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Lecture | CMGI Brown Bag Seminar

Dear Digital Diary: an exploration of de Huydecoper Diaries (1648-1704) through Handwritten Text Recognition

  • Tessa de Boer, Ramona Negrón & Jessica den Oudsten
Tuesday 28 May 2024
CMGI Brown Bag Seminars 2023-2024
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Conference room (2.60)

In recent years, digital research methods have made it possible to study diaries, letters, and administration on a revolutionary scale. Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR), the ability of a computer to read and transcribe a handwritten document, is now widely used in the humanities to make large archives digitally searchable in full-text. These developments in the digital humanities encourage a critical look at (traditional) methods of archival research, as well as how these are taught in the current curriculum.

In this BBS, we will present our LUCDH Small Grant-funded project to develop a HTR-model to the expansive diaries of Joan Huydecoper (1625-1704), thirteen-times burgomaster of Amsterdam and director of the Dutch East India Company. His diaries contain a wealth of information about seventeenth-century life, and provide unique insight into the inner machinations of the Amsterdam elite, whose power stretched far in and beyond the rapidly globalizing city. We will discuss the trajectory of transforming a handwritten archival source into a full-text searchable digital  resource; how to involve and enthuse students in these processes; and reflect on the diversity of historiographical debates that this source – once fully accessible – can contribute to. On a more general level, we looking to exchange thoughts or gain feedback from colleagues on the intensified incorporation of digital humanities in research and education practices.  

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