OpenGazAm: Linked Open Data Gazetteers of the Americas

Digital historical gazetteers such as The American Gazetteer are indispensable in modern humanities research. The goal of the OpenGazAm-project is to create a Linked Open Data Gazetteer that will be interoperable with the World Historical Gazetteer and Pelagios.

Hoofdonderzoeker
  • Rombert Stapel
Disciplines
  • Geschiedenis
Resource types
  • Data
  • Tools
The American Gazetteer

In 1797, Boston-based geographer Jedidiah Morse published the first edition of his momentous ‘The American Gazetteer’. It includes around 7,000 unique place name descriptions in the newly founded United States and in the European colonies in both North and South America, and the Caribbean.

The American Gazetteer provides a unique contemporary view of the Early Modern American contents. Its entries range from just a couple of words to several pages and contain basic information on the geographic location and administrative hierarchies of the localities, as well as descriptive notes. Much emphasis is placed on distances, navigability of waterways, types of traded commodities, climates, facilities, and so forth – all relevant for merchants seeking new fortunes.

Page from The American Gazetteer (1797).
Page from The American Gazetteer (1797).

The goal of the OpenGazAm-project is to create a Linked Open Data Gazetteer that will be interoperable with the World Historical Gazetteer and Pelagios. Digital historical gazetteers such as The American Gazetteer are indispensable in modern humanities research. Existing non-historical digital gazetteers, such as GeoNames, have much difficulty in identifying and disambiguating historical toponyms. Spelling variations, changing place names, and discontinued localities, are omnipresent in historical sources and hamper quick and easy identification of places. In order to proceed from image to text and from text to structured data, the project uses the Handwritten Text Recognition toolkit Transkribus, further enhanced by applying TICCL, which has been specially tested and adapted for this project. Linked Data conversion tools developed in CLARIAH WP4 are used for converting our geodata into Linked Open Data.

Onderzoekers

Rombert Stapel
PI
Rombert Stapel

Postdoc onderzoeker, Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis