The National Archives was recently successful in securing funding for two bids to the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Big Data fund. We are really excited that both projects were awarded grades for ‘an outstanding proposal that is world-leading in all of the following: scholarship; originality; quality; and significance’.
The projects are being financed through the £4.6m ‘Digital Transformations in the Arts and Humanities: Big Data Research’ initiative, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The projects are two of 21 around the country which aim to make ‘big data’ information more accessible and easier to interpret by the public.
Traces through time
Dr Sonia Ranade will lead collaboration with the Institute of Historical Research, Leiden University and Brighton University to develop a methodology to identify and trace individuals across large and diverse historical datasets. The approach will look particularly at ‘fuzzy’ data (such as aliases, incomplete data, spelling variations and errors) which are common features of historical data – and which currently present researchers with particular difficulties in confidently identifying the same individual across different historical sources, or even within a single source. Applying the methodology will expose the underlying links and patterns in the data, enabling the identification of events in the lives of real people. This work has the ability to radically transform search and discovery for researchers, and is a tremendously exciting piece of work.