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Digital Heritage Seminar: Assessing Biases in Digitised Newspaper Collections

Online event

25 May 2023
14:00 - 15:30

This event has passed.

Digital Heritage Seminar: Historical Newspapers in the Digital Age

Newspapers constitute a vast reservoir of knowledge about the past. Given the rich textual and visual documentation of events, people, places, organizations, etc. that they contain, they have long been a favourite source for humanities scholars. The massive digitisation of historical newspapers in the past two decades has dramatically changed the ways in which researchers can make use of these sources. Traditionally, they were faced with the challenge of manually perusing physical or microfilmed newspaper copies, a time and labour intensive affair.

Today, the challenge is rather excess of data. The increasing digitisation and provision of example OCRed full text and segmented images of historical newspapers provides researchers with new tools and opportunities for studying the past.

In this series we showcase three research projects that have implemented digital tools in investigating different phenomena in corpora of digitised historical newspapers.



25 May 2023 at 2pm CEST (GMT +2)

Kaspar Beelen – Assessing Biases in Digitised Newspaper Collections



In this presentation, we introduce the ‘Environmental Scan’ as a method for investigating hidden biases in digitised newspaper collections. Our aim is to explore questions of representativeness and bias in new ways by enriching the computational analysis of the press with historical insights derived from contemporaneous reference sources, such as Victorian newspaper press directories. The presentation provides a critical investigation of the (nineteenth-century) British Newspaper Archive. We question whether the digitised press is representative of the newspaper landscape and analyse which voices are missing or under-represented in this corpus. 


Practical information

Registration is free but mandatory. The morning of the event you will be sent the link to the meeting and the etiquette to follow.

Duration: 1,5 hours

Should you have any further questions please email oerpug.qrfrher@xoe.or.

Register now



About the speaker

Kaspar Beelen is a digital historian, who explores the application of machine learning to humanities research. After obtaining his PhD in History (2014) at the University of Antwerp he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Toronto. In 2016, Kaspar moved to the University of Amsterdam where he later became an assistant professor in Digital Humanities (Media Studies). Since 2019, Kaspar works at the Turing Institute as a research associate for the Living with Machines project, where he investigates biases in large heritage collections.



This series is co-organised by KBR’s Digital Heritage Working Group which includes the involvement of the following BELSPO funded projects:

In cooperation with the ULB Information and Communication Science Department.