The ChartEx project is developing new ways of exploring the full text content of digital historical records. The ChartEx consortium is an innovative partnership between historians, archivists, and experts in computer science and artificial intelligence from Canada, the Netherlands, the UK and the US.
Charters record legal transactions of property of all kinds: houses, workshops, fields and meadows and describe the people who lived there. Long before records such as censuses or birth registers existed charters were and still are the major resource for researching people, for tracing changes in communities over time and for finding ancestors.
The ChartEx Project is funded by the Digging into Data Challenge.
The project will demonstrate its approach using medieval charters which survive in abundance from the 12th to the 16th centuries and are one of the richest sources for studying the lives of people in the past.
The new ChartEx tools will use a combination of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Data Mining to extract information about places, people and events in their lives from the charters automatically and find new relationships between these entities.
The project will then build an interactive "virtual workbench" that will allow historians, archivists and others interested in charters to explore the information extracted and add further information and comments.
This workbench will enable researchers to really dig into the content of the records, to recover their rich descriptions of places and people, and to go far beyond current digital catalogues which restrict searches to a few key facts about each document.
Information to follow shortly.
Dr Roger Evans
Dr Lynne Cahill
University of York
Columbia University in the City of New York
University of Washington
University of Toronto