A small project called Europäische Friedensverträge der Vormoderne in Daten (FriVer+) ran at the DH Lab in 2023. The main aim of this project was to transform the data that had been gathered during an earlier project, Europäische Friedensverträge der Vormoderne online, and that was stored in an SQL-database, into XML and make it publicly available. All of this was done in accordance with the FAIR principles. The various activities this project comprised are already explained in another blog on the Text+-blog as well as in the project documentation. Hence I won’t reiterate all this information here. Instead, I would like to offer a short reflection on the advantages and challenges of combining a project like FriVer+ with my role as Postdoc at IEG Mainz.
Von Teresa Wendel
Jede und jeder von uns trifft sie mehrfach am Tag — eine Entscheidung. Unabhängig davon, ob es sich um alltägliche oder lebensverändernde Fragen handelt, jede Entscheidung erfordert sorgfältige Überlegungen. Bei der Planung eines bevorstehenden Projekts treten ähnliche Herausforderungen auf: Aufkommende Fragen gilt es, gut abzuwägen und sorgfältig zu überdenken, um die richtige Entscheidung für das eigene Projekt zu treffen. Denn: Eine falschen Entscheidung führt zwar nicht zwangsläufig zum Misserfolg des gesamten Projekts, bring jedoch sicherlich Probleme in Hinblick auf das Zeit- und Personalmanagement mit sich.
Genau mit dem Punkt der Entscheidungsfindung habe ich mich während meines Praxisprojekts beschäftigt, das ich von Oktober 2022 bis Januar 2023 am DH Lab des IEG zum Projekt „Forgeries x Networks“ absolviert habe. Während der vier Monate habe ich mich mit Themen rund um Datenextraktion und -modellierung, graphbasierten und relationalen Datenbanken sowie Datenqualität und -anreicherung beschäftigt und mich stets gefragt: „Was spricht dafür, was dagegen?“. „Die Kunst der Entscheidung: Erfahrungen aus einem Praxisprojekt“ weiterlesen
By Agata Bloch and Demival Vasques Filho
After a couple of attempts, we have finally received the exciting news that our project has been recommended for funding by the Polish National Science Center! Over the next four years, we will study the communication patterns of imperial commoners (non-elite actors) who developed similar characteristics, narratives, and thought strategies in different areas of the vast Atlantic Portuguese Empire. We are interested not only in how these commoners generally behaved and displayed attitudes that transcended class and gender, but also in how imperial authorities responded to them. „Imperial Commoners in Brazil and West Africa (1640–1822): A Global History from a Correspondence Network Perspective“ weiterlesen
By Ian Marino
How will historians tell the history of the COVID-19 pandemic? At first, they will do so based on historical sources, as always. But how is the vast number of vestiges of such a global and traumatic event being archived? I am starting a fellowship at the IEG DH Lab to help answer questions like that as part of my PhD research, The pandemic and the digital: digital archives and memory of COVID-19 in a global perspective, conducted at the University of Campinas, Brazil. This short report will present the main topics and questions surrounding the project.
Bis zum Jahr 2022 hatte das Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte (IEG) keine Leitlinie zum Umgang mit Forschungsdaten am Institut. Eine solche Leitlinie bildet einen zentralen Baustein für die strategische und operative Entwicklung von Maßnahmen im Forschungsdatenmanagement. Dieser Erfahrungsbericht aus dem IEG zeigt, es kommt weniger auf den Zeitpunkt der Verabschiedung, sondern auf den Entstehungsprozess einer Leitlinie an, damit sie maßgebliche Relevanz und Einsatzfähigkeit für den Forschungsalltag entfalten kann. „Durch Partizipation zum Kontrakt. Gestaltungsprozesse einer praxisbezogenen Forschungsdatenleitlinie“ weiterlesen
a guest post by Till Grallert
A recent Twitter post from my former colleague Anne Klammt made me aware of a recent relaunch of “Zeitschriftendatenbank” (ZDB), the portal for periodical holdings in German (and Austrian) libraries.
— Dr. Anne Klammt (@archaeoklammt) November 30, 2021
Part of the German National Library (Deutsche Nationalbibliothek, DNB), the website looks great and provides a lot of data-driven functionality, such as maps and timelines of holdings. The display language of the website itself, though not the bibliographic data, can be toggled between German and English. This is a welcome nod to international users and will certainly increase the visibility of this important portal. However, it must be noted that unfortunately the dataset of bibliographic data is not as accessible as the interface. Languages written in scripts other than Latin are provided in a variety of inconsistent transcriptions into Latin script for mostly historical technical reasons. This is not the fault of ZDB per se but it will prevent communities from the Global South from finding and accessing their own cultural heritage, which for various reasons are held by institutions in the Global North. This is especially relevant for Arabic material, as I will elaborate in the section on transliterations below.
„Integrating library data into an authority file: The challenges of MARC XML and inconsistent transcription practices“ weiterlesen
In 1550, the Catholic cathedral preacher Johann Wild (Ioannes Ferus, 1495–1554) admitted in the preface to his commentary on the Gospel of John that he reused texts of Protestant authors such as Johannes Brenz (1499–1570) and Johannes Oekolampad (1482–1531) in his book, but that he only borrowed thoughts that were compatible with Catholic teaching.1 Unfortunately, in his text, there are no footnotes or other references in his text to the authors he presumably cited. Since 1950, however, various historians have found verbatim parallels or at least significant similarities between Wild’s commentaries and Protestant authors.2 But these findings were more or less accidental. It is still unclear to what extend Wild actually quoted Protestant authors, which authors he used in particular, and so on. The main reason for that is that a manual search for verbatim parallels is very time-consuming, even more time-consuming than searching for censorship. So, is there a way to hack the search for literal quotes in 16th century books?
Writing history in the 21st century means considering the digital space as a significant space for the production of historical knowledge, especially since dichotomies such as “offline” and “online” fail to do justice to how “real” and “digital” intertwine. These elements, currently approached as complementary, imply that one of the challenges that historians now face is understanding how the digital is constituted as part of our experience, playing a great influence in the way we interpret and perceive the world. If the digital modify every aspect of our lives, it is plausible to ask what this would mean for the historical field, especially regarding standards of authority, which are the pillars of the discipline. For this purpose, our objective in this project is to identify and analyze what types of authority networks we can find in Reddit history forums. „Diving into Reddit: authority networks in history forums“ weiterlesen
We have come a long way since episode I of this miniseries: After digitizing the texts, normalizing the orthographic variants, and resolving the abbreviations, we used an interactive web app to find and correct remaining transcription errors. Now that the texts are free of mistakes we can finally use them for comparisons. In this episode, we will compare an original text with an expurged reprint to find censorship. Since the censors sometimes manipulated only one or two characters in a word, thereby changing the meaning of the whole sentence, we will compare the texts word by word using the Python module
„Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode V: How did the censors actually change the text?“ weiterlesen
In the winter term 2020/2021, Jaap Geraerts and I worked with students in the Mainz MA programme “Digitale Methoden in den Geistes- und Kulturwissenschaften” (“Digital Methods in the Humanities and Cultural Studies”) to create a digital edition of early modern birth and apprenticeship letters. The edition includes records in French and Latin as well as German and highlights people’s cross-border mobility in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. „Geohumanities III: analysing early modern mobility through birth and apprenticeship letters“ weiterlesen
In the last episode, we built a pipeline to convert a diplomatic transcription into normalized Latin text. The code works fine as long as the diplomatic transcription is correct. But what happens if the transcription contains errors or, even worse, if the printer in the 16th century misspelled a word? – Right now, nothing would happen at the moment because our pipeline cannot detect these errors. This is a problem because as soon as we start comparing two editions of the same text to check for censorship (and that’s where we are going!), the slightest difference between the two texts may be interpreted as censorship. Can we solve this problem? – Yes, we can!
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 de⁹ 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.
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.)
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
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