Link-Lives – Building historical big data from archival records for use by researchers and the Danish public – by Barbara Revuelta-Eugercios

Barbara Revuelta-Eugercios.

The third presentation on September 3rd at the workshop in Alicante was held by Barbara Reuvelta-Eugercios. She is associate research professor with special responsibilities at the National Archives of Denmark and associate research professor at the SAXO Institute, University of Copenhagen. Her focus is on historical demography, mortality inequality and digital methods in history. After her doctoral studies in Spain, she has worked in research institutions in Sweden, France and Denmark in the fields of economic history, demography and history. She co-directs the Link-Lives project since 2019.

Abstract. The Link-Lives project is a cross-disciplinary research project. The aim is to take the difficult and time-consuming task of combining information from diverse archival sources relating to any given person, to build life-courses and family relations. The timespan for the project is from 1787 to the present. The results will be freely and easily available to everybody. The project will expand the scope of registry-based research from decades to centuries and open new avenues for intergenerational research in the health and social sciences. It will also ease the access to some of Denmark’s digital treasures to the average citizen. Link-Lives is a collaboration between the Danish National Archives, the Copenhagen City Archives and the University of Copenhagen. It is funded through two grants by the Innovation Fund Denmark, the Carlsberg Foundation and two small grants from the Ministry of Culture.

You can watch the whole session on YouTube here & read the manuscript paper here!

Written by Barbara Revuelta-Eugercios & the European Digital Treasures Team.

Automated Processing and Exploitation of Heraldic Data from European Archives. – by Torsten Hiltmann and Philipp Schneider

The European Digital Treasures team continues with the presentations of the experts who participated in the workshop “New Digital Exponential Technologies Towards The Generation Of Business Models” on 2nd and 3rd of September, 2021 at the Provincial Historical Archive of Alicante (Spain). 

The second speech on September 3rd was held by Torsten Hiltmann and Philipp Schneider. Torsten Hiltmann is a professor for Digital History at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin since 2020. His research focuses on the integration of Machine Learning and Semantic Web Technologies into historical studies and on the epistemological change of historical research through the application of digital methods.

Philipp Schneider is a research assistant at the chair of Digital History at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin since 2020. He works in a project called “Coats of Arms in practice”, where he is responsible for modeling and contextualizing heraldry as a historical source with the help of Semantic Web Technologies.

Abstract. The paper addresses the issue of reusing data from historical archives (and GLAM institutions in general) in data-driven research projects by presenting a catalogue of supporting factors. These factors center around the FAIR principles and how archives and other GLAM institutions can support research by implementing them in their data services. Mainly, historical data should be made accessible through APIs, be describable through its historical context, and to be as interoperable and reusable as possible. These preconditions for using archival data in data-driven historical research are presented by using the example of the research project “Coats of arms in practice”. It aims to study the development and usage of heraldry as a tool of visual communication in the Middle Ages and the Early Modern Period. It employs a data-first approach by integrating data of coats of arms as well as the historical contexts of sources in which they were used into a single Knowledge Graph, built with Semantic Web Technologies. The coats of arms themselves will be described with the help of a specific ontology. Image detection methods based on Machine Learning are used to detect (and describe) coats of arms in image data of historical sources that have not yet been described. This paper focuses on the reuse of archival data from a research perspective. We would like to address the preconditions archival data and GLAM data in general has to meet from the point of view of data-driven research – especially when such research draws on data from multiple institutions. 

You can watch the whole session on YouTube here and read the manuscript paper here!

Written by Torsten Hiltmann, Philipp Schneider & the European Digital Treasures Team.

‘Hydro Andric machine or garment to cover a man inside water’

Underwater garment – 1720 in Spain.

Máquina Hydroándrica o vestidura para cubrirse un hombre dentro del agua’, a ‘Hydro Andric machine or garment to cover a man inside water’ is one of the Spanish contributions to the third transmedia exhibition of the Project European Digital Treasures, “From the New World to New Technologies”, held by the General Archive of the Indies (Seville, Spain) from April 29th 2022 to July 29th 2022.

Underwater exploration has a very long history. Freediving took place since early antiquity in the Mediterranean Sea and in many other regions and seas around the world. Pearl fishing was an economic activity developed by the Spaniards in America since the 16th century and an important source of income for the Royal Treasury. It was done by indigenous divers, and later by Africans. 

The idea of using a contraption such as a diving bell to allow someone to remain underwater for extended periods has been with us for a long time. The limitations of these devices were well known: the methods used to provide air to the diver were very primitive and frequently led to fatalities. 

In the 18th century, different models of diving suits with breathing systems were developed to achieve a greater permanence of the diver under water. One of those is shown here: a project for an underwater garment that was presented in 1720 in Spain. Actually, as the document explains, only the external layer is presented here, to be used over the whole body armour, with hood and iron breeches. Concept and fabrication are attributed to Alexander Durand.

This interesting document has inspired the Spanish designer Ángel Merlo to create an inventive merchandising product: a personalized waterproof cover for backpacks.

EDT designer creation.

You can find more info about the record and the designer here:
Máquina Hydroándrica o vestidura para cubrirse un hombre dentro del agua’ (ES.41091.AGI//MP-INGENIOS,248) on PARES or Archives Portal Europe

Written by Spanish State Archives.

Browsing through sealed historical documents: noninvasive imaging methods for document digitization – by Daniel Stromer

 

The European Digital Treasures team wants to disclose the various presentations held within the workshop “New digital exponential technologies towards the generation of business models” on 2nd and 3rd of September, 2021 at the Provincial Historical Archive of Alicante (Spain). For this reason, we are posting about each of the presentations.

Daniel Stromer.

One of the speakers was Daniel Stromer, who started to study medical engineering at Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) in 2010. In 2019, he finished his PhD (Dr.-Ing.) in Computer Science with the title “Non-invasive imaging for Digital Humanities, Medicine, and Quality Assessment“. Daniel is now heading the Learning Approaches for Medical Big Data (LAMBDA) group of the Pattern Recognition Lab (PRL) at FAU. In parallel, he joined Siemens Healthineers as collaboration manager for Digital Health. He is currently project lead of a multimodal document digitization project as well as interested in research where pure image data is being enriched and correlated with new data sources.

Abstract. Historical documents are witnesses of history that provide us with valuable information about former times. Many of these relics are too fragile to open them, such that innovative non-invasive imaging techniques can help to reveal hidden contents. In this work, we present our research on Computed Tomography, Phase-contrast and Terahertz imaging. We use image processing methods to visualize the digital data for the naked eye. Our use cases are mainly books, but also Asian bamboo scroll data is shown. As an outlook, our future research will focus on hybrid imaging approaches combined with intelligent image processing. Our research aim is to gain insights, and based on them, provide guidelines for specific documents. Therefore, the space of documents and modalities is presented. We try to utilize advantages and counter disadvantages of certain modalities. Finally, the future of this highly translational research is discussed and possible considerations for potential commercialization are presented.

You can watch the whole session on YouTube here & read the manuscript paper here!

Written by Daniel Stromer & the European Digital Treasures Team.

Handwritten Text Recognition for the European Digital Treasures Collections.  Hands On workshop by Joan Andreu Sánchez and Enrique Vidal

The first day of  the workshop “New Digital Exponential Technologies Towards The Generation Of Business Models” was concluded by a hands on session led by Joan Andreu Sánchez and Enrique Vidal.

Joan Andreu Sánchez.

Joan Andreu Sánchez is assistant professor at Universitat Politècnica de València and the Director of the Pattern Recognition and Human Language Technologies (PRHLT) Research Center in this university. His main area of research is machine learning and formal languages applied to text recognition and math recognition.

Enrique Vidal is emeritus professor at the same university and former co-leader of PRHLT research center. For many years Dr. Vidal has focussed his research on handwritten document analysis and recognition leading the development of the probabilistic indexing technology.  Joan Andreu and Enrique are founders of tranSkriptorium, an AI spin-off company.

Enrique Vidal.

The contents of a massive volume of digitised handwritten records in archives and libraries all over the world are practically inaccessible, buried beneath thousands of terabytes of high-resolution images. The image textual content could be straightforwardly indexed for plain-text textual access using conventional information retrieval systems if perfect or sufficiently accurate text image transcripts were available.

However, fully automatic transcription results generally lack the level of accuracy that is required for reliable text indexing and search purposes. On the other hand, the massive volume of image collections typically considered for indexing render manual or even computer-assisted transcription as entirely prohibitive. Dr. Sanchez and Dr. Vidal explain how very accurate indexing and search can be directly implemented on the images themselves, without explicitly resorting to image transcripts; they present the results obtained using the proposed techniques on several relevant historical data sets. The results have led to a high interest in these technologies.

You can watch the session on YouTube here and the paper presented at the workshop here: Part I & Part II.

Written by Leonard Callus and the European Digital Treasures Team.

ICARUS Convention #28 in Paris with European Digital Treasures workshop

SAVE THE DATE

After two years of online conventions and zoom conferences, we are happy to announce that the upcoming ICARUS Convention #28 will be held in person in Paris from 23rd to 25th of May, 2022 as a hybrid event!

The conference will take place in the conference center of Campus Condorcet in Paris-Aubervilliers and is organised by the Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes (CNRS) with the support of the French Ministry of Culture and the National Archives (Archives nationales).

Within the programme of the convention, the European Digital Treasures project will hold their workshop “New Business & Conceptual models” led by Yvan Corbat!

One of the key objectives of the Digital Treasures project is to generate a greater added value, profitability, visibility and economic return of European archives, through the identification and implementation of new business models and activities.

The workshop will include practical examples of new activities being implemented by some partners of this project:

The programme of the convention will be finalized within the next days and weeks.
First prospect, further information, details and registration: https://icarus-28.sciencesconf.org/resource/page/id/2

Any questions? Please contact: info@icar-us.eu

More information to come soon – stay tuned!

We are looking forward to seeing you in Paris!

Written by ICARUS & the Digital Treasures team.

Exhibition Opening at the Várkert Bazár in Budapest: European Discoveries

Exhibition: European Discoveries © Photo credit: Zsuzsanna Lantos, National Archives of Hungary

Following the example of its Spanish, Portuguese and Norwegian partners, the National Archives of Hungary opened its first transmedia exhibition at the Várkert Bazár in Budapest. The first of the three exhibitions planned as part of the European Digital Treasures international project, European Discoveries: from the New World to New Technologies, opened in the Hungarian capital. Following a special private opening on 21st of January 2022, the exhibition was opened to the public the following day, 22nd of January 2022.

This day has a special significance in the cultural life of Hungary, as it is the day when Hungarians celebrate the Day of Hungarian Culture, in memory of the day Ferenc Kölcsey revised his manuscript of the Hungarian National Anthem in 1823. However, on this day of remembrance, the National Archives of Hungary wanted to commemorate not only Hungarian cultural values, but also the common European values, historical and ideological experiences that link Hungary with other European countries.

European Discoveries: from the New World to New Technologies is a digital exhibition dedicated to the latter, which presents European discoveries in three pillars, covering medical science, industrial achievements and transport and traffic, preserved in the archives of Malta, Montenegro, Norway, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Serbia and Hungary, through documents of historical value.

In addition to the printed panels, the 43 manuscripts and records presented in the exhibition can also be seen in a digital catalogue, according to the unified project concept. The National Archives of Hungary presents some original archival material on the exhibition site as well. Visitors of the exhibition space can also see some designer products inspired by the documents – with a separate description of the source of inspiration – and play an RPG game and quiz based on the documents presented in the project, in the dedicated game space.

The European Discoveries exhibition at the Castle Garden is attracting a lot of interest. In addition to the digital descriptions, visitors can browse through the exhibition with a handy English and Hungarian catalogue to learn more about the documents on display.

The multilingual nature of the exhibition helps our visitors from abroad to learn more about the European archival material.  Our exhibition venue is one of the best exhibition spaces of the Castle Garden. The highly equipped hall and its digital facilities provide a suitable place for all visitors to access and explore digital content.

The first exhibitions actuality – European Discoveries – is attracting many group visits;  we are getting high engagement in the requests from schools, universities and other institutions. 

Our professional Public Education team offers guided tours at the exhibition site as well, for registration please contact: kozmuvelodes@mnl.gov.hu

The exhibition is open until the end of April 2022, at the beautiful site at the foot of Buda Castle.

Guided tour with Zoltán Szatucsek © Zsuzsanna Lantos.


Written by Szabó Dorottya, Archivist, National Archives of Hungary and
Palcsó Anna, Public Education Officer, National Archives of Hungary

Love songs by King D. Dinis (fragments)

On Valentine’s day we retrieve a document with medieval love songs written by D. Dinis, King of Portugal (1261-1325), included in the Exhibition  “The Construction of Europe”.

Love songs by King D. Dinis (fragments). Torre do Tombo Archive.

The document, also known as “The Sharrer Parchment”, discovered in 1990 at the Torre do Tombo Archive, includes musical notation, found for the first time in love songs, and is the oldest known register of Portuguese secular music.

The love songs take us back to a cultural tradition of the European medieval courts, where courtly love was favored, that is an amorous compliment aside from patrimonial, family, and political pressures that were inevitably present in marriage alliances.

King D. Dinis was a prolific and well-known author of troubadouresque poetry of Iberian tradition: 137 poems were identified, 75 love songs, 11 satirical songs and 51 amigo songs. This king developed his musical and poetic genius in the context of the confluence of European cultivated courts to which he was linked by family and cultural bonds: his father, King Afonso III, spent his youth in the court of the king of France (Louis VIII), and married the Countess Mathilde de Boulogne, knowing the cultural atmosphere of the French court.

One of the educators he chose for his son Dinis was Americ d’Ébrard, of Aquitaine, who introduced him to the culture from beyond the Pyrenees and to the troubadouresque schools. On his mother’s side, he was the grandson of Alfonso X, the Wise, King of Castilla and Leon, the author of a vast poetic work, including the well-known “Cantigas de Santa Maria”. Later, D. Dinis married Isabel of Aragon, from a court that cultivated poetry. There was great proximity between Aragon and the South of France and their troubadouresque courts.

The troubadour poetry of courtly love emerged in the Iberian Peninsula, influenced also by the pilgrimage routes of the Way of St. James, under a strong Provencal influence, considering minstrels and troubadours constituted an international and migratory brotherhood, traveling from one court to another in the Peninsula.

If the amigo songs, where the troubadour embodies a female voice, are part of an Iberian tradition of popular origin, the love and satirical songs belong to a troubadouresque tradition of European courts and feudal lords, of Provencal origin, between the 12th and 14th centuries.

In love songs, the troubadour, a noble man and author of the melody and the lyrics, expresses his passion for “his lady”, a woman of unique beauty and virtue that, according to the canons of this ritualized love, isn’t identified. Only the submission of the troubadour is exposed, who expects a reward, that could be a present, a look or something significantly more physical, being the service and the suffering of the lover the biggest proof of his love.
This “service” of loyalty and love for the lady mirrors, in the romantic relationship, the dependence relations that united vassal and lord in the feudal system.

What is the human reality hidden behind these rituals and conventions? What is the point of all these secrets and precautions? In most love songs the “servant” expects to receive a favor of the lady, but keeps the favor a secret.
For the Portuguese Culture historian António José Saraiva, we have to consider that these protagonists are frequently feudal lords, kings and sons of kings, the songs’ theme is clandestine love, outside of marriage, so the secrecy is a precaution, not literary fiction.
Clandestine love and adultery are a recurrent theme of medieval love literature and of the great romantic couples that the Middle Ages have left us: Tristan and Isolde, Lancelot and Guinevere, …

Click here to listen to one of the 7 love songs: A tal estado me adusse, senhor.
In this song, the troubadour tells his lady about the state her beauty and qualities have left him in: nothing gives or will give him pleasure, until he sees her again.

Written by Maria Trindade Serralheiro (text) and Ana Isabel Fernandes (trad.)
Senior Technicians, General Directorate of Books, Archives and Libraries, Portugal.

Automatic topic detection and collaborative topic tagging in Archives Portal Europe’s multilingual environment – by Kerstin Arnold

The European Digital Treasures team wants to present the various presentations held within the workshop “New Digital Exponential Technologies Towards The Generation Of Business Models” on 2nd and 3rd of September, 2021 at the Provincial Historical Archive of Alicante (Spain). For this reason, we will post about each of the presentations within the upcoming weeks – stay tuned!

Kerstin Arnold.

The first speech was held by Kerstin Arnold who has been working in the archives domain for more than 15 years! Having  been part of various projects creating and establishing Archives Portal Europe, Kerstin is now the initiative’s acting COO in the role of the APEF Manager. She holds a Master degree each in Communication Science and in Library and Information Management and also is a member of the  Technical Subcommittee on Encoded Archival Standards (TS-EAS) at the Society of American Archivists.

Abstract. Archives Portal Europe is a comprehensive and open resource on archives from and about Europe, that currently holds archival descriptions from more than 30 countries and in more than 20 languages. Following traditional approaches of archival description, the portal allows users to access the documents via the contextual entities of the records creators and the holding repositories, next to a general keyword search. To evaluate options for subject- or topic-based access points, Archives Portal Europe is working on an automated cross-lingual topic detection tool that aims at enabling users to identify relevant documents related to a topic well beyond the narrowness of direct keyword matching. Synergising different approaches for concept-based and entity-based topics, the tool then also is meant to allow for active topic tagging in order to improve coverage of topic-based relations between the heterogeneous and multilingual documents present in Archives Portal Europe. Building on the current status quo in the portal, this paper presents the tool’s set-up, initial results from the proof-of-concept phase, and next steps envisaged during alpha and beta development of the tool, which will be made available as Open Source to also be of benefit for other, similar initiatives in the cultural heritage sector.

You can watch the whole session on YouTube here and read the manuscript paper here!

Written by Kerstin Arnold & the European Digital Treasures Team.