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DEPCHA - Digital Edition Publishing Cooperative for Historical Accounts

Hosting organisations
Zentrum für Informationsmodellierung - Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities (ZIM-ACDH)
Responsible persons
Georg Vogeler and Christopher Pollin

Historical financial records provide rich and highly structured administrative sources, containing substantial amounts of individual information. This individual information is often not in the core of research interest. Instead, the records acquire their significance in aggregation of the single entries. Pure transcription does not cover the full range of dimensions of such a source: the linguistic/textual, the quantifiable and the semantic dimension. For research purpose, historical sources are subject to a transformation process towards (linked) information sources that can be used in various research scenarios.

According to that historical data must be prepared and structured based on a formal set of rules. The Bookkeeping-Ontology, a conceptual data model based on CIDOC-CRM, is developed in an ontology engineering process, involving historians, software developers and digital humanists. In a nutshell:

The ontology formalizes the interpretation of a transaction as a combination of transfers of economic goods and money from one accounting object to another. In this way, semantic structures, representing transaction, can be defined from different sources and source types. Thus, workflows can be set up to normalize these semantics.

The Project Digital Edition Publishing Cooperative for Historical Accounts, an Andrew W. Mellon funded cooperation of five US partners and the _Centre for Information Modellin_g at Graz University, aims to link the knowledge domain of economic activities to historical accounting records. For this purpose the so-called “Bookkeeping-Ontology” is developed. DEPCHA creates a publication hub for digital editions on the web, converting multiple formats into RDF and publishing these alongside the transcriptions and allows the usage of various retrieval and visualization functionalities, as well as interoperability and reuse of information in the sense of Linked Open Data.

An implementation of the preliminary work takes place in the course of the D_igital Publishing Cooperative: Infrastructure for the Creation, Publication, and Discovery of Digital Scholarly Editions and Projects_ together with the University of Virginia.

DEPCHA is realized in the GAMS infrastructure, an open source, FEDORA based digital repository for storing and publishing data in the humanities. Digital objects, containing multiple data streams and methods, allow disseminating data via HTML, as archival data in XML, and via various APIs. Furthermore, GAMS implements a disseminator for RDF data via the triplestore Blazegraph.