History of MoEML

Now the city being like a vast sea, full of gusts, fearful-dangerous shelves and rocks, ready at every storm to sink and cast away the weak and unexperienced bark Gap in transcription. Reason: Editorial omission for reasons of length or relevance. Use only in quotations in born-digital documents.[…] I, like another Columbus or Drake Gap in transcription. Reason: Editorial omission for reasons of length or relevance. Use only in quotations in born-digital documents.[…] have drawn you this chart or map for your guide as well out of mine own as my many friends experience. (Henry Peacham, The Art of Living in London [1642])


MoEML has some claim to call itself a late first-generation digital humanities project, having launched as an intranet site and pedagogical tool at the University of Windsor in 1999.1 MoEML’s history begins in 1997, however, when Janelle Jenstad first remediated the Agas map.
In January 2015, MoEML reached Version 5.1, after a early history of fits and starts. Since the entire project was re-encoded in TEI in 2005-2006, followed by a quiet internet launch in August 2006, MoEML has had a continuous web presence. The current version of MoEML is a static Web site, built according to the principles of UVic’s Project Endings. Most major project developments since April 2013 are documented in MoEML’s Project Plans, Progress Charts, Release Notes, News pages, Blog, and Facebook and Twitter streams.
1997 Pre-history Laminated printed map
1999 v.1 HTML
2001 v.2 HTML (frames)
2006 v.3 XML and TEI P4
2011 v.4 TEI P5
2013 v.5 + Historical GIS
2015 v.5.1 + Open Layers 3.0
2018 v.6.3 First static build, but using eXist XML DB for search.
2020 v.6.4 First pure Endings-compliant static build, using the Project Endings staticSearch codebase for search.

Version 1

In 1999, three students in Dr. Colin Atkinson’s Writing Hypertext course (English 208) at the University of Windsor were looking for a project and a supervisor. Jenstad offered her 6ft 3in laminated Agas Map. It took two months to scan the map in sections and create the first version of the site.

Version 2

MoEML v2 home page, 2001
MoEML v2 home page, 2001
Jenstad’s research assistant, Tara Drouillard, then defined the look of the site feature above and created most of the pages. James Campbell and Joanna Hutz continued Drouillard’s work by adding pages and bringing all the existing pages into stylistic uniformity.

Pedagogical Tool

By 2002, Map of Early Modern London had become deeply embedded in Jenstad’s classroom practice. In the first iteration of this project history (written around 2004), Jenstad wrote that:
The Agas Map is one of my favourite teaching tools. I use it to demonstrate the geographical relationship between the city and Renaissance theatres, to map out the routes of processions and pageants, and to show how the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later the King’s Men) moved their business operations from the Theatre in the north, to the Globe on the Bankside on the south side of the Thames, to the Blackfriars complex in the heart of the City of London.
Select students in Jenstad’s Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama classes between 2001 and 2003 undertook hypertext research projects in lieu of a standard research essay. In those days—before WordPress, Facebook, and Twitter—students had to learn to write for an online environment. Writing hypertext demanded a different kind of organizational structure than the conventional essay: shorter segments of writing, embedded hyperlinks, headings, lists, shorter sentences, different punctuation choices (semi-colons still don’t render well on screen, grammatically useful though they are), and inter-linked rather than linear arguments. Jenstad asked each student to generate the equivalent of 8-10 pages of text divided between pages, and to indicate the links they would like created between their own pages and existing pages of the website. Each project demanded both historical research and literary application. After submission and grading, the student made all necessary corrections before the group edited the project together.
Only a few of those HTML projects were re-encoded in XML when the site was rebuilt in 2005-2006. Still visible are a number of wonderful projects that came out of a graduate course on Pageantry, Play, and Performance in Early Modern England in Spring 2000, including a critical introduction to and diplomatic transcription of The Queen’s Majesty’s Passage by MA Student Jennie Butler. Laura Estill, who went on to join MoEML’s Editorial Board many years later, wrote a brief history of the Whitefriars Theatre. The work of other University of Windsor students is evident throughout the site, in the form of articles, influence, or early encoding choices: Victoria Abboud, Jennifer Lo, Kimberley Martin, and others.

The Long Hiatus

In 2003, Jenstad moved from the University of Windsor to the University of Victoria. She took the intranet site files with her, but the project entered a two-year dormant period. Editing the HTML site had become a challenge because of the sheer size of the site.

Version 3

TaPOR, HCMC, and the Layered Map

In early 2005, the TaPOR project gave some residual funding to MoEML. The project was taken under the aegis of the Humanities Computing and Media Centre (HCMC) at the University of Victoria. Under the direction of Stewart Arneil, Mike Elkink and David Badke re-encoded the site in XML. Jenstad used SSHRC funding to pay Melanie Chernyk to draw points and shapes on the map surface using Inkscape. The HCMC developers created a map interface that allowed us to view various types of locations in isolation or in various combinations by checking or unchecking boxes. They had effectively created layered map functionalities just before GoogleMaps launched the tools that have entirely changed how people navigate around cities and the planet.


In 2005, Jenstad and Chernyk took a course in TEI-XML, the XML language of the Text Encoding Initiative. The course was offered at the University of Victoria through the Digital Humanities Summer Institute. The instructors were Syd Bauman and Julia Flanders.

Public Launch

In August 2006, once the site was entirely encoded in TEI P4 and all of the map points transferred to the new map surface, the Map of Early Modern London website was quietly released as an open-access website at the URL mapoflondon.uvic.ca. Chernyk and Jenstad continued to add new locations and content to the site, with the goal of expanding the locations beyond those obviously visible on the Agas Map.

Version 4

In 2011, Martin Holmes, a staff developer in HCMC, became MoEML’s Lead Programmer. He was responsible for re-encoding the entire site in TEI P5, drawing on his extensive knowledge of TEI from his service on TEI Council. At the same time, Holmes moved all the files into a Subversion repository, where the entire project was under version control for the first time.

Version 5

Funding from SSHRC

Central to MoEML’s success was a Standard Research Grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, awarded in 2012 and put the project on a secure footing until 2016. The funding allowed for an expansion of the team. In February 2013, post-doctoral fellow Dr. Kim McLean-Fiander came to MoEML from the Cultures of Knowledge Project at the University of Oxford. She was the first to see that MoEML had evolved into four discreet projects: the map, the encyclopedia, a library of primary texts rich in London toponyms, and an edition of John Stow’s 1598 Survey of London.

Site Redesign

McLean-Fiander worked with web designer Patrick Szpak to come up with a new look for MoEML. Jenstad suggested that the project take inspiration from the Cheapside Hoard, a collection of late sixteenth-century and early seventeenth-century jewellery discovered in a Cheapside cellar in 1912. McLean-Fiander and Szpak designed the MoEML daisy, inspired by the enamel flowers of a chain found at the site. The colour scheme came from early modern portraits, banners, and coats of arms; it nodded to the city’s traditional scarlet but picked up the deeper reds of other textiles. The home page of the site had four tiles linking to the four main components of the site: the Map, the Encylopedia, the Library, and Stow’s Survey. This new version (v5) of the site was launched in December 2013.

Documenting our Praxis

With increased funding and a larger team came the capacity to turn MoEML’s internal training documents into full public-facing documentation. In 2012, a decision was made that every aspect of the project would be open-access, including the project’s training documentation. Over time, Praxis has grown to become a model to other projects, used to learn TEI and to train new RAs. Praxis is revised and expanded regularly to reflect MoEML’s evolving practice and new capabilities.

GIS Capabilities

In 2013 the MoEML team added GIS capabilities and integration with GoogleMaps to the site. The latitude and longitude coordinates for points (sites), lines (streets), and polygons (buildings if the footprint was known) were added for about 250 locations. The GoogleMaps API was used to render these coordinates on the GoogleMaps interface so that users could see the location on the Agas Map and on a modern map. The team has since replaced the GoogleMaps API with MoEML’s own API and tiles from the OpenStreetMap project.

Pedagogical Partnerships

In spring 2014, MoEML launched two pilot pedagogical partnerships with Peter Herman at the University of California San Diego and Kate McPherson at Utah Valley University. Herman and his students researched and wrote the MoEML entry on the Blackfriars Theatre, while McPherson and her students wrote the MoEML entry on the Curtain.

A New Map Interface

In 2012, MoEML worked with the London Metropolitan Archives to obtain fresh digital scans of their copy of the Agas Map. Over the course of 2013 and 2014, Greg Newton of HCMC stitched together the scans and made thousand of microcorrections along the seam lines of the map’s eight sections. McLean-Fiander and Jenstad created a modern edition of the map, correcting some of the lines and interpolating new material along the Smithfield seam line and the Durham House seam line. The team used archaeological, cartographic, and pictorial evidence to reconstruct the missing pieces of the map, effectively creating an idealized modern version of the Agas Map. The team then redrew the coordinates of all the locations on the Agas Map, capturing points, lines, and polygons as XY pixel points. To facilitate this work, Holmes and Newton built drawing tools for the map so team members could draw on the digital map and capture pre-encoded TEI that could be simply added to the <teiHeader> of the encyclopedia article.

Version 6

Static Site

From 2016 to 2018, MoEML relied on internal research grants, a grant from the University of Victoria Libraries, workstudy funding, and a percentage of the funding from a SSHRC Insight Grant to the Endings Project. With funds from the latter, MoEML launched its first fully static website in 2018, which meant that MoEML was no longer dependent on a server except for its search function. The grant from UVic Libraries enabled MoEML to ready its gazetteer data for ingestion into the CFI-funded LINCS project.

The Next Phase of MoEML’s History

MoEML foresees a finite but significant amount of work ahead. Our New Directions sets out the milestones in our immediate future. Over the long term, there are enough toponym-rich texts to keep MoEML editors and encoders busy for many years, should we choose to keep expanding the Library. As funding and time permit, we also respond to developments in our field and use MoEML as a testbed for new technologies and new ways of linking, tagging, visualizing, and conceptualizing early modern texts and data. In his introduction to the Special Cluster entitled Done in Issue 3.2 of Digital Humanities Quarterly, Matthew G. Kirschenbaum asks How do we know when we’re done? In 2021, we know that we are not done. But in anticipation of a far-off day when we do write done next to the final milestone, we are future-proofing our project and data according to best practices (some of which we are developing) so that MoEML’s texts and functionalities will continue to be available to scholars, teachers, students, and the general public.


  1. See Susan Hockey’s The History of Humanities Computing for an overview of the field to 2004. (JJ)


  • Citation

    Hockey, Susan. The History of Humanities Computing. A Companion to Digital Humanities. Ed. Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth. Blackwell, 2004. Remediated by XTF. [Direct link to chapter.]

    This item is cited in the following documents:

  • Citation

    Kirschenbaum, Matthew G. Done: Finishing Projects in the Digital Humanities. Digital Humanities Quarterly 3.2 (2009).

    This item is cited in the following documents:

  • Citation

    Peacham, Henry. The Art of Living in London. 1642. The Complete Gentleman, The Truth of Our Times, and The Art of Living in London. Ed. Virgil B. Heltzel. Ithaca: Cornell UP for the Folger Shakespeare Library, 1962. 243–50.

    This item is cited in the following documents:

Cite this page

MLA citation

Jenstad, Janelle. History of MoEML. The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 7.0, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 05 May 2022, mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/history.htm.

Chicago citation

Jenstad, Janelle. History of MoEML. The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 7.0. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed May 05, 2022. mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/history.htm.

APA citation

Jenstad, J. 2022. History of MoEML. In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London (Edition 7.0). Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/editions/7.0/history.htm.

RIS file (for RefMan, RefWorks, EndNote etc.)

Provider: University of Victoria
Database: The Map of Early Modern London
Content: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

A1  - Jenstad, Janelle
ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - History of MoEML
T2  - The Map of Early Modern London
ET  - 7.0
PY  - 2022
DA  - 2022/05/05
CY  - Victoria
PB  - University of Victoria
LA  - English
UR  - https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/history.htm
UR  - https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/xml/standalone/history.xml
ER  - 

TEI citation

<bibl type="mla"><author><name ref="#JENS1"><surname>Jenstad</surname>, <forename>Janelle</forename></name></author>. <title level="a">History of MoEML</title>. <title level="m">The Map of Early Modern London</title>, Edition <edition>7.0</edition>, edited by <editor><name ref="#JENS1"><forename>Janelle</forename> <surname>Jenstad</surname></name></editor>, <publisher>U of Victoria</publisher>, <date when="2022-05-05">05 May 2022</date>, <ref target="https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/history.htm">mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/history.htm</ref>.</bibl>