Project opens up access to historical records

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Millions of historical records have become more accessible to the public through a JISC-funded project at the universities of Hertfordshire, London and Sheffield, UK.

Connected Histories provides a single point of access to a wide range of distributed digital resources relating to early modern and nineteenth-century British history. It provides integrated access to several key resources, moving beyond simple keyword searching to allow structured searching of millions of pages of text by names, places, and dates.

The project used natural language processing to identify names, places and dates in unstructured texts, and combined these with structured databases to create a single resource searchable by names, places and dates, as well as by keywords and phrases. Users can save results in their own workspace and document connections between sources.

Alastair Dunning, JISC programme manager, said: 'Connected Histories provides a new type of tool for scholars, not just allowing them to find people, names and places from disparate digital resources, but create intelligent links between them. For JISC such projects are vital, permitting users to make sense of the rich and copious troves of primary sources available on the web.'