Get started with ‘Britain and UK Handbooks’ with this Jupyter Notebook.

Whether or not you have experience programming or working with data, this Notebook will give you a starting point for analysing digitised text. Using Python and several of its libraries, including Pandas and Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK), the Notebook demonstrates how to:

– Load a folder of text (.TXT) files as a corpus

– Create meaningful subsets of the medical papers in the corpus

– Ask questions about the words, sentences, and topics discussed in the papers

Questions this Notebook can help you begin investigating include:

– How has the UK portrayed itself to the outside world?

– What authoritative statistics are available about the UK from 1954-2005?

– Which topics were added to and removed from the Handbooks over the years? 

– Which topics were written about with more or less detail as the years passed?

Britain and UK Handbooks

If you have never used a Jupyter Notebook before, we recommend visiting Tim Sherratt’s introduction to Jupyter Notebooks.

A note on the data

The text used in the Exploring Britain and UK Handbooks Jupyter Notebook was digitised with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and has not been manually corrected. As a result, certain words and numbers may not be accurately represented. For example, the word “Capital” may appear as “Capita!”. Analysis conducted in the Notebook should thus be viewed as a source of estimates and a guide for further research.

Additionally, due to the historical nature of the dataset (the Handbooks included were published as early as 1954), the language may include terms or sentiments that are considered inappropriate today. The language of the Handbooks does not reflect the values of the National Library of Scotland. Rather, the language of the Handbooks reflects historical values that offer insight on historical perceptions of places and people.

Access the Notebook

Explore Britain and UK Handbooks in one of three ways:

View in your browser

Open a static version of the Notebook in your browser.

Run an interactive version

Run an interactive version of the Notebook in Binder.

Please note that the interactive version may take several minutes to load.

Download from GitHub

Download from GitHub to run locally on your machine with Jupyter Lab, Anaconda, or Miniconda.

Cite this Notebook


Dataset creator: National Library of Scotland

Dataset publisher: National Library of Scotland

Publication year: 2020

Suggested citation: National Library of Scotland. Exploring Britain and UK Handbooks. National Library of Scotland, 2020.

Which dataset did this project use?

This project used Britain and UK Handbooks: Britain and UK Handbooks on the Data Foundry website