TEI 2017 Victoria, British Columbia, Canada November 11 - 15

XML Tues Nov 14, 11:00–12:30

Historical Accounts in TEI: Digital editions and ontologies (paper)

Kathryn Tomasek* Kathryn Tomasek is Professor of History at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts. She is a member of the TEI Board of Directors, and her work on representations of historical account books in TEI has twice been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities.

1Semantically enriched digital editions of historical accounting records are a space in which TEI can play a role in opening new research questions in areas beyond textual studies. Ontologies developed out of discipline-specific expertise and harmonized with such established ontologies as CIDOC-CRM (Crofts 2011) present one avenue for creating interoperable data that extends beyond asserting relationships among people and places on the semantic web. Publication of digital editions that provide multiple outputs increases reusability and interoperability of the sources.
2Research completed under MEDEA (Modeling semantically Enhanced Digital Edition of Accounts) brings together the work of Kathryn Tomasek and Syd Bauman in United States with that of George Vogeler in Europe. The former used TEI-P5 to propose a basic ontology for XML-serialization of transactions—the central events recorded in account books (Tomasek and Bauman 2013). In parallel work, Vogeler created a bookkeeping ontology based on the main actors and events documented in such records (http://github.com/GVogeler/bookkeeping). He suggests adding references to this ontology with interpretive markup in digital editions using the @ana attribute. And in a test using data from multiple European projects, Vogeler has demonstrated use of this method to harmonize data for comparison across projects (Vogeler 2016). Further, Vogeler has worked with Øyvind Eide to demonstrate compatibility of both Tomasek and Bauman’s basic ontology and Vogeler’s bookkeeping ontology with CIDOC-CRM, following a process suggested by Eide (Eide2014) .
3A pre-alpha version of the MEDEA website offers multiple versions of the editions in a manner somewhat similar to the strategy that Holmes has described in the case of the Map of Early Modern London (Holmes 2017). The MEDEA website presents a set of European editions alongside an edition from the nineteenth-century United States. Outputs include TEI-P5 as well as Microsoft Excel and RDF. MEDEA demonstrates that parallel representation of editions in RDF derived from TEI files can move beyond the kind of first steps in representing persons and places that was achieved with the Henry III Fine Rolls (Ciula et al 2008).
4The question now becomes what kinds of ontologies scholars can derive from their discipline-specific knowledge and what are best practices for such derivation for production of accurate Linked Open Data. Future work in the case of accounts includes continued expansion of the collection of accounts in the Geisteswissenschaftliches Asset Management System (GAMS) at the Center for Information Modeling at the University of Graz. We are also seeking funding to replicate a version of the GAMS repository for accounts in North America and to increase the number of digital editions of North American accounts.


  • Ciula, Arianna, Paul Spence, José Miguel Vieira. Expressing Complex Associations in Medieval Historical Documents: The Henry III Fine Rolls Project. 2008 LLC 23, 3: 311 25.
  • Crofts, N., Doerr, M., Gill, T., Stead, S., and Stiff, M. (eds.). Definition of the CIDOC Conceptual Reference Model. 2011ISO 21127:2014.
  • Eide, Øyvind. Ontologies, Data Modeling, and TEI. 2014 Journal of the Text Encoding Initiative [Online], Issue 8 December 2014 December 2015, Online since 09 April 2015, connection on 23 May 2017. URL : http://jtei.revues.org/1191 ; DOI : 10.4000/jtei.1191
  • Holmes, Martin. Whatever Happened to Interchange? April 2017. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities 32, Supplement 1, i63 i68.
  • Tomasek, K. and Bauman, S. Encoding Financial Records for Historical Research. 2013. Journal of the Text Encoding Initiative, 6. 10.4000/jtei.895.
  • Vogeler, Georg. The Content of Accounts and Registers in their Digital Edition: XML/TEI, Spreadsheets, and Semantic Web Technologies. 2016. In: Edition von Rechnungen und Amtsbüchern, ed. by Jürgen Sarnowksy, V&R Unipress 2016.