The Bargrave Collection is part of a project titled The Digital Ark, an archive of artefacts and natural specimens as represented by surviving records of early modern collections, museum databases, contemporary drawings and engravings, as well as images of extant remnants of these collections. Initially, this database will focus on England and Scotland from 1580-1700, beginning with the collection of Walter Cope and ending with Ralph Thoresby. It will include any collection that aimed at diversity of both natural specimens and artefacts that were valued for being unusual, rare, or exotic. It will therefore exclude collections that were singular in focus (e.g. exclusively numismatic or art collections) but will include, for instance, collections that are chiefly naturalia if they contain at least one other class of object (antiquities for example) and an interest in the strange and exotic. While it will begin with a geographically limited focus, this database will be structured and designed to be inter-operable with related materials pertaining to other geographical regions and will make provisions for participation and contribution by the wider community of interested users.
Much of the research and documentation for this portion of the DigitalArk was produced as part of a study abroad course in the Classical, Medieval, and Renaissance Studies program at the University of Saskatchewan (July 2011) in cooperation with Cressida Williams of the Canterbury Cathedral Archives. These student researchers are Eleanor Coulter, Guy Hucq, Klaas deJong, Jennifer Pidlisny, Colleen Smith, and Sarah Vela from the class of 2011; and Tricia Ashbee, Kristy Bieber, Kyle Dase, Christina Fowlie-Neufeld, Brayden Huczek, James Hawkes, John Lozinsky, Joanna Munholland, Megan Wall from the class of 2014.
The Bargrave Collection is an Alpha-stage prototype of larger project, taking one collector as an example for modeling the way in which we will link and display data across diverse media. This is very much a work in progress.