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

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

Introduction

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

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.

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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

Initial familiarity with Transkribus: The User Conference 2020

By Alessandro Grazi

It was a cold, sunny, winter morning, and just like every other morning I was standing on a platform of Giessen’s train station. But this time I wasn’t headed to the IEG in Mainz, where I work, but to Innsbruck, Austria. No, the anticipation I felt wasn’t for an exciting skiing weekend on the Austrian Alps (I can’t ski, anyway!), but for the Transkribus User Conference 2020. How can one be excited for a conference on a Handwriting Text Recognition Software, you ask? Well, as a cultural historian, a humanist, I find it always intriguing when I get to deal with something “technical”, something “scientific”. Perhaps, that is one of the reasons why I took on a research project in Jewish Studies, my original field, which uses digital methods.

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