and its stories.

People on the Banks of the Tweed by Flickr User Bods / Andrew Bowden

People on the Banks of the Tweed by Flickr User Bods / Andrew Bowden

The family will stop at various places along the way and put on events – in village halls, pubs, museums and schools. Each event will feature traditional storytelling and talks from Tweed experts, followed by a ‘story sharing’ session where members of the audience can tell their own tales about the river. “Scotland is world-famous for its natural landscape, and also for its story-telling tradition, so it seemed to make sense to bring them together.”, says Sophia.

“This is the first project of its type in the world and we’re delighted that the Scottish Government and Creative Scotland have been forward-thinking enough to fund it.”

“I like the idea that the river has seen so much history and has always been a place that people are drawn to, a thing that connects people together” says Ross. One way that they’ll be ‘connecting people’ will be through their website which will include photos, drawings, journals and audio recordings of stories they have collected as they walk along the river, and from the people they meet. Sophia says:

We’re like wandering medieval bards, but with laptops, iPhones and sound recorders.

Find out when and where the events will be and follow their journey on the Tales from the Tweed Blog:

You can also view a Preview here:

YouTube Preview Image

If you have tales from the River Tweed to share please do get in touch with Sophia, Ross and Taliesin would love to hear from you and to welcome you along to the events they are planning. Contact details are on the website and Sophia can be contacted via

Feb 172012

We are extremely excited to let you know that you can now explore an “Augmented Reality” version of AddressingHistoryusing your iPhone or Android device. You can stand on a street in Edinburgh and see who used to live there!

How does it work?

The AddressingHistory layer works with the Layar App to compare information about your current location (from your phone) and the geo-referenced entries in AddressingHistory to work out which historical residents and businesses used to be located near where you are standing at that moment. These are displayed as “points of interest” – little icons that hover over the appropriate locations.

On your phone you will see these points of interest – historical people and places of business – overlaid on a live image from your camera. Moving the camera around lets you see historical addresses in all directions. Tapping on the resident brings up their record from AddressingHistory and will sometimes be illustrated with an icon representing the profession of that addressee.

Screenshot of the AddressingHistory Augmented Reality layer.

Screenshot of the AddressingHistory Augmented Reality layer.

Above is a screen capture of the view at night looking out of our offices but we will add some additional images to the website along with more information about how to use the layer shortly.

 It all sounds complicated but it’s actually very easy to use once you are all up and running.

How to Install 

To use the AddressingHistory Augmented Reality layer you will need to download and install the Layar App on a compatible iPhone, Android or Nokia phone.  Once you have done this and have opened the app you need to add the AddressingHistory layer as a favourite. To do this search for “Addressing History” within the App. Alternatively you can do directly to the layer page ( as shown below:

Image of the Addressing History Layer download screen.

Image of the Addressing History Layer download screen.


QR code leading to the AddressingHistory Augmented Reality layer

Once you have added the AddressingHistory layer as a favourite you can start exploring the history of Edinburgh street by street – a perfect weekend activity!

The layer was built by the very talented EDINA software engineers using the buildAR tool. If you are interested in finding out more about the properly geeky parts of creating great geographic content for mobile phones then take a look at the occasional EDINA Mobile Geo blog.

Please do give the layer a try and let us know what you think – we think you’ll agree that this is a fantastic new way to browse AddressingHistory. We’d love to hear your feedback and experiences.

And if you think this is exciting…

Look out for another update from the AddressingHistory team very shortly with news of what we’ve been working on for the last few months…


LIFE-SHARE Digital Collaboration Colloquium (#lifeshare)

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Oct 062011

On 29th March 2011 Nicola, from the Addressing History team, gave a short “Pecha Kucha” presentation on AddressingHistory at the LIFE-SHARE Digital Collaboration Colloquium in Sheffield. LIFE-SHARE has been a project looking at digitisation and digital preservation of historical materials across three universities (Leeds, Sheffield and York) and the event focused on sharing experiences and ideas about the ways in which digital materials can be made available and shared with wider communities.

You can view Nicola’s presentation – which won the best Pecha Kucha prize! – on Slideshare or here:

Nicola had hoped to liveblog the day but for various technical reasons had to save her notes for later hence this very belated write up.

Continue reading »

Guest Blog Post: Whose Town? a heritage project for schools

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Sep 082011

This week we have a guest post about the Whose Town? Project from Clare Padgett, Library Services Officer at Edinburgh City Libraries and part of the Whose Town? team. We bumped into her at the Scottish Association of Family History Societies Conference and she kindly offered to let AddressingHistory blog readers know more about this new resource about Edinburgh’s past.

School pupils across Edinburgh are getting to grips with an award-winning new digital teaching resource which uses real life case studies to illustrate key periods of history.

Whose Town? is an award-winning and innovative resource for teaching Social Studies developed by Edinburgh City Libraries. The resource is aimed at pupils aged between 8 and 13 and is linked to the Curriculum for Excellence, second, third and fourth levels. It is available on Glow, the Scottish schools’ intranet and on free CD.

Whose Town? looks at Edinburgh’s past from the 1850s to the 1950s through the eyes of people who lived there. Continue reading »

Guest Blog Post: SPIRES Network Technological Spaces Event

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Sep 022011

We have a short guest blog post this week from Mòrag Burgon-Lyon of SPIRES who have an event coming up in October that should be of interest to those using AddressingHistory.

SPIRES is a network for researchers, young, old and somewhere in between, in academia, industry and leisure.  They run seminars and workshops, provide travel funding for these and other events, promote discussion and generally support members in any way they can. Anyone can join SPIRES (it’s free!) and you can find out more about how to do this on their about page.

The SPIRES (Supporting People who Investigate Research Environments and Spaces) network would like to invite some leisure researchers to join our next workshop on Technological Spaces at City University, London on 7th October.  We aim to get people together from academia, industry and leisure research for networking, and to better understand the physical, social and digital environments in which research is conducted.

The day will comprise short talks of around 15 minutes on various topics, discussion sessions and group activities.  Confirmed talks include a digital curator from the British Library about the Growing Knowledge exhibition and some academic projects on digital tools including SerenA (a Serendipity Arena) and Brain (Building Research and Innovation Networks).  More talks are in the pipeline from academic and industry speakers.

If you would like to present a short talk about your research, and the tools (digital and otherwise) you use, we would love to hear from you!  If you would rather not present a talk, but would still like to attend the workshop, or just join the SPIRES network (it is free, and there are lots of benefits) please get in touch.  Assistance with travel costs is available for workshop attendees, (though please check with me before booking travel) and lunch will be provided.  Contact @SPIRES13 on Twitter, or email  Further information is also available on our website

May 272011

We’ve been hinting on the blog for a while that we hope to bring you some improvements to AddressingHistory and we are finally able to bring you more news on those developments…

Earlier this year we kicked off several months work (using internal funds) to improve AddressingHistory with our developer, George, currently working on some very clever ways to improve the way address information from the directories is parsed (understood by machine) that will help us to present historical directory information more clearly and more accurately. The work will address some of the feedback we have had on AddressingHistory since we launched and it should mean that it is much easier to find your way around the maps and lists of search results.

We are not only improving what is already in place but we are also hoping to add some new directories including several fom cities outside of Edinburgh – one of which we know a lot of AddressingHistory users will be pleased to see. We can’t tell you more for now but we are confident you will be able to see a really positive difference once the changes are rolled out later this year. Keep an eye on this blog for updates over the coming months.

Finally we were delighted to see a post by Dr Peter Mattews, a lecturer at the School of the Built Environment at Heriot Watt University, on his excellent Urbanity and History blog.  Peter recently found out about AddressingHistory through his Twitter account and decided to use it to look at the distribution of advocates in Edinburgh and how that changes with the development of the New Town. His blog post “Historical development and concentrations of affluence” includes some more background and some screen shots of the maps he created through AddressingHistory.

We love to hear about how you are using AddressingHistory and are always happy to feature research and interesting discoveries here on the blog so please do leave comments here, let us know about your own blog posts and websites or get in touch via email ( if you have a story to share.


Guest Post: Census 2011

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Mar 272011

Today is UK Census day and to celebrate – and encourage any last minute form filling in – we have asked James Crone, of the UK Borders service (more on which later in this post) to tell us a bit more about the Census and why it creates such a valuable legacy for future genealogical researchers.

Scottish Census Logo

There has been a census held in the UK every 10 years since 1801 with the exception of 1941 during which the country was preoccupied fighting the second world war. The idea is to capture a snapshot in time so Census Day, which is Sunday 27th March 2011 this year, is the day on which this snapshot is based – even if you complete the census before or after this date you should fill in the form as it would be on this day. Historically Census volunteers would visit households on the day to complete the forms but this year households can, for the first time, fill out their forms online (if you haven’t filled out your form yet click the links for the Scottish Census or the England, Wales & Northern Irish Census).

England, Wales and Northern Ireland Census LogoThe tagline of the 2011 UK Census is “help tomorrow take shape”. Readers of the AddressingHistory blog will no doubt be aware of the value of the data to family and local historians since each census captures the names, relationships, and professions of those living at every address in the UK – a hugely rich resource when combined with birth, marriage, and death certificates, yearly Post Office Directories (like those in AddressingHistory), letters, pictures, etc.

Detailed Census data is only released for public use 100 years after it’s collection (for privacy reasons) which makes 2011 both Census year and, in April, the first opportunity for genealogists and historians to see the 1911 Census in detail. However data collected as part of the census has a wide variety of uses as soon as it is collected, these include:

  • An accurate population count helps the government to calculate the grants it allocates to local authorities and health authorities (some examples of how statistics indicate areas of need are highlighted in the recent This is Britain with Andrew Marr programme on the Census).
  • Data collected and analysed about the age, social and economic make up of the population, and on general health and long-term illness, enables the government and local authorities to plan and fund health and social services.
  • Information about housing and its occupants indicates where accommodation is inadequate and helps in planning new housing.
  • Knowing how many people work in different occupations helps government, local authorities and businesses to plan jobs and training policies.
  • Information about travel to and from work and car ownership highlights the pressures on transport systems and how road and public transport could be improved to meet local needs.
  • Information about ethnic groups helps central and local government to plan and fund programmes to meet the needs of  minority groups.
  • Population statistics enable licensed census distributors to create business planning software products.
  • Census statistics help research organizations to decide how, when and where to capture representative samples.
  • Population statistics help businesses to decide where to locate or expand their premises to reflect local demand and the available workforce.

Within the UK researchers and students are able to access the outputs derived from the census through the ESRC Census Programme and Census data and here at EDINA we run the UKBORDERS service which provides access to digital boundaries which represent the geography of the census.

Students and researchers use data from the ESRC Census Programme to support a wide range of academic research. Recently a researcher from Bangor University mapped data from the 1991 and 2001 censuses in order to understand the geographic distribution of welsh speakers in north wales. Using this data the researcher was able to explore where the welsh language was thriving or in decline and understand how this pattern has changed over time.

A great deal of information about the 2011 census is available from dedicated sites run by the Office for National Statistics and the General Register Office for Scotland.

Image from the Census-Man Online Game

Someone to keep an eye out for in the run up to March 27th is Census Man! You can even play a special Census Man Game (it’s not giving too much away to say that completing and posting your form successfully will lead to bonus points!)

Upcoming AddressingHistory Activity

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Mar 102011

This is a super short post to let you know that we are preparing to make some changes, improvements and expansions to AddressingHistory. We can’t say much more at the moment but we will post a fuller update here later in the spring.

We are also looking for new guest bloggers and stories of how you have been using AddressingHistory since we launched in November.  To get in touch leave a comment here or email us:

AddressingHistory – Site & Blog Downtime

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Feb 072011

This is a brief post to let you know that AddressingHistory may be “at risk” over the next few weeks due to refurbishment work being undertaken on the University of Edinburgh machine room.

The AddressingHistory site and this blog are likely to be entirely unavailable from 5th – 7th February (last weekend) and over the period from Friday 18th February to Monday 21st February.  Apologies for the late notice of this work and for any inconvenience this may cause.

Story of a Nation

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Jan 242011

Last spring we blogged about “Story of England” (titled “English Story” at the time), a major Michael Wood series looking at the history of England through the prism of the community of Kibworth in Leicestershire. The AddressingHistory team very much enjoyed the series when it was aired last year particularly as the series placed the local community at the centre of its explorations of the history of the place and its people. We are therefore delighted to hear that a follow up series, Story of a Nation is currently being developed!

Story of a Nation will be looking at the history of the entire UK and the programme makers, Maya Vision International, have been in touch to see if we can help with a rather specific request for help. The team are seeking possible projects in Scotland around the Black Death and around Calvinism. The production team are keen to ensure that these projects involve the local community – as they did for Story of England – and are very interested to hear any possible ideas for projects or to connect to existing activity around Scottish history of this era.

For instance you might be aware of colourful local accounts or archaeological sites that relate to the Black Death or the surrounding era (from around 1300 to around 1500). It may be that your local history or community group may have a special interest in, or your ancestors may have strong connections to Calvinism in Scotland, the Protestant Reformation or indeed to key figures of this movement such as John Knox. Or it could be that you enjoyed Story of England and had a great idea for a project that would work in your local community for these historical periods.

So, if you or your local history or archaeology group are already active in this area, if you know of a particular connection or have a great idea to explore further then please get in touch with us ( as soon as possible and we will forward your message or contact details to the team at Maya Vision International.

We think this will be a really interesting series so would definitely encourage you to send in your ideas!