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DH 2013, Lincoln, Nebraska
Encoding historical dates correctly:
Is it practical, and is it worth
it?
Janelle Jenstad, Mart...
The Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution
The Glorious Revolution
A Journey through Italy and
France (R.A. Poole)
A Journey through Italy and
France (R.A. Poole)
A Journey through Italy and
France (R.A. Poole)
A Journey through Italy and
France (R.A. Poole)
A Journey through Italy and
France (R.A. Poole)
Calendrical chaos between countries
1. Julian versus Gregorian calendar
● 1582: Pope Gregory's new calendar
● 1752: Englis...
Problem? What problem?
We asked a number of colleagues on cognate
projects for advice:
● It's only a few days. How importa...
This problem: Interoperability
● You: a historian of 17thc Holland.
● Me: a researcher on 17thc English literary
texts.
● ...
Our project
The Map of Early Modern London
(mapoflondon.uvic.ca)
● Covers 1550-1650
● 4105 dates or date ranges encoded so...
Our goals in encoding dates
1. We want to know WHEN an event occurred
relative to other events (astronomical years).
2. We...
Solutions?
Fact: TEI uses ISO and W3C standards,
which presuppose Gregorian dates.
A solution: convert all dates to Gregor...
Problems with that solution
Produces historical disorientation,
because we "know" that Queen Elizabeth
died on March 24, 1...
Our solution
● Use full capability of TEI
● Class of attributes: att.datable.custom
● "provides attributes for normalizati...
Attributes we need
1.@when-custom fixed date→
• @notBefore-custom
• @notAfter-custom ...
2.@datingMethod indicates the cal...
Various reckoning systems
Primary texts reckon time by:
regnal years ("the third of King John")
papal years
mayoral years
...
What the encoder sees
What the site will give you
What the reader sees
So ...
… is it practical, and worthwhile to encode
historical dates correctly?
YES!
It is practical,
and it is worth it!
Credits and thanks
Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council
Humanities Computing and Media Centre, UVic
MoEML Team,...
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Encoding Historical Dates Correctly: Is it Practical, and is it Worth it?

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Holmes, Martin, Janelle Jenstad, Nathan Phillips, Sarah Milligan, and Cameron Butt. “Encoding Historical Dates Correctly: Is it Practical, and is it Worth it?” DH 2013. Lincoln, NB. 2013-07-19.

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Encoding Historical Dates Correctly: Is it Practical, and is it Worth it?

  1. 1. DH 2013, Lincoln, Nebraska Encoding historical dates correctly: Is it practical, and is it worth it? Janelle Jenstad, Martin Holmes, Nathan Phillips, Sarah Milligan, and Cameron Butt University of Victoria mapoflondon.uvic.ca @janellejenstad @MoEMLondon
  2. 2. The Glorious Revolution
  3. 3. The Glorious Revolution
  4. 4. The Glorious Revolution
  5. 5. The Glorious Revolution
  6. 6. A Journey through Italy and France (R.A. Poole)
  7. 7. A Journey through Italy and France (R.A. Poole)
  8. 8. A Journey through Italy and France (R.A. Poole)
  9. 9. A Journey through Italy and France (R.A. Poole)
  10. 10. A Journey through Italy and France (R.A. Poole)
  11. 11. Calendrical chaos between countries 1. Julian versus Gregorian calendar ● 1582: Pope Gregory's new calendar ● 1752: English adoption of Gregorian calendar 2. Start of New Year ● March 25, from 1155 to 1752 in England
  12. 12. Problem? What problem? We asked a number of colleagues on cognate projects for advice: ● It's only a few days. How important could it be? ● Proper historians know perfectly well what a particular date means. ● It's definitely a mess, but there's no workable solution. ● I don't want to think about it.
  13. 13. This problem: Interoperability ● You: a historian of 17thc Holland. ● Me: a researcher on 17thc English literary texts. ● Your eventography and my eventography get all interoperable with each other. ● Result: a very silly timeline.
  14. 14. Our project The Map of Early Modern London (mapoflondon.uvic.ca) ● Covers 1550-1650 ● 4105 dates or date ranges encoded so far ● Principal challenge: Stow's Survey of London ● For any date before 1752, we have to STOP before we tag; W3C standard is meaningless <date when="1603-03-24">
  15. 15. Our goals in encoding dates 1. We want to know WHEN an event occurred relative to other events (astronomical years). 2. We want dates to be computable and translatable to other calendars. 3. We want to interleave our dated events with events in other projects without appearing to "time travel" like William of Orange.
  16. 16. Solutions? Fact: TEI uses ISO and W3C standards, which presuppose Gregorian dates. A solution: convert all dates to Gregorian before encoding ● Elizabeth died on April 3, 1603 (proleptic Gregorian). Fact: TEI uses ISO and W3C standards, which presuppose Gregorian dates. A solution: convert all dates to Gregorian before encoding ● Elizabeth died on April 3, 1603 (proleptic Gregorian).
  17. 17. Problems with that solution Produces historical disorientation, because we "know" that Queen Elizabeth died on March 24, 1602/3 … … and it's laborious.
  18. 18. Our solution ● Use full capability of TEI ● Class of attributes: att.datable.custom ● "provides attributes for normalization of elements that contain datable events to a custom dating system"
  19. 19. Attributes we need 1.@when-custom fixed date→ • @notBefore-custom • @notAfter-custom ... 2.@datingMethod indicates the calendar→ assumed by the value of the attribute(s) above 3.@calendar indicates the calendar used in the→ text being marked up
  20. 20. Various reckoning systems Primary texts reckon time by: regnal years ("the third of King John") papal years mayoral years Anno Mundi (years since Creation) legal terms Saint's days Custom MoEML @calendar values include: calendar="mol:anno_mundi"
  21. 21. What the encoder sees
  22. 22. What the site will give you
  23. 23. What the reader sees
  24. 24. So ... … is it practical, and worthwhile to encode historical dates correctly? YES! It is practical, and it is worth it!
  25. 25. Credits and thanks Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Humanities Computing and Media Centre, UVic MoEML Team, especially Nathan Phillips, Sarah Milligan, and Cameron Butt Correspondence: jenstad@uvic.ca

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