The National Endowment for the Humanities Office of Digital Humanities announced seven recipients of Digital Implementation Grants yesterday, including Berkeley Prosopography Services (BPS).
Berkeley Prosopography Services, led by Laurie Pearce and Niek Veldhuis, was originally developed as part of a 2009 NEH Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant. Patrick Schmitz, from Research IT, was responsible for the architecture and early development work. Berkeley Prosopography Services is notable for its corpus-agnostic architecture that ensures reusability of technical components to solve comparable problems across corpora, its modeling of probabilistic assertions for disambiguation, and its workspace environments that support and encourage individual and collaborative exploration, and authority tracking.
The new Digital Implementation Grant will allow BPS to evolve from a prototype to a functional out-of-the-box toolkit for prosopographical research and social network analysis (SNA) by 2017. To achieve this goal, the BPS team will introduce new features including:

  • The ability to import corpora from existing databases, converting the data into the TEI format used by BPS
  • Natural language processing tools to pre-process TEI corpora and automatically mark up activities and roles
  • Extended visualization tools to support interactive viewing, and filtering the results of disambiguation and SNA
  • Generalized feature model that can capture more traits about individuals (e.g. life roles, birthplace, office/title, etc.)
  • Workspace access control to support collaboration.

The BPS team will also be offering a prosopography seminar through the Social Science Matrix during fall 2014.
This is the second Digital Humanities Implementation Grant that UC Berkeley has received; the first was in 2012, for the WordSeer platform, which provides computational analysis and visualization tools for literary researchers.