The Catalogus Professorum Lipsiensis - Semantics-based Collaboration and Exploration for Historians

The World Wide Web (WWW), as an ubiquitous medium for publication and exchange, already significantly influenced the way how historians work: the availability of public catalogs and bibliographies enable efficient research of relevant content for a certain investigation; the increasing digitization of works from historical archives and libraries, in addition, enables historians to directly access historical sources remotely. The capabilities of the WWW as a medium for collaboration, however, are only starting to be explored. Many historical questions are only answerable by combining information from different sources, from different researchers and organizations. Furthermore, after analyzing original sources, the derived information is often more comprehensive than can be captured by simple keyword indexing. In [3] we report about the application of an adaptive, semantics-based knowledge engineering approach for the development of a prosopographical knowledge base. In this demonstration we will showcase the comprehensive prosopographical knowledge base and its potential for applications. In prosopographical research, historians analyze common characteristics of historical groups by studying statistically relevant quantities of individual biographies. Untraceable periods of biographies can be determined on the basis of such accomplished analyses in combination with statistically examinations as well as patterns of relationships between individuals and their activities. In our case, researchers from the Historical Seminar at the University of Leipzig aimed at creating a prosopographical knowledge base about the life and work of professors in the 600 years history of University of Leipzig ranging from the year 1409 till 2009 - the Catalogus Professorum Lipsiensis (CPL).