While more and more digital data have become available over the past decades, sophisticated language resources of historical travel guides are not yet well established. Therefore, textual research in this field is lagging behind otherwise widespread text technological developments. This situation was the starting point for the project which introduced the travel!digital Corpus, a digital collection of German Baedeker-guidebooks on non-European countries dating from the period between 1875 and 1914. Corpus building and design principles aim at reducing the shortage of appropriate digital data which allow for historical analyses, and at providing an incentive for further investigations in this field. The project unlocks significant and unique cultural heritage objects and makes this valuable part of tourist literature publicly available.
Among the key areas addressed in the project were linguistic and in particular semantic markup, taxonomy building in SKOS, corpus enrichment by means of LOD and some good reasons why advanced textual studies on this genre are of interest. Corpus usability strongly benefits from the implementation of these components, in particular, successful corpus dissemination depends on high quality data that allow for complex analyses.
Early Baedeker-handbooks are rare today because only a small number of copies escaped the frequent maltreatment of being cut up to reduce luggage weight on local trips. Those that have endured give us a vivid impression of cultural narratives at the turn of the 19th century, and they tell more than one story. The project approached this complex issue by focusing on data development in general and the leading actors in the travel guides, people and monuments in particular. Considering well-established standards (TEI, RDF, SKOS, CMDI) and relying on pan-European infrastructures (CLARIN, DARIAH) the aim was to make available a well-equipped and freely accessible language resource which is meant to foster cross-disciplinary research in cultural representation and identity constructing discourses.
01 December 2014 – 30 November 2017