23/02/2021 : Dr. Annemieke Romein – Entangled histories: datafication of printed books of ordinances in the Low Countries (1550-1800s)

Wébinar « Print and Power in Early Modern Europe »

Over time, there have been various ways of collecting early modern ordinances. At the time itself, the compilations focused on the administrative and legal practices – and functioned as useful books of reference. From the 1840s onwards, archives aided by – mostly legal – specialists collected all sorts of ordinances and placed these in volumes. From the 1950s researchers started to get involved in the whole process and added letters, resolutions and somethings even petitions to the whole scope of collected sources.

With the possibilities Digital Humanitities bring, another means of compiling collections of ordinances appears. The project Entangled Histories used the early modern printed normative texts. The computer used to have significant problems in reading Dutch Gothic print or even Dutch Roman print, which is used in many of the sources. Using the Handwritten Text Recognition suite Transkribus, the Entangled Histories-team reprocessed the original scans with poor quality OCR, obtaining a Character Error Rate (CER) much lower than our initial expectations of  <5% CER. This result is a significant improvement that enables the searching through 75,000 pages of printed normative texts from 108 books originating from the seventeen provinces.

Each text (norm) in the books concerns one or more topics or categories. A selection of normative texts was manually labelled with internationally used (hierarchical) categories. Using Annif, a tool for automatic subject indexing, the computer was trained to apply the categories by itself. Automatic metadata makes it easier to search relevant texts and allows further analysis.

This presentation will talk about the steps taken into the pilot study of datafication (data-extraction) of early modern ordinances and what possibilities this will offer in the (near) future.

Practical information / informations pratiques

Time / Heure : 12h30-14h

Online meeting via Microsoft TEAMS / Réunion en ligne via Microsoft TEAMS

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