Date(s) – 18-06-2021
15:00 – 16:15
Scholars in the ERC Consolidator project ‘Sharing Knowledge in Learned and Literary Networks – The Republic of Letters as a Pan-European Knowledge Society’ (SKILLNET) conduct research into the ideal of sharing knowledge within early modern scholarly networks in Europe. For this purpose, researchers need to interpret large quantities of printed letters from the period 1500-1800 which originate from diverse and “messy” sources. In this presentation, main researcher Dirk van Miert and data specialist Liliana Melgar share the challenges of working with thousands of records of historical letters and hundreds of pages from digitized books that most of the time are certainly not “ready” for analyses that answer the main research questions. After briefly introducing their work in cleaning the metadata of an aggregated letters catalog (Catalogus Epistolarum Neerlandicarum), they will demonstrate, with practical examples, how applying computer-assisted techniques (such as basic regular expressions or scripting) for working with textual sources has yielded positive results. They will also discuss the importance of considering data preparation as an essential part of any research project that involves the use of digital sources.