An Approach for Curating Collections of Historical Documents with the Use of Topic Detection Technologies

  • Medina Andresel Austrian Institute of Technology
  • Sergiu Gordea AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH
  • Srdjan Stevanetic AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH
  • Mina Schütz AIT Austrian Institute of Technology GmbH


Digital curation of materials available in large online repositories is required to enable the reuse of Cultural Heritage resources in specific activities like education or scientific research. The digitization of such valuable objects is an important task for making them accessible through digital platforms such as Europeana, therefore ensuring the success of transcription campaigns via the Transcribathon platform is highly important for this goal. Based on impact assessment results, people are more engaged in the transcription process if the content is more oriented to specific themes, such as First World War. Currently, efforts to group related documents into thematic collections are in general hand-crafted and due to the large ingestion of new material they are difficult to maintain and update. The current solutions based on text retrieval are not able to support the discovery of related content since the existing collections are multi-lingual and contain heterogeneous items like postcards, letters, journals, photographs etc. Technological advances in natural language understanding and in data management have led to the automation of document categorization and via automatic topic detection. To use existing topic detection technologies on Europeana collections there are several challenges to be addressed: (1) ensure representative and qualitative training data, (2) ensure the quality of the learned topics, and (3) efficient and scalable solutions for searching related content based on the automatically detected topics, and for suggesting the most relevant topics on new items. This paper describes in more details each such challenge and the proposed solutions thus offering a novel perspective on how digital curation practices can be enhanced with the help of machine learning technologies.

Conference Papers