On a Linked Data Platform for Irish Historical Vital Records
The Irish Record Linkage 1864–1913 is a multi-disciplinary project aiming to create a platform for analyzing events captured in historical birth, marriage and death records by applying semantic technologies for annotating, storing and inferring information from the data contained in those records. This enables researchers to, for instance, investigate to what extent maternal and infant mortality rates were underreported. We report on the semantic architecture, provide motivation for the adoption of RDF and Linked Data principles, and elaborate on the ontology construction process that was influenced by both the requirements of the digital archivists and historians. Concerns of digital archivists include the preservation of the archival record and following best practices in preservation, cataloguing and data protection. The historians in this project wish to discover certain patterns in those vital records. An important aspect of the semantic architecture is the clear separation of concerns that reflects those requirements – the transcription and archival authenticity of the register pages and the interpretation of the transcribed data – that led to the creation of two distinct ontologies and knowledge bases.
KeywordsHistorical vital records Cultural heritage Linked data Ontology engineering RDF graph transformation
We thank the Registrar General of Ireland for permitting us to use this rich digital content contained in the vital records for the purposes of this research project. This publication has emanated from research conducted within the Irish Record Linkage, 1864-1913 project supported by the RPG2013-3; Irish Research Council Interdisciplinary Research Project Grant, and within the Science Foundation Ireland Funded Insight Research Centre (SFI/12/RC/2289). The Digital Repository of Ireland (formerly NAVR) gratefully acknowledges funding from the Irish HEA PRTLI programme.
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