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
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
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
by Sophia Renz and Vanessa Tissen
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
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
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
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
The IEG is involved in RESILIENCE, a research infrastructure project for Religious Studies and related disciplines, involving twelve partner institutions from ten European countries.
The acronym stands for “REligious Studies Infrastructure: tooLs, Experts, conNections and CEnters in Europe” and the goal is a pan-European research infrastructure (RI) which provides access to sources, research results, expertise and tools for researchers and individuals interested in religion-related topics.
Digital Humanities have been transforming research in Europe and RESILIENCE aims for driving forward the digital turn in Religious Studies by stimulating the applicating of innovative methodological approaches in this field. Digital data and services designed for the needs of transdisciplinary research related to religions will be made available within a single ecosystem accessible for researchers as well as non-academics worldwide. „RESILIENCE – A Research Infrastructure for Religious Studies“ weiterlesen