This is the first in a series of posts designed to give our readers a bit of a guided tour around the Dictionary, and to help readers get more out of the site. There’s a lot more in there than you may think.

First up — entries and entities

The Browse bar — on the right of the front page.

All our readers are aware of the great articles we’ve published, written by over 170 different volunteer authors and now amounting to over 1 million words in total.

They range in topic from the most general to the closely focussed, and can be found all together through the Entries browse, available on the front page.

But there are lots of other browse options in that yellow box, and each of them leads you into a different slice of the Dictionary’s data, including Maps, Multimedia, Contributors and (under construction) Subjects.

The 8 blue icons at the top provide ways into the other kind of information the Dictionary has prepared — the ‘entities’.

Every time an author mentions an artefact, building, event, natural feature, organisation, person, place or structure in an entry, a link to that item  is created by Dictionary staff. If there’s no item already in the Dictionary to link to, we create that as well, and go researching to check the name, find relevant dates, make any other connections we can, and provide enough facts to give a short description and outline to the item.

We often add an image, a geographical reference or an alternate name as well. Sometimes we add a link to a well-known external site, such as the Australian Dictionary of Biography. And of course, we search the Dictionary itself, to check if there are any other references to this item that we’ve overlooked up to now. All links are made and checked by hand.

There are now nearly 10,000 of these entities in the Dictionary, and over 20,000 links to them and they are gradually forming a network that connects all the entries.

Each entity page collects all the information we have about an entity, along with all the mentions of that entity in entries, any images we have, and (when we get them all finished) any subject connections we are able to make.

How about an example?

Maybanke Anderson, in the Dictionary of Sydney

Here’s the entity page for Maybanke Anderson, feminist and educationist. The top half shows her description, picture, timeline, names and vital statistics. The right hand column links to an entry about her, pictures of her, and the mentions of her in entries on Dulwich Hill, Hunters Hill and Norman Selfe (who was her brother). These links take you directly to the section of the article where Maybanke is mentioned, rather than to the top of the entry.

Maybanke Anderson, below the fold

Below the fold (which means you need to scroll down to see) are her relationships, with spouses and family, her occupations, and specific positions she held.

All those blue links go to other entities, whether people or organisations, with connections of their own. Scroll over them, and you’ll get a popup telling you something about the linked entity. You can see Norman Selfe’s popup in that screenshot.

There’s also the beginning of Jan Roberts‘s excellent article about Maybanke Anderson, and the other image we have of her.

This means you don’t have to read reams of text to get around the Dictionary (although you can if you like!). All the entities are connected independently, and you can jump directly from one to the other using the links on entity pages. Thousands of our entities do not yet have entries about them, but that doesn’t mean we know nothing about them. And more connections are being made all the time here at Dictionary HQ.

You’ll come across some intriguing connections bouncing round the Dictionary in this fashion, and some of them will be new to you, and even to our authors. It’s a good way to get a feeling for the complexity and the layers of the Dictionary, and of Sydney’s history.

Other posts in this series:

Finding your way through the Dictionary part 1 — Entities

Finding your way through the Dictionary part 2 — Images

Finding your way through the Dictionary part 3 — Maps

Finding your way through the Dictionary part 4 — Contributors

Finding your way through the Dictionary part 5 — Demographics

Finding your way through the Dictionary part 6 — Roles

Finding your way through the Dictionary part 7 — Subjects

Finding your way through the Dictionary part 8 — Bonus extras

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