Smells like team spirit – DH Lab retreat 2024

Over the years, the DH Lab has been working towards establishing a veritable tradition of going on a retreat every so often. Yet due to epidemics, conflicting agendas, or simply the lack of time, we haven’t been able to do so annually. Last year, for instance, we spent one day in Mainz to discuss our ongoing research projects (and had some lovely Federweißer afterwards), but that was it. This year, we ventured to Herborn to spend two days (divided over three) at its Schloss. Like in our 2022 retreat, everything took place in one venue: we stayed at the Schloss, had our meetings there, and were provided with (tasty!) meals at set times. As a result of not having to forage for food, we could devote our energy and attention to the meetings and activities that we had planned. „Smells like team spirit – DH Lab retreat 2024“ weiterlesen

4230 Zeilen unter dem Datenmeer: Nutzung von OpenRefine zur Datenbereinigung bei uneindeutigen Datensätzen in DigiKAR

von Meike Starke und Catharina Strokowsky

Die Arbeit mit uneindeutigen Daten lässt auch technische Lösungen irgendwann an ihre Grenzen stoßen. Diese Herausforderung stellte sich auch bei der Arbeit mit Daten zu den Lebenswegen von frühneuzeitlichen Professoren im Projekt „Digitale Kartenwerkstatt Altes Reich“ (DigiKAR). Eine manuelle Bereinigung war notwendig, um mehr als 750 Informationen zu Lebensereignissen zu prüfen und zu korrigieren. Als uns Hilfskräften diese Aufgabe übertragen wurde, hatten wir bisher keinerlei praktische Erfahrung mit der Arbeit an Datensätzen und haben unsere eigene Arbeitsweise anhand dieses Projekts entwickelt. In diesem Post schildern wir unsere ersten Erfahrungen, um Anfänger*innen Hilfestellungen zum Einstieg zu geben und Erfahrenen unsere Perspektive zu eröffnen. Auf zu unserem ersten Tauchgang ins Datenmeer! „4230 Zeilen unter dem Datenmeer: Nutzung von OpenRefine zur Datenbereinigung bei uneindeutigen Datensätzen in DigiKAR“ weiterlesen

Priests’ libraries – Part 2: making our data operable

by Jaap Geraerts and Teresa Wendel

In a previous blog post that appeared almost three years ago (tempus fugit!), I introduced a small (pilot) project on priests’ libraries from the early modern Dutch Republic. Since then, a lot has happened – in general, but also in relation to this project. Apart from the publication of a chapter in an edited volume on this topic, two research assistants, Sarah Büttner and Teresa Wendel, have patiently and conscientiously identified (most of) the books mentioned in the inventories that form the basis of this project and linked them, whenever possible, to records in online catalogues. Moreover, the latter has created a data model that we developed further in an iterative manner. Ultimately, this data model makes it possible to discern trends within individual libraries and across them, thus furthering our knowledge of the intellectual and pastoral formation of priests serving in the Holland Mission (the Catholic mission in the Dutch Republic), among other topics. This blog post will offer a glimpse of the process of developing a data model and making our data operable in a graph database.

„Priests’ libraries – Part 2: making our data operable“ weiterlesen

Competing demands: on combining different activities during my Postdoc

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.

„Competing demands: on combining different activities during my Postdoc“ weiterlesen

Die Kunst der Entscheidung: Erfahrungen aus einem Praxisprojekt

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

Imperial Commoners in Brazil and West Africa (1640–1822): A Global History from a Correspondence Network Perspective

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

Digital archives of the COVID-19 pandemic: research notes

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.

„Digital archives of the COVID-19 pandemic: research notes“ weiterlesen

Durch Partizipation zum Kontrakt. Gestaltungsprozesse einer praxisbezogenen Forschungsdatenleitlinie

von Fabian Cremer und Thorsten Wübbena

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

Integrating library data into an authority file: The challenges of MARC XML and inconsistent transcription practices

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.

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

Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode VI: Finding text re-use

by Markus Müller

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?

„Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode VI: Finding text re-use“ weiterlesen

Diving into Reddit: authority networks in history forums

by Daniela Linkevicius de Andrade and Demival Vasques Filho

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

Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode V: How did the censors actually change the text?

by Markus Müller

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 difflib.
„Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode V: How did the censors actually change the text?“ weiterlesen

Geohumanities III: analysing early modern mobility through birth and apprenticeship letters

By Monika Barget

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

Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode IV: Detecting OCR transcription errors

by Markus Müller

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!

„Uncovering censorship in the 16th century with Transkribus and Python. Episode IV: Detecting OCR transcription errors“ weiterlesen

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

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