Biographical Data in a Digital World 2022 (BD 2022) Workshop

workshop / tutorial
  1. 1. Angel Daza

    Vrije Universiteit (VU) Amsterdam (Free University)

  2. 2. Antske Fokkens

    Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Nethelands; Eindhoven University of Technology, The Nethelands

  3. 3. Richard Hadden

    OEAW Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften / Austrian Academy of Sciences

  4. 4. Eero Hyvönen

    Aalto University, Finland; Helsinki Centre for Digital Humanities (HELDIG), University of Helsinki, Finland

  5. 5. Mikko Koho

    Aalto University

  6. 6. Eveline Wandl-Vogt

    Ars Electronica Research Institute, Austria; Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria

Work text
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Biographical and prosopographical (Verboven et al., 2007) data are invaluable sources for historical research as they provide us with essential information on thousands of historical figures: from the cultural heroes of a nation to the many thousands of other significant, yet lesser-known figures who were influential in domains such as the arts, politics, humanities, or natural sciences. Their historical life paths can provide crucial context for tangible heritage objects, which have been created, owned, or influenced by historical actors, or which depict or refer to them. The events of individual biographies can further be aggregated into (histories of) larger contextual composites: groups (e.g., guilds, family histories), institutions (e.g., art schools, universities, religious orders, political movements, companies) and regional entities (from cities to whole countries).
Computational analysis of biographies has opened up new and interesting research directions (Warren, 2018; Fokkens et al., 2017; Tamper et al., 2022). Individuals share common characteristics that can be relatively easily identified and used for information retrieval and data analysis, such as date of birth, occupation, social networks, and locations. Tools and approaches from the digital humanities can be used for both quantitative analyses of such data and for providing leads for more qualitative research questions. New methods of spatial analysis may result in new research questions.

Workshop Goals
This workshop has two main goals. First, previous events on biographical data and digital humanities have revealed that groups working in this domain have different strengths. Though many groups bring researchers from different domains together, some groups mainly consist of domain experts with a lot of knowledge of history, library studies or literature. Other teams are primarily made up of researchers specialized in automatic analysis, formal modeling or visualization. Bringing these groups together increases insights for both types of groups. Technical experts contribute insights on best practices to deal with typical challenges of the domain. Domain experts on what analyses they need, which potential technological challenges are problematic for their research questions and which are not. Second, there is keen interest in cross-national research on biographical information. Most resources are national resources and though many are open, sharing information also means understanding each other’s data representation, linking related information, etc.
Biographical Data Workshop: modeling, sharing and analyzing people’s lives held at Digital Humanities 2016 in Krakow led to valuable steps on both these points. Among others, the first steps were made that ultimately led to active international collaboration (e.g., the InTaVia project: Our motivation for organizing this follow-up is two-fold. First, the advances of methods and availability of new resources in the last six years leads us to expect that new interactive sessions of knowledge exchange will have the same beneficiary effect as previous events. Second, the workshop and
Biographical Data in a Digital World conference series were, in terms of participants, rather European centric with some participants from America. It is our hope that a workshop at the current location will strengthen connections with researchers from Asia. In addition to the general increase of the network of expertise in this domain, steps towards connecting resources for Asia would open new horizons for new comparative research.

Workshop Organization
The workshop will be divided into three sessions. 

Preliminary schedule

(morning) The participating researchers get the chance to present their work. Depending on the number of submissions, this will be done through (short) presentations or in two poster sessions (where we aim to schedule posters of researchers of existing networks in the same session, to increase options for new connections).
(afternoon) The session consists of two interactive themed sessions. In the first round, we have technically oriented themes (data linking and sharing, data analysis and data visualization), where technical experts meet with various domain experts. In the second round, sessions are organized around use cases from the humanities, where humanity scholars meet with a team with different technical expertise.
(afternoon) Work groups will share their insights from the interactive sessions with the rest of the participants.

Submissions, proceedings, and workshop participation
We solicit abstract submissions for the poster session through its own call for participation. Possibilities of peer-reviewed proceedings based on the workshop will be discussed with participants during the workshop.
The contributions will be submitted through the main conference ConfTool system:
At least one author of each paper needs to register to the DH 2022 conference in order to participate in the workshop. The workshop is open for all conference participants. We reach out for close collaboration with the ADHO Geohumanities SIG (


Important dates

March 4: Call for abstracts and requests for participation
April 14: Deadline for abstracts
April 29: Notification of acceptance (peer-review results)
July 25/26: The workshop takes place

Intended audience
The target audience of the workshop are researchers working with biographical or prosopographical data. The audience is expected to consist of DH-focused researchers and computer scientists, as well as social science and humanities researchers.

Expected number of participants
Estimating the number of participants physically present is difficult due to COVID, but the previous BD workshops have had dozens of attending participants; there will be more with the planned possibility for online access.

Intended length
One day.

The workshop is self-financing.

Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

Digitizing and structuring biographical data
Standards, vocabularies and best practices for processing biographical data
Biographies and Linked Data
Crowdsourcing biographical data
Automatic biography generation
Using biographical and prosopographical data for quantitative analyses
Canonization of people and events in history
Use of big data for biographical research
Dealing with biographical data in heterogeneous datasets
Creating and maintaining biographical dictionaries
Enriching biographies from external sources
Reconciling persons between biographical dictionaries
Reconciling names against a biographical dictionary
Visualizing biographical and prosopographical data
Network analysis of biographical data
Biographies and spatial analysis
Biographies across countries and cultures


Angel Daza, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam ( Angel Daza is a computer scientist with expertise in Natural Language Processing. He completed his Ph.D. research at Universität Heidelberg where he worked on multilingual models for Semantic Role Labeling. He recently joined as a postdoc for the Computational Linguistics & Text Mining Lab at VU and is part of the In/Tangible European Heritage Visual Analysis, Curation & Communication project (InTaVia).

Antske Fokkens, VU University Amsterdam and Eindhoven University of Technology ( holds a University Research Chair on Computational Linguistic Methods. The chair specifically focuses on methodological aspects of language technologies when they are used in other disciplines (such as history, literature and library studies). She was one of the main researchers in the BiographyNet project and currently leads the Text Mining package of the InTavia project. Together with Historian Serge ter Braake she initiated the Biographical Data in a Digital World conference series and is co-chair of the DARIAH EU working group analyzing and linking biographical data.

Richard Hadden, Austrian Academy of Sciences ( Richard Hadden is a Digital Humanities researcher. He completed a PhD in textual scholarship and large-scale digitisation and knowledge representation at Maynooth University, Ireland. He joined the Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities and Cultural Heritage in 2020, as a postdoctoral researcher in digital prosopography. He currently works on several prosopographical and biographical projects as the ACDH-CH, including development of the IPIF prosopographical data format.

Eero Hyvönen, Helsinki Centre for Digital Humanities (HELDIG) and Aalto University ( Eero Hyvönen is professor of semantic media technology in Aalto University and director of the Helsinki Centre for Digital Humanities (HELDIG); he has been involved in developing several biographical and prosopographical systems for DH research, based on Semantic Web technologies, Linked Data, and Artificial Intelligence.

Mikko Koho, Aalto University ( Mikko Koho is a Staff Scientist at Aalto University, Department of Computer Science. Research focuses on Linked Data, ontologies, and data modelling, as well as data analysis in multidisciplinary Digital Humanities research.

Eveline Wandl-Vogt, ( foundress and director of Ars Electronica Research Institute knowledge for humanity, research manager and experimental researcher at Austrian Academy of Sciences, affiliate at metalab at Harvard, foundress and co-chair of DARIAH EU working group analyzing and linking biographical data, network and open innovation facilitator eg for biographical and prosopographical data, is challenging the genre against an art driven and open innovation background.

Confirmed Program Committee members

Paul Arthur, Edith Cowan University, Australia
Angel Daza, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Thierry Declerck, German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), Germany
Antske Fokkens, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Richard Hadden, Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria
Eero Hyvönen, University of Helsinki and Aalto University, Finland
Mikko Koho, Aalto University, Finland
Lik Hang Tsui, City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Eveline Wandl-Vogt, Ars Electronica Research Institute and Austrian Academy of Sciences, Austria
Hongsu Wang, Harvard University, USA

Fokkens, A. S., ter Braake, S., Ockeloen, C. J., Vossen, P. T. J. M., Legêne, S., Schreiber, G. and de Boer, V. (2017). BiographyNet: Extracting Relations between People and Events. In Bernád, Á. Z., Gruber, C. and Kaiser, M. (eds), Europa baut auf Biographien: Aspekte, Bausteine, Normen und Standards für eine europäische Biographik. Wien: New Academic Press, pp. 193-224.
Tamper, M., Leskinen, P., Hyvönen, E., Valjus, R. and Keravuori, K. (2022): Analyzing Biography Collection Historiographically as Linked Data: Case National Biography of Finland. Semantic Web. Accepted for publication.
Verboven, K., Carlier, M. and Dumolyn, J. (2007). A Short Manual to the Art of Prosopography. In Keats-Rohan, K.S.B. (ed), Prosopography Approaches and Applications. A Handbook. Oxford: Occasional Publications of the Unit for Prosopographical Research, pp. 35-70.
Warren, C. N. (2018). Historiography’s Two Voices: Data Infrastructure and History at Scale in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB). Journal of Cultural Analytics, 3(1). (accessed 28 April 2022).

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Conference Info

In review

ADHO - 2022
"Responding to Asian Diversity"

Tokyo, Japan

July 25, 2022 - July 29, 2022

361 works by 945 authors indexed

Held in Tokyo and remote (hybrid) on account of COVID-19

Conference website:

Contributors: Scott B. Weingart, James Cummings

Series: ADHO (16)

Organizers: ADHO