Artist migration through the biographer’s lens
A case study based on biographical data retrieved from the Austrian Biographical Dictionary
Keywords:digital humanities, prosopography, biographical dictionary, social history of art, historical migration analyses
A lexicon like the Österreichisches Biographisches Lexikon 1815–1950 (Austrian Biographical Dictionary) seems to be as all in one cast because it is built on a set of formal rules for writing articles and some strict but basic criteria for the incorporation of new entries. The human reader can find information within that resource to a wide range of topics as well as detailed information about the life and career paths of historical individuals. An attempt to systematically analyze this information in a larger scale, however, must be condemned to fail without the help of computational methods. In a first stage it is therefore necessary to structure the biographical text for the machine. Pieces of information, the so called biographical building blocks, can be identified in two ways: through natural language processing methods and by manually annotation. Both processes which are intertwined and done in a custom-built virtual research environment provide the existing biographical data at hand for the analyses following in later stages. This paper aims at describing the data collection process on the example of place names which can be found in artist biographies and demonstrate possible use cases for historical network research. In this context it is also outlined how this field of research can benefit particularly from biographical data.
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