Mapping historical networks: Building the new Austrian Prosopographical | Biographical Information System (APIS)

The Austrian Biographical Encyclopaedia (ÖBL) is the only such work in Central Europe to collect the life courses and career paths of distinguished personalities in the entire area of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy as well as of the First and Second Republics. Based on the approximately 18,000 published and already digitally accessible biographies and by applying various methods of computer linguistics (differentiated, text-linguistic indexing), modern IT structures and the Semantic Web, options are being created to support solutions to research questions in the context of the humanities and social and cultural sciences and to enable specific evaluation processes. APIS is being built in cooperation with the Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities (ACDH) and the Institute for Urban and Regional Research (ISR). Through transformation into a suitable research infrastructure, the Austrian Biographical Encyclopaedia is made machine-readable (RDF, SKOS), semantically enriched and published in the Linked Open Data Cloud (open access provision of data under a CC-BY-NC licence), as well as fully connected to international standards (GND, VIAF). Integration into already existing European initiatives (DARIAH, CLARIN, EUROPEANA) is planned. Thus, maximum accessibility of the research data will be achieved.

In the spirit of transdisciplinary cooperation, the expertise of the Austrian Biographical Encyclopaedia (historical biographical research) merges with that of the ACDH in the area of corpus linguistics and text technology in order to develop innovative methods that will exemplarily offer a new platform for concrete research in the social sciences conducted at the ISR. At the same time, a comprehensive social and demographic analysis of forms of migration and the migration patterns of social elites in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries with a special focus on the political ruptures during this period is being undertaken and published.

Thus, the project spans a bridge from the humanities via text technology and Semantic Web approaches to the social sciences; it is exemplary, future-oriented and embodies interdisciplinarity.

This project is supported by the National Foundation for Research, Technology and Development.

Project leader:

Professor Dr Michael Gehler


Dr Christine Gruber (deputy project leader)
Ágoston Zénó Bernád, MA
Dr Maximilian Kaiser