Analyzing Biography Collections Historiographically as Linked Data: Case National Biography of Finland

Tracking #: 2887-4101

Minna Tamper
Petri Leskinen
Eero Hyvonen
Risto Valjus
Kirsi Keravuori

Responsible editor: 
Christoph Schlieder

Submission type: 
Full Paper
Biographical collections are available on the Web for close reading. However, the underlying texts can also be used for data analysis and distant reading, if the documents are available as data. Such data is usable for creating intelligent user interfaces to biographical data, including Digital Humanities tooling for visualizations, data analysis, and knowledge discovery in biographical and prosopographical research. In this paper, we re-use biographical collection data from a historiographical perspective for analyzing the underlying collection. For example: What kind of people have been included in the collection? Does the language used for describing female biographees differ from that for men? As a case study, the Finnish National Biography, available as part of the Linked Open Data service and semantic portal BiographySampo - Finnish Biographies on the Semantic Web is used. The analyses show interesting results related to, e.g., how specific prosopographical groups, such as women or professional groups are represented and portrayed. Various novel statistics and network analyses of the biographees are presented. Our analyses give new insights to the editors of the National Biography as well as to researchers in biography, prosopography, and historiography. The presented approach can be applied also to similar biography collections in other countries.
Full PDF Version: 


Solicited Reviews:
Click to Expand/Collapse
Review #1
By Werner Scheltjens submitted on 23/Dec/2021
Review Comment:

The authors have made a great effort to address the questions and remarks that were raised in the review. The additions to the text and figures are all clear. In my view, the paper is ready to be accepted.

Review #2
Anonymous submitted on 04/Jan/2022
Review Comment:

As I stated in my comment to an earlier version of this paper, this is an excellent contribution that presents the process of semantification and datafication of the information contained in texts (here historical biographies), making it available to the public and researchers on a web platform that allows the data to be queried and analyzed.
I had added to my commentary a few suggestions and hints to reinforce, in the eyes of an audience of digital historians, the theses of the article. The authors have clarified and completed the passages concerned and future studies will certainly allow for further exploration of the one or the other of these avenues.
This excellent article deserves publication and all the interest of the digital humanities community.