Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode III: Normalizing 16th century raw text

by Markus Müller

Visiting a museum as a kid, I sometimes wondered why I could hardly read anything in the medieval or early modern books and manuscripts displayed in the exhibition. Even after I learned Latin in school, the situation did not improve. I was not aware that people in former centuries used a lot more abbreviations than today, especially in Latin texts. As long as paper (or parchment) was very expensive, scribes and printers tried to save as much space as possible. Therefore, a sentence like “In principio fecit deus caelum et terram” could be abbreviated as “In prīcipio fecit de celū ťrā” (“In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth” — the first verse of the Bible). You may have noted that these abbreviations worked differently than abbreviations like “WWW” or “U.S.” that we are familiar with today, and it would be nice if they could be resolved automatically with a Python script.

„Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode III: Normalizing 16th century raw text“ weiterlesen

Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode II: Let Python speak to Transkribus

by Markus Müller

In the first episode of this miniseries, I explained how to use OCR with Transkribus to create a diplomatic transcription from images of 16th century Latin prints. However, the resulting text is full of abbreviations and may contain transcription errors. In both cases, Python scripts could help to normalize the text and to detect possible errors.

An indispensable prerequisite for pimping the Transkribus workflow with Python is flawless access to the data stored on the Transkribus server. It would not make much sense to manually download the data, then run some Python scripts on the command line, and finally upload the data again manually, especially when we talk about hundreds of pages to be processed. This episode will show how to download and upload transcriptions from and to the Transkribus server using Python. (Basic to intermediate knowledge of Python is required.)

„Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode II: Let Python speak to Transkribus“ weiterlesen

Priests’ libraries in the Dutch Republic

By Jaap Geraerts and Sarah Büttner

The scholarly importance of “Priesterbibliotheken” (priests’ libraries) is well-known: they provide insight into what Catholic priests serving in the Holland Mission read or at least thought useful to own. Moreover, such libraries can tell us more about early modern Dutch Catholic spirituality, but also about the wider interest in books outside the remit of theology and pastoral care. Lastly, in particular libraries from the eighteenth century will also help to enhance our understanding of the schism which occurred in the Dutch Catholic Church. “Priesterbibliotheken (priests’ libraries) in the Dutch Republic” is a small pilot project which started at the IEG DH Lab in early 2021. The project aims to capture the bibliographical information contained in manuscript inventories of the libraries of Catholic priests serving in the Republic and making this available in digital form.
„Priests’ libraries in the Dutch Republic“ weiterlesen

Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode I: OCR with Latin prints

by Markus Müller with the collaboration of Melina Ramirez


Since the 1980s, our knowledge on 16th century censorship has been growing constantly thanks to coordinated research projects and new sources. In over ten years of research, for instance, José Maria Bujanda and his team edited all printed catalogues of forbidden books issued by Catholic authorities in the 16th century (eleven volumes until 1999). This made it very easy to check whether a certain author or book was banned or not. With the opening of the Archive of the Congregation of Faith (the former Roman Inquisition) in 1998 a vast number of manuscripts became available that provided an insight into the internals of the Roman Congregation of the Index (founded in 1572) and the decision making processes of the censors. These processes are particularly interesting for books that were not totally banned but expurged, meaning that the censors deleted or modified passages considered “heretical” and then reprinted the book. In many cases, the only way to find out what they actually changed is to compare the original with the expurged edition line by line and word by word. Because Rome was by far not the only Catholic authority that expurged books, the same book was sometimes also expurged by the Spanish Inquisition, the Sorbonne in Paris and other local inquisitors. They all had their own censoring procedures resulting in different expurgations. If we want to uncover the differences between these expurgations, we have to repeat the tedious manual comparison over and over again. These repetitive comparisons are exactly the kind of “boring stuff” that could be automated with Python. „Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode I: OCR with Latin prints“ weiterlesen

Games for the humanities / religious studies – scarce or simply hard to find?

by Monika Barget

Recently, I have more extensively explored serious games for teaching and research communication in the humanities. In a workshop aimed primarily at religious studies scholars, I intended to address analogue board games as well as hybrid and exclusively digital games. And apart from games I myself had used or contributed to, I hoped to present other examples in different languages. Especially in the field of hybrid and digital humanities games, however, my search retrieved few results. This post summarises the vivid discussion with participants that followed my invited talk “Seriously, games?” in the #digitalDonnerstag workshop series hosted by Arbeitskreis Mittelbau und Nachwuchs der Deutschen Vereinigung für Religionswissenschaft e.V. (AKMN). „Games for the humanities / religious studies – scarce or simply hard to find?“ weiterlesen

Differenzieren, Bündeln, Verstetigen – Weiterbildungskonzepte zum Forschungsdatenmanagement in der Geschichtswissenschaft

von Fabian Cremer, Michael Czolkoß-Hettwer und Thorsten Wübbena

Ein Workshop zum Forschungsdatenmanagement ist derzeit zwar keine exotische Weiterbildung mehr, aber als fachspezifisches Angebot in der Geschichtswissenschaft weder üblich noch obligatorisch. Die Landschaft der Angebote zeigt trotzdem eine Vielzahl an engagierten Akteur:innen mit ausgewisesener Expertise. In Rahmen eines Expert:innenworkshops haben einige dieser Personen in einem gemeinsamen Erfahrungsaustausch Ideen und Impulse hinsichtlich der Formate, Themen und Zielgruppen entwickelt, nachvollzogen wie das Konzept erfolgreicher Angebote gestaltet ist und wie deren Zusammenführung weiterentwickelt werden könnte. Diese Ideen werden in diesem Beitrag ausgearbeitet und dokumentiert. „Differenzieren, Bündeln, Verstetigen – Weiterbildungskonzepte zum Forschungsdatenmanagement in der Geschichtswissenschaft“ weiterlesen

Doing Digital History with Python IV: web automation

Before digital humanists can do things with data, they first need to collect them, and web automation (or more specific methods of web scraping) can be a quick way of gathering a large amount of data. While web automation denotes every remotely controlled action performed on the web, web scraping, web mining or web harvesting are focussed on reading and processing information (found on websites). This blog post presents useful Python packages for these tasks and explains the advantages of working with browser profiles. „Doing Digital History with Python IV: web automation“ weiterlesen

Dealing with uncertainty and capturing the underrepresented

by Jaap Geraerts

Since I started my project on the schism in the Catholic Church in the eighteenth-century Dutch Republic in the summer of 2019, I have been creating a dataset that comprises the information contained in lists of baptisms, burials, and marriages. This information enables me to trace the movement of Catholics to another, competing Catholic Church in the context of the schism. Consider, for example, Henricus Verbruggen and Maria Blomevelt. They baptised their first two children in a mission station that was part of the Church of Utrecht but had their third and last child baptised in the Roman Catholic Church (see Fig. 1). „Dealing with uncertainty and capturing the underrepresented“ weiterlesen

Exploring connections: Digital workshop on Network Analysis with Python

by Sarah Büttner

In times of covid-19, virtual workshops can be quite hard for organizers as well as for participants. On the other hand, they offer a unique opportunity to try unconventional methods to improve the situation for both sides. Dr. Demival Vasques Filho, in cooperation with Anna Aschauer, grasped such an opportunity at the DARIAH-DE-workshop Network Analysis with Python for Beginners, when he decided to simultaneously code and explain the basis on network analysis. Furthermore, he managed to address academics from different research areas with the help of some well-known fictional characters.
„Exploring connections: Digital workshop on Network Analysis with Python“ weiterlesen

60 Minutes of DH: eScriptorium for Handwritten Text Recognition in Humanities Research

by Sofie Sonnenstatter

In January, the DH Lab launched its series of (online) events “60 Minutes of DH” with a webinar on the automatic transcription tool eScriptorium.

The monthly events, planned as one-hour long afternoon sessions, are mainly intended for academic staff at the IEG and focus on joint discussions of tools, methods and literature from the field of Digital Humanities, as well as insights into the international project landscape. The goal is to encourage and support researchers when it comes to digital solutions supporting their history- and religion-related research. For this kick-off, however, the invitation was extended to a wider audience and was met with overwhelming interest by researchers from all over Europe.

„60 Minutes of DH: eScriptorium for Handwritten Text Recognition in Humanities Research“ weiterlesen

LinkedArt: exploring network analysis in art history

by Sophia Renz and Vanessa Tissen

The beginning

It all started with the seminar on network analysis in the summer semester of 2020. After learning about the basics of network theory and building networks in Python ourselves, the teachers Aline Deicke and Demival Vasques Filho asked us students to work in groups to develop a project combining our individual humanities backgrounds with network analysis. We are specialists in art history, which we wanted to include in the project. On top of that, the IEG DH Lab provided us with funds and support to further explore the application of network analysis in the field, e.g. whether art history datasets are available and to what extent they are usable or which art historical analyses or topics have already been done. The research project was kept relatively open, so we were able to look at the subject matter first. Tasks and questions developed during the following research. „LinkedArt: exploring network analysis in art history“ weiterlesen

„Hello, World!“: a Python course for beginners with the Codingschule Düsseldorf

By Alessandro Grazi

My adventure in the world of the Digital Humanities, which started about a year ago in Innsbruck, continued last October and November with a Python course for beginners offered by the Codingschule Düsseldorf.

I did not know what to expect that Autumn Wednesday evening, when at 6 pm I connected to the Zoom link of the Python course I was going to attend. „„Hello, World!“: a Python course for beginners with the Codingschule Düsseldorf“ weiterlesen

Text zu XML mit Python auf Basis des „Bomber’s Baedeker“

von Felix Bach und Cristian Secco

Die Transformation von digitalisierten Druckwerken von einer Bilddatei zur maschinenlesbaren XML-Datei ist für zahlreiche Methoden der Digital Humanities ein wichtiger Schritt in der Datenaufbereitung. In diesem Beitrag präsentieren wir einen Ansatz auf Basis eines Python-Skripts am Beispiel eines Werkes mit einer besonderen Binnenstruktur: Der Bomber’s Baedeker war ein „Reiseführer“, welcher von der Royal Air Force genutzt wurde, um während des 2. Weltkrieges deutsche Industriestandorte anzugreifen. „Text zu XML mit Python auf Basis des „Bomber’s Baedeker““ weiterlesen

Doing Digital History with Python III: topic modelling with Gensim, spaCy, NTLK and SciKit learn

by Monika Barget

In April 2020, we started a series of case studies to introduce researchers working with historical sources to data analysis and data visualisation with Python. Today’s blog post covers topic modelling with the Python packages Gensim, spaCy, NLTK and SciKit learn.

Topic modelling is one of the central methods of Natural Language Processing (NLP), the „automatic manipulation of natural language, like speech and text, by software.“ (Jason Brownlee: What Is Natural Language Processing?, in: Deep Learning for Natural Language Processing, 22nd September 2017) In its most basic form, a „topic“ modelled by software displays word co-occurrences in texts, assuming that the frequency of co-occurrences defines certain areas of meaning. „Doing Digital History with Python III: topic modelling with Gensim, spaCy, NTLK and SciKit learn“ weiterlesen

Geohumanities II: Gestaltung und Druck einfacher Karten in QGIS

by Monika Barget

Als Ergänzung zur Einführung in die Erstellung von GeoJSON-Dateien beschäftigt sich der heutige Blogbeitrag mit der Visualisierung dieser Geodaten im Open Source Geoinformationssystem QGIS. Das Tutorial führt Schritt-für-Schritt durch die Erstellung einer einfachen Karte und gibt Hinweise auf weiterführende Lernressourcen. „Geohumanities II: Gestaltung und Druck einfacher Karten in QGIS“ weiterlesen