The labs team were excited to be offered the opportunity to work with some unique documents that were officially released by the National Archives of Australia in June 2012.
The list of prisoners of war and civilian internees on board the Montevideo Maru was recently supplied to the Archives by the Japanese government. The lists included an English list which contained the prisoners of war only.
The Japanese list is on PWIB stationery, and details the prisoners of war as well as the civilian internees. The expert's translation of this document revealed that there are 209 civilians on the list, not 208 as stated at the front of the list, and which has been the figure historically quoted until now.
This does not mean that another civilian has been discovered, only that the number historically used was never accurate.
Bringing the beauty of the lists online
The project allowed us to experiment with deep zoom technologies to enhance the viewing experience and provide users with the opportunity to view the delicate penmanship in the Japanese document.
Users can search and view the POW’s and internees on the lists. The names have been linked to the pages of the lists via a grid giving users the ability to see the columns in the Japanese documents which correspond with the name they are searching for.
The Montevideo Maru website gave us the opportunity to include features that we have not generally used in our previous projects. It was built using Twitter bootstrap for the user interface components. They leverage the power of CSS3 to provide all the nice buttons and rounded corners without any images. It was also the foundation for the responsive design which allows the website to scale for tablets and mobile phones. The Jquery framework was used for client side interaction and ASP.NET 4.0 for server side processing.
The main sticking point was how best to display the list so users could interact and enjoy browsing it. It gave us a chance to experiment with Deep Zoom Images which is a technology developed by Microsoft for efficiently viewing high resolution images. It enables you to zoom and pan the image at different resolutions with the main advantage of allowing users to see the beautiful hand written document at a high resolution while maintaining minimal load times.
Find out more at the Montevideo Maru website