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Automatically analysing large texts in a GIS environment: the Registrar General’s reports and cholera in the nineteenth century

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Forthcoming

Journal publication date2014
JournalTransactions in GIS
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

The aim of this article is to present new research showcasing how
Geographic Information Systems in combination with Natural Language
Processing and Corpus Linguistics methods can offer innovative venues of
research to analyse large textual collections in the Humanities, and
particularly, in historical research. Using as example the collection of the
Registrar General’s Reports containing more than 200,000 pages of
descriptions, census data and vital statistics for the UK, we introduce newly
developed automated textual tools and spatial analyses used to investigate
a case study about the references made to cholera and other diseases in
these historical sources, and their relationship to place-names during
Victorian times. The integration of such techniques has allowed us to
explore in an automatic way this historical source containing millions of
words, to examine the geographies depicted in it, and to identify textual
and geographic patterns in the corpus.