Since February 2014, we’ve been investigating methods for linking people who appear in our records, to start revealing the connections that tell the real stories of people’s lives.
Two years later this project, Traces through Time, is at the point where users of our catalogue, Discovery, can benefit from our efforts.
If, in the last few days, you’ve been researching a person who served in the First World War there’s a chance you’ve noticed our new feature: a section reading ‘other possible matches’. This feature went live just a few days ago at the end of March. If you have already come across it, we hope you liked it.
If you haven’t seen it, take a look at the description of Alfred Minall’s naval service record in series ADM 337. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for links to the same Alfred Minall in other records.
We’ve all made links like this on Discovery while researching our family history. It’s relatively easy for a person to decide whether two records relate to the same individual. We can make a judgement based on the information presented to us: maybe the date of birth is very close, or maybe an unusual middle name is the clincher.
But how can we ‘teach’ a computer to make these very human judgments?
Well, that’s exactly what our data scientists and statistical experts here at The National Archives have been working on. We have identified ways of linking names across records, with the added value of a confidence rating. Continue reading »